Song-by-Song: Fabrizio Rat – The Pianist

You could say that Turin-born artist Fabrizio Rat’s early musical developments were that of a “double life”. Throughout his apprentice years at a classical musical academy, Fabrizio worked as a producer in dance music studios at the same time, hiding each craft to the other party whilst quietly exploring the middle ground between the two opposing styles.

Mastering analogue instruments such as the 909 and 303, Fabrizio incorporates these devices with the melodics of his prepared piano, creating a completely unique style of hybrid, atmospheric techno that has seen the Paris-based producer release on respected labels Optimo Trax and Involve Records in little over a year.

Fabrizio’s latest effort and debut album The Pianist presents an 8-track sonic exploration through techno and piano music. Unforgiving kick-drums, erratic bass lines and an unsettling urgency from percussive piano cycles combine to create a beautifully haunted record, reminiscent of the controlled chaos of Jeff Mills whilst reimagining the acoustic instrument similarly to contemporary artists such as Francesco Tristano and Nils Frahm.

In celebration of the release we asked Fabrizio Rat to share with us the process behind the album, citing the pianists in which he dedicates his music to whilst detailing the mechanics behind each composition.


The pianist

1. Lupu

Every track of this techno album is named after a great classical music pianist. This first one is for Radu Lupu. I remember that the preparation (e.g. objects put on the strings to modify their sound) of the piano for the main patterns of the song were found completely by chance, by putting some patafix randomly on strings and then discovering the relation between the harmonics produced. The rest of the track is then gravitating around that pattern.

2. Michelangeli

Dedicated to Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, the greatest pianist of all time (in my opinion). He had an extreme control of piano sound nuances, thanks to an incredible technique and a really deep knowledge of the piano mechanism. My track is completely built on a harmonics pattern in the low section of the piano which slowly evolves in sound.

3. Horowitz

An hypnotic pattern superposed to noisy piano sounds (sticks rolling inside the piano and on the outer part of strings) with the 909 building up all the while. Dedicated to Vladimir Horowitz.

4. Gould

To Glenn Gould. This is one of two ambient tracks on the album. A dreamy pattern mixing harmonics and natural piano sounds (which creates a slight drift in tuning) superposed to a kick -like repeated and stopped note in the low register.

5. Aimard

This is my favourite track I guess. Like a tunnel with no way out, but two turning points. I think the piano was prepared in a similar way to Lupu but I found different relation between the notes. Dedicated to the French pianist Pierre Laurent Aimard, a great interpreter of contemporary music, especially with really complex polyrhythms.

6. Pollini

A 303 line, a filtered kick and a drifting piano pattern are the main elements of this track dedicated to the great Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini.

7. Argerich

I tried to recreate the cut-off filter of a synthesizer in a physical way on the piano, by sliding my left hand on two strings at the low end, while playing the repeated notes with the right one. After the break the song empties out to leave space to the 909 toms.

8. Rubinstein

A mysterious atmosphere, with a gliding 303 line, another piano pattern made up of harmonics, and some high pitched sounds recorded from a broken toy piano which my great friend and musician Alessandro Arianti gave to me. This toy piano sounds all out of tune in a very interesting way.

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The Pianist is out now on Blackstrobe Records. You can buy it here.

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