Just over a year after her impressive solo piano début album Esja for Gondwana Records, Polish pianist and composer Hania Rani returns with a new collection which expands significantly on her original sound. Featuring double bass, drums, a string quintet and the pianist herself on synthesisers, keyboards, electronics and vocals, Home was released on 29 May 2020 last.

Hania Rani - Home (2020)
Hania Rani – Home (2020)

Hania Rani introduces Home as the second part to the same book. It turns out that all the pieces on Esja and Home were more or less composed during the same period from 2016 onwards. Esja was released first as a solo piano collection to establish Hania Rani’s sound. Home continues on in the same vein with eight solo piano compositions.

But the multiple layers, the additional musicians and vocals by the pianist herself on five new songs generate a wealth of sonic and melodic opportunities. By inviting two members from Gdansk-based prog-jazz trio Immortal Onion to tour and record with her – namely Ziemowit Klimek on double bass and Wojtek Warmijak on drums – Hania Rani injects a fresh energy and signals an alternative path in terms of composition, arrangements and production. In doing so, Hania Rani quotes Nils Frahm’s album Spaces, the sound of Portico Quartet or GoGo Penguin as a major source of inspiration.

The arrangements on the instrumental “Zero Hour” for instance reveal the collective voice of a band at work. Concluding the album, the song “Coming Back Home” features a Moog synthesiser throughout, thus totally relinquishing the acoustic piano for the first time. Another first on the album is the presence of a string quintet on “Tennen”, a cinematic orchestral composition featuring percussion, bass and electronics.

The idea of “Home” – actual or “places that become our home sometimes by chance, sometimes by choice” is the central theme of the album. Designed by the architect Łukasz Pałczyński, the cover artwork features a sketched home superimposed on an open sky summer landscape.

I strongly believe that when being in uncertain times and living an unstable life we can still reach peace with ourselves and be able to find ‘home’ anywhere’ This is what I would like to express with my music – one can travel the whole world but not see anything. It is not where we are going but how much we are able to see and hear things happening around us

In some cases, the piano becomes the anchor, the metaphorical temporary home, either battered by wind and sub-zero temperatures on location in some “unreal Icelandic landscape” on “F major” or washed by the tide in Greece on “Leaving”.

Earlier this September, Hania Rani released a rework of La Damoiselle élue, a Claude Debussy composition which features on Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson’s superb 2020 Debussy – Rameau – an intriguing digression for the modern classical pianist which further underlines her role as a producer on Home.