Tanner Menard: Deepest Indigo
Full Spectrum Records

Tanner Menard recorded the piano instrumentals on Deepest Indigo on 2009, but they're only now seeing the light of day. The passing of seven years hasn't aged the material, though interestingly its release date comes at a time when Menard apparently has left musical pursuits behind in favour of others, spirituality among them.

Even a single listen confirms that Deepest Indigo is no standard collection of piano pieces, and the sound Menard presents on the fifty-minute album is particularly fascinating. He achieved its unusual sound by applying a custom tuning designed by Nicholas Gish to the instrument, as well as by using pianoteq, a software program that allows for real-time MIDI control of a digitally modeled piano. During the opening “Soft,” the piano's notes seem to melt into a blurry puddle, whereas in “Orchids,” “Subdued,” and “Glistening,” the custom tuning that rises from the hazy mass repeatedly tickles the ear with unusual sonorities.

He drew for inspiration from, among other things, the music of Joni Mitchell and soft glowing light, and the latter especially is suggested by the music's character. While there are obviously differences between the nine settings, a hazy glow seems to emanate off of these subdued meditations, and a mild sense of disorientation is experienced when the listener's exposed to the unconventional tonalities of Gish's tuning systems (such a presentation will sound less foreign to those familiar with works presented in just intonation, however).

Adding to the project's idiosyncratic character, Menard conceived it with the idea of random shuffle in mind, the result for the listener being a different experience every time Deepest Indigo is played. Such disruption brings with it an additional consequence: the track titles in their originating order form the poetic line “sort orchids, halted glistening subdued rainbows, deepest indigo fills the space,” but that of course changes when random playback is applied.

March 2016