NAZO ZAKKAK – A Pause By Any Other Name

Accretions

There is something of a contradiction in the printed material concomitant to this CD by Nazo Zakkak, a composer whose work was unknown to this reviewer to date. His former teacher Kei Akagi (I remember him playing with Allan Holdsworth, circa 1986) admonishes the “inattentive” listener that this is not ambient music by any means, while both the label’s website and Cecilia Sun’s analytic liners bring out the term, including several direct references to the very Brian Eno. Truth be told, we’re neither here not there. Essentially, these compositions for four pianos belong to that category of scores where the conceptual assumptions surpass – and not by a little – the actual worth of the resulting sonorities. It’s exactly via a careful examination, in fact, that an expert ear resists to the cuddling susurration of the reverberant aureoles generated by assimilable chordal sequences, realizing that the compositional kernel’s weight never exceeds that of dozens of comparable recordings heard in the past from other names (often unjustly touted). The concept of “space between the events” has already been exhaustively explored by the pioneers and, nowadays, is ingloriously exploited by latecomers lacking a proper education of the inner self. Really special statements are needed to add significant new chapters in that book and, unfortunately, in this album we couldn’t find anything – besides a dignified façade – that produced a genuine emotional response. Ultimately, Akagi is right: it’s not ambient, it’s more like “refined easy listening”, though I’m utterly convinced of Zakkak’s sincerity beyond everything else.

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