Otto A Totland – The Lost

The Lost continues on from 2014’s Pinô, Otto A Totland’s debut solo piano record. The sophomore shares some similarities with its cosy, warm and yet wintry piano.The Lost is the deep serenity of January snowfall and the total erasure of the self. Notes swirl in the air, and their relaxed, come-what-may vibes carry over from musician to listener. After several days spent recording in Nils Frahm’s Durton studio, the music has the air of peace, entrenched in a quiet, long-lasting stillness that can only be poured out from a period of isolation; worry-free music which is as beautiful as it is reflective. Paradoxically, The Lost feels far from lost, as it has the warm comfort of home. These notes nourish the heart.

Its beauty shouldn’t be underestimated or overlooked, but that frequently happens with music such as this, which usually plays second fiddle to in-your-face pop because of its introverted and slightly shy nature. But once you’ve seen her face, you can’t forget her beauty.

Its quiet side is an invitation to look deeper, revealing an inner beauty that’s apparent from the very first note. Inner beauty is more precious and far more attractive than outward appearances. Those outer layers wrinkle, wither and decay, but a warm heart keeps its insulation and it keeps on shining.

As Proverbs 27:19 says, “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart”.

 Music also reflects the heart, and The Lost has something to say: it only wants to live and breathe in a world scarred by violence and upheaval. The Lost’s music is wrapped up in a thick winter coat, gloves and all, music for long winter walks, the cold breath escaping in a white, cloudy vapour and the refreshing quiet of the season, where things aren’t so much dead as they are sleeping, waiting for Spring.

The initial cell is a walking melody: a pure sound trickling ever onwards. Just the two forces of silence and piano exist, silence being one of music’s often-overlooked elements, but without silence, all music ever played would still be playing. No electronic trickery or manipulation will be found here. As such, it is not a radical departure from his debut (nor does it need to be), but neither is it more of the same. Some tracks are quicker and some walk slowly, but they’re always composed.

To me, the piano is prettier when it is understated, when the space and the silence are treated as fair and equal elements of music, and its minimal usage of notes makes those notes even more powerful and distinct (although, saying that, another wonderful musical contradiction or anomaly comes to my mind – the music of Lubomyr Melnyk’s incredible ‘continuous piano music’, which is equally breathtaking, and that style of music plays on and on and on without a pause for breath). The effect is very different. Continuous piano, or even an increase in the volume of notes, usually gives the music a Lucozade-like kick of energy and forward momentum.  There is no such urgency here. The Lost will find you, hug you, hold your hand, keep you safe.

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