Francesco Tristano: Body Language Vol. 16
Get Physical

If anyone's capable of breathing new life into the mix CD concept, it's Francesco Tristano, and Get Physical Music was smart to put the highly regarded pianist and composer in charge of its sixteenth Body Language mix. Anything but a run-of-the-mill electronic dance producer, Tristano brings special qualities to the project: classical training that enables him to be as comfortable on Deutsche Grammophon as Infiné Music, and advanced technical ability that allows him to comfortably perform Bach and Ravel in solo concert settings and collaborate onstage with Carl Craig.

The set-list alone indicates that the mix will take the road less traveled, given the presence of Joe Zawinul's “The Harvest” and the inclusion of seven of Tristano's own compositions (he also collaborates with Luciano on“Amnesie” and appears as part of KhalifeSchumacherTristano, a new project that sprang from Aufgang's ashes). For the record, not all of the seven cuts are brand new, as three of them appeared on his late-2014 EP for Get Physical, Piano, Hats & Stabs. In some respects, Tristano's mix hews to standard Get Physical form, with label mainstays M.A.N.D.Y. (“Obsessed”) included and swinging club workouts by Julio Victoria (“Impermanent”), Danton Eeprom (“Hungry For More”), and Faktorm (“Faith”) woven into the set; but offsetting them is material one wouldn't customarily find in a Get Physical mix, among them ones by Zawinul and Tristano's Barcelona neighbour Cardopusher (“1989 Warehouse”).

With its Weather Report-like ambiance and humid mix of wildlife and Japanese speaking voice, Tristano's “Ongaku” intro could be said to be channeling Zawinul himself, before his own “The Harvest” (taken from 1986's Dialects album) bursts the gates open with its roiling fusion-funk pulse and hypnotic vocal chants. Aside from Zawinul's stunner, it's the mixer's own tracks that are ultimately the release's strongest selling point. With Tristano joined on occasion by P41 (aka sound engineer Edoardo Pietrogrande), tracks such as “Gaza World Cup,” “Dminorloop,” and “Chester Copperpot” are pieces rich in personality that with their piano-centric emphasis have their creator's fingerprints all over them. As “Sarasani” and “Place On Lafayette” illustrate, the way Tristano melds techno and house grooves with acoustic piano and synthesizers is arresting, and one comes away from the recording impressed by his originals than anyone else's. That's something, incidentally, that's rendered even more conspicuous when four Tristano pieces appear in a row at the halfway mark.

June 2015