Québecois composer, improvisor and pianist Jean-Michel Blais was a young prodigy who was already well-recognized enough at 17 to be invited to receive formal training at pianist Czeslaw Kacyznski’s Trois-Rivieres Music Conservatory. Upon starting his training, though, Blais quickly found himself chafing at its rigid boundaries. Blais has taken an unconventional path since then, but he’s about to release his debut album, Il and it is nothing short of stunning.
“Nostos”, the first single, marries minimalist structure with breathtaking fluidity. It’s easy for classical music to feel obtuse and removed from the kind of immediate emotional impact that we look to music for; Blais’ work is startlingly affecting without conceding to the kind of shallow manipulative tropes many film soundtracks swear by. The closest comparison is the music of the venerable Erik Satie, which is a comparison made too often for modern composers but is not made lightly here. This is music that makes your chest feel tight. It is music that feels like clusters of stars being born and dying. It is music that will persist.
Il will be available on April 8, 2016 from Arts and Crafts. Listen to “Nostos” below: