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Dirk Maassen “Viva / Project Ascolta!”

In my first review I would love to introduce you to Dirk Maassen, a composer from Germany, whom I met on SoundCloud more than a year ago and had a pleasure of playing one of his compositions. His album “Viva / Project Ascolta!” was among the first CDs I purchased when I started collecting albums released by fellow soundclouders.

Dirk’s music has a distinct and profound sound, a harmonious and intriguing blend of neoclassical and trance genres, with the piano creating both the beat and the melody. Rhythmic echoing of the pure piano takes the listener to a meditative, spiritual journey. It’s modern, yet so very classical. It’s intense, yet fragile, even playful at times, like the life itself, following the quote found on “Viva“‘s cover: “…to the beauty of the very basic things in life”…

The album begins with the title track called “Viva“, a spacious piece with a stunning melody and a haunting rhythm. Variations bring to mind Bach’s meditative polyphony.

Addio“, the 2nd track, is a very atmospheric piece with a pure naive start, interesting tempo changes, followed by speeding syncopated echoing in the melody. Next comes “First Light“, which starts intensely and has an explosive build up, an overwhelming piano that sounds like a full orchestra with bass contrasting the fragile high register melodies. Lovely effects add resonance to the title, and I heard some reminiscence of Celtic harmonies in this piece.

On a Winter’s Night“, the 4th track, was a surprise: eastern motifs and beats, ethnic folk meeting the trance. Dirk’s melodies are rarely using chords as the lead, yet his harmony is very distinct and structured. This, along with the rhythmic echoing piano, is definitely the signature sound of the album. The 5th track, “Up!“, has a contemplative yet sensual start, surprisingly romantic after the rhythmic and structured previous tracks. And then it speeds up and takes off to another celebration of haunting rhythms. With minor mood changes during the track, this one will control and change your heartbeat, thanks to tempo changes. So very intense, but fragile and from time to time even playful.

Solitude” comes next, a piece complicated with rhythmic phrasing changes. Strong rocking chords followed by another spacious phrasing. “Eagle“, the 7th track, has a very cinematic intro, feeling like soaring above the deserted spaces. Great use of blocked chords in the bass register – not typical to this album, therefore, so refreshing. Great dynamic changes from active to meditative. Another masterpiece, exposing how sensitivity to rests in music helps to achieve harmony with the chords and the lead melody, as they switch parts or have a dialogue.

The 8th track is another version of “Addio“, with dissonant and very cinematic intro. It sounds like a surreal dialogue of two forces. It’s followed by a version of “Eagle“, featuring a crystal piano, playing very strong chords, clear harmonies, over the waves of synth pad (reminiscence of Robert Miles “Children” from 90s). The minimalistic melody keeps the tension high and adds spiritual entranced vibe, as a proper finale to this magnificent album.

 

Album review by Milana Zilnik
Proof-reading by Arty Sandler