Bill Ryder-Jones If...

Bill Ryder-Jones If...
Bill Ryder-Jones used to play guitar for British band the Coral, but don't expect If... to remind you of his previous outfit. Primarily piano-based, the album exists somewhere between the worlds of Erik Satie and Michael Nyman, with some interesting original touches. It was conceived as a soundtrack of sorts to Italo Calvino's postmodernist novel, If On A Winter's Night A Traveler. Ryder-Jones's piano is augmented by grand, if at times histrionic, strings provided by the Liverpool Philharmonic and interwoven with various pop elements. "Enlace" has a surprisingly Beatles-esque guitar solo and several tracks on the album contain vocals. "Le Grand Desordre" stands out the most stylistically, with Ryder-Jones singing while playing a squeaky stringed acoustic, made all the more emotive for the sombre cello that enters midway through. If... is a bravely conceptual and enjoyable hybrid of pop structures and classical compositions, and, although unexceptional in the world of contemporary classical, in the realm of soundtracks, it holds up very well. (Domino)