Jesse Woolston tends to let his music speak for itself. Variations Vol. 1, the New Zealander’s fifth release, lands today with little in the way of fanfare or description.
He did offer this in an email: “This collection explores sound design, moods and soundtrack equivalent music. I work with a range of techniques from organ, strings and piano to redesigning sounds from a piano to create a new piece of music entirely.”
His light promotional touch fits well with his tastefully uncluttered compositional style. If life were as luxuriously paced as these six new pieces, we’d all enjoy a much-improved existence.
“Leaves of Grass” opens the recording with delicate bursts of drone and strings. The track is virtually shapeless. It hangs in the distance like an invitation to what comes next.
“Piano Form II” is what its title suggests. Woolston wasn’t exaggerating about employing a number of techniques. His imaginative use of the piano here turns what would otherwise be a straightforward ambient work into something more intricate and exacting.
The longest piece is “What Once Was,” at just shy of six minutes. Numerous pauses throughout the track build a quiet tension. A block of sound – including organ, strings and a vocal if I’m hearing it correctly – builds gradually. It peaks in a beautifully executed 20th century classical music style, and then backs away gently.
Both “The Meeting” and “Entering the Prism” are more dense. Woolston can produce marvelously detailed walls of sound when he wants to. Both these pieces demonstrate an adeptness with complexity that will serve him well as his star continues to rise.