Instrumental music is not the focus of most musicians these days; it’s an art form both overlooked and underused. Hailing from Mayo, Conor Walsh is a lifelong piano player with a passion for creating minimalist and emotive instrumental ensembles that evoke more meaning than most lyrical pieces out there. Influenced by a wide range of musicians, Walsh composes tracks that are menacing and peaceful, sinister and awe-inspiring, all at the same time. Debut E.P, The Front, consists of four pieces, released on October 30th this year, to a welcoming audience.
Title track, The Front, opens the E.P with an intense piece that calms you down only to create unease and tension with stark piano playing and heaving background synth, to relax you once more by returning to gentle key tones. The song has more emotion than you would think possible from just one man and his piano, but the music he creates is astounding. He tells a story with the keys transporting listeners to another dimension. Conor has a really interesting way of playing – very percussive, with the kind of syncopation you would find in electronic music or post rock. The second track, Quadrivium is recited in a minor key with more sinister tones and creepy background noises. This one is a little darker, but with the same intense emotion that tells a story. The choice of chords and the sound’s resemblance to the human voice create an all-round ominous feel. It reminds me of new era Linkin Park, with the juxtaposition of the delicate piano playing and the heavy synth. The water sounds halfway through add mystery and layers to the instrumentation. Regarding the interesting title choice, the quadrivium are the four subjects taught after teaching the trivium (a method of critical thinking). The quadrivium consisted of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. The track becomes more gentle and expressive towards the end with undertones of light rather than dark. With an allusion to Beethoven on the piano and the disquieting background sounds, this song is like nothing I’ve ever heard.
K Theory, again, has a darker opening, with dirgey synth and hazy noise setting the tone before the detached, stacato piano playing comes in. The atmosphere is almost other wordly, and the track would not be out of place in a sci-fi movie (like the matrix, get it?). There is what resembles human voices in the background once more, followed by siren type calls. The song moves towards lighter tones in the closing few seconds, symbolising a ‘to be continued’ ending. The title is again an interesting one; K Theory basically refers to the mathematical study of transformation of matrices. This is less of a relaxing piece and more of a trippy one, but the atmosphere created by just one man is astounding.
One Swallow is the closing track, and the longest one at almost seven minutes. Opening with isolated major piano keys, joined by synth sounds echoing that of a violin. The piano flows with joined notes, still with subtle but present background synth, continuing on to a gently intense piece. This song is one with a more hopeful feeling, a ‘through the storm’ atmosphere, if you will, and rounds off the four tracks on the E.P well. The listener feels like they’ve been taken through the beginning, middle and end of a story. Keep an eye on Conor’s Facebook page for upcoming gigs to promote the new release!