Justin Varis | Mountains

 Cat: AB046
 Time: April 2013
 Media: Digital Download

 Info: Drawing on the rich history of musique concrète 
 while most recently exploring minimal single instrument 
 composition, his music is one of contrast and 
 contradiction. Abstract tendencies conjoin with basic 
 intimate melodies. Disruptive sequencing is utilized 
 alongside loops and repeating patterns. Meticulous 
 audio editing creates calculated timing while improvised 
 passages lend expressive mistakes. Mountains is a 
 collection of piano compositions highlighting not only 
 evolving melody but the environment in which the 
 instrument was recorded.

 Artist site: 

 PDF Press Release: Download

 01. F
02. G
03. C
04. E (Edit)
05. L
REVIEWS | Mountains
 Justin Varis is an American musician and composer who currently resides in Los Angeles. Inspired by the rich 
 and varied history of musique concrete, Varis has recently been pursuing minimal, single instrument composition 
 – in this case, the piano. The artists offerings, both under his own name and as Claudia, have featured on 
 numerous compilations and on labels such as Frozen Elephants Music and Audiobulb Records. Varis is joined 
 here with Kevin Ponto, though little information is given as to how large his role is here.

 Mountains begins with ten long seconds of silence and this is apt, since at times, the music within this EP length
 release is as much about what is not played, as what is, and those opening moments of nothingness serve to 
 focus the mind for what is to come.

 A composition, simply titled F, introduces Mountains and Varis treats the listener to a melodic piano refrain which 
 could form the beginning of a very tuneful ballad. This straight path to song is soon left behind however and the 
 artist instead takes strong and confident strides into unexplored terrain. Varis chooses to manipulate the almost 
 careless-sounding notes into something else, something far more deliberate.

 Working with piano and with the ambience created by sound waves reflecting off surfaces and into the 
 microphone’s diaphragm, Varis edits and manipulates the audio until near destruction, encouraging the listener to 
 appraise each moment afresh. At first, the notes feel almost too jarring and the mind seeks to collate them into 
 pattern, but to do so would be missing the point, so it is far better to relax and enjoy the performance. Once one
 gives in to passive listening, complex patterns and organic randomness fit together much more fully. Musique 
 Concrete is a familiar and much respected influence cited by many musicians, but seldom does an artist properly 
 encapsulate the character of what one imagines those French pioneers of sound were striving for.

 Attempts at highly conceptual work such as this can all too easily fall flat on their face, but Justin Varis’s 
 measured approach pays off and the artist gives rise to a work which walks a line between melody and sound, 
 this is true abstract composing and it is compelling.

 Audiobulb Is an exploratory music label designed to support the work of innovative artists. 

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