[6 March 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Michael Vincent Waller has been sharpening his compositional chops for many a commissioned artist before dropping this self-released EP Five Easy Pieces. These are five (relatively) brief solo piano works that tip-toe the line between 20th century cyclical forms and the Keith Jarrett approach of let’s-see-how-long-we-can-make-this-simmer school of thought. It is not minimalism per se since changes are occurring above the level of subtlety, but Waller holds everything on a tight leash nevertheless.
Even the tensest moments, like the dynamic build in “Ninna Nanna”, shows disciplined restraint. Quiet battles ensue between tonal and atonal passages, leaving the listener with the overall impression that neither one wins out. Pianists Gumi Shibata and Jenny Q. Chai give sensitive readings of the pieces, making them sound easier than they probably are. Keep one ear on Michael Vincent Waller for the time being, because something is happening.