Carles Viarnès

Schematismus

R54

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Recorded and produced with Oriol Solé and Toni Sistaré at Ca n'Estruc, Montserrat.

Mixed with Oriol Solé and Toni Sistaré at Lazy Studio, Igualada.

Masterized by Javier Ortiz at Brazil, Madrid.

Artwork: Oriol Solé and Toni Sistaré.

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Schematismus

Music is, first and foremost, the structuring of sounds, just as painting is a combination of shapes and colors. But to exist, music needs the existence of silence, like poetry (which is itself another form of music) needs a blank sheet of paper. Often when talking about music we often forget that silence should be there: that sacred vacuum in which nothing sounds but which must emanate sound unexpectedly, primitively, as if every musical note, which is a form of energy, will seem like a sort of Big Bang in a vacuum. There is music that attempts to fill silence; such forms of musical composition feel dense, complex, endless. But there is another kind of music that aspires to be silent, to return to the origin, to exist only for a short time, almost ashamed to heard with its resonance – no matter how impressionistic, no matter how much it attempts to be a glimpse of Debussy ̶ the purity of absolute stillness. ‘Schematismus’, the second album by Carles Viarnés, is this kind of music.

Now we say second, and not third album because ‘Schematismus’ evolves from where Viarnés’s previous effort left off. ‘Urban Tactus’ (2012) is a surprising debut LP of contemporary piano music underscored by breezy electronic sounds. ‘El Llibre Vermell de Montserrat’ (2013) bypasses polyphonic instrumentation altogether: Viarnés along with his cohort, Pep Massana, provide an audacious, yet respectful, reworking of a genuine treasure trove of the Catalan medieval music. ‘Schematismus’, as its title indicates, is an album of pop and pure forms that evolve just enough to come into being and which, immediately afterwards, disappear. It is not an abstract work but it is austere: only the sound of a piano breaks the silence. The fourteen tracks contained in this album are an attempt to find something pure and perfect, the search for even the slightest improvement of soundscape. In the end, sound contracts in its return to its original state. After a minute and a half, or three, but never more than that unit temporary measure, we sense a distant vibration of air, perfumed with minimalism, a certain lyricism and religiosity.

With ‘Urban Tactus’, Viarnés became linked with the contemporary European scene, pop and tonal piano music, led by the likes of composers such as Max Richter, Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm. But ‘Schematismus’ aspires to greater perfection, a sacrosanct poetry of sorts; where teachers want to be there as Arvo Pärt found unforgettable moments with ‘Für Alina’: the near absence of music, the maximum reduction of the notes in the most tenuous boundary between sound and silence.

Javier Blánquez, music journalist.