World-renowned composer-pianist John Kameel Farah is versed in classical, minimalist, jazz, electronic and Arabic music, and performs with piano, synthesizer, computer and, at times, harpsichord and organ. His latest album, Time Sketches, blends these elements with symphonic vision and fluidity.
Over his last few records, Farah has experimented with various combinations of his influences, but Time Sketches might be the best distillation of his talents to date, with an 'always on' blend of intensity and calm. He can create an expansive and floating feeling by repeating two notes back and forth while other flourishes or chords flow by. This technique is found in "Shiraz Sketch," "Quiet City A," "Quiet City B" and "Grasshopper Dance." Farah's taste for pattern repetition includes the ostinati tying together opener "Fantasia Prelude," "Behold!" and album closer "Fantasia." The latter seems to encompass several centuries of music history in its 12-minute piano-and-synth odyssey.
Another strength of this record is its unique blend of virtuosic playing and compositional simplicity. "Simple Rotation" is grounded by a repeated note with only its timbre changing between piano and synth sounds, while "Leaves (for Mom)" is wide open melodically, as if every note were an autumn leaf falling in real time.
Over previous releases Farah has developed his own language, seeking bridges between his various musical heritages. On Time Sketches, Farah now skilfully uses this built-up language to take us on an awe-inspiring journey through time and space. (Neue Meister)