The Secret Of The Sea
If “La Casa Sulla Luna” was a quiet reflection on the pianist’s life and its peripheries, “The Secret Of The Sea” is a romantic tale on acoustic guitar and piano intermingling like two collared doves. This loving finality and complete lack of pretense paints a sunny, amorous instrumental backdrop to your everyday life, in Bavota’s most accomplished release to date.
While if “Me And You” is a very personally-minded title to begin with, it does carry the purpose of thousands with it. Bruno’s skills with piano: his effortless, liquid technique, his lack of overarching weight, his speeding up and slowing down but always sowing a seed of continuity – these qualities put him on the same level as Greg Haines and Nils Frahm in terms of emotional maturity. With “Les Nuits Blanches” and its acute arpeggiated phrasing and tip-toeing melody, the stage is set for a cinematic record that carries with it pithy resemblance to some of the most touching piano music you’ll ever hear.
But there’s more. As mentioned, acoustic guitar is a pivotal gesture and counterpoint in this album, best exemplified in “The Man Who Chased The Sea”. You can imagine someone like Nick Drake singing river songs over the undulating, rhythmic sveltness that makes up its tone and pulsing nature. Later on, a C Major played in low octave skitters about on its firm anchorage, and new lines jet out like a Peregrine falcon in capricious clusters. The mood is not one of searching for prey, or a meaning, but instead a cherishing what life has to offer in the smallest moments: love, leverage for excitation, and unburdened living.
There are some cameo appearances of music from “La Casa Sulla Luna” included further into the LP – “Plasson”, one of the best tracks from Bavota’s ouevre, sees to sit alongside more livid, new sounds, just like the unabashed playfulness of “Hidden Lights Through Smoky Clouds”. The chord changes and scaling up and scaling back create momentous occasions of beauty in the listener’s ear, as if you were born to hear the hard-won wisdom Bruno brings to the piano instrument. “If Only My Heart Were Wide Like The Sea” installs a lamenting fusion of word based synaesthesia.
To tell you more of the context of where the work is actually angling or successful: the first half up to “Plasson” marries the gentle guitar sway of Brian Eno collaborator Leo Abrahams with piano playing somewhat like Erik Satie. Although here, the sounds are much more fluid and less meandering, a “Gymnopedia With Stretched Muscles”, if you like. For me the standout’s are the intensely serious title track, “The Man Who Chased The Sea” and “The Boy And The Whale” for instilling ambient wryness to the whole. Bavota has a sense of humour, to be sure. But with “The Secret Of The Sea”, he puts it to much more than token satire. His music is cheerful, sincere, all-encompassing and as an album’s photograph on the memory, not easy to forget. That makes it a winner in my books.