Pursuing his modern classical exploration of the piano keyboard informed by ambient and electronic music while retaining a unique acoustic sound, French pianist Julien Marchal follows up his superb début with Insight II, released on 1631 recordings on 6th May 2016 last.

Julien Marchal - Insight II (2016)
Julien Marchal – Insight II (2016)

Devised by another keen disciple of the recent “bedroom classical” musical trend, Insight II was entirely home-made (composition, recording and mastering). Intensified by precise microphone placement, a distinct use of the damper pedal and the custom tuning of his German-made Sauter Concent piano, the musician has carved a rich signature sound around increasingly complex melodies.

With the clickety-clacks from the piano keys providing the organic rhythm and the incidental noises and hisses preserved in the final mix, Julien Marchal forges an intense and immersive listening experience with many themes derived from improvisation. Several tracks like Insight XVII or Insight XXI become a fascinating experimental catalysts for beautiful and infinite variations.

I asked myself a simple question: “how can I bring out a melody while both of my hands are looping around on the keyboard?” Gradually a melody blossomed from the keys struck by my thumb.

Julien Marchal on “Moth” from Tambour & Julien Marchal – Moderna split release – January 2015

instead of using tight closed chords for the left hand, I take the middle note (the third) and place it on top, which gives a different colour […] I need something more “exploded” which opens up and broadens the sound.

This approach probably captures the essence of Julien Marchal’s sound – crystal clear melody lines with plenty of breathing space between the notes, leaving ample room for potential remixes and collaborations.