Born in Bucharest, Mischa Blanos is a young classically-trained pianist and an electronic musician. Renouncing very early on an expected career path of solo concert recitals, the pianist embraced an alternative trajectory integrating experimentation and improvisation with electronic music performance. Encouraged perhaps by the understanding that interpreting the classical repertoire while also composing new music were not mutually exclusive, the young pianist embraced the sounds of contemporary electronica and moved to Berlin. Following on from two previous EPs – Second Nature (2018) and Indoors (2019) – City Jungle is the pianist’s first full-length solo record for the Paris-based InFiné label and was released on 21 May 2021 last.
Mischa Blanos’ music is not only informed by his classical training but also by the collaborative projects he has been conducting in parallel. While bringing their DJ sets to the world’s most famous clubs, Mischa Blanos, Cristi Cons and Vlad Caia, all on synthesisers and percussions, have recently released two EPs in 2018 and 2020 under the Amorf moniker to explore an ambient techno soundscape. Under the Alimori alias, the pianist has also released a solo EP (A Chair in the Museum) and a collaborative EP (Four Seasons. Altered with Stefan Dragusin) blending loops, modular synthesisers, keyboard, piano and beats. And in June 2020 last, the pianist released the aptly-titled CrossRhodes, a duo recording where Mischa Blanos on acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes converses freely with the clarinet and bass clarinet of Khori Ander with an improvisational perspective.
Since his first 2018 solo EP, Mischa Blanos has been articulating a fascinating electro-acoustic synthesis of two cultural traditions, marrying the gravitas of the concert hall performance (recalled on “Audition at 9” for instance) with the thrill of clubbing. On City Jungle, these two worlds interact again on equal footing.
Always hinging on the grand piano, Mischa Blanos is consistently complementing his sound with analogue and electronic keyboards, synthesisers, prepared piano techniques, loops and beats. On “Silicon Road”, the pianist magnificently intertwines melody lines on the acoustic piano and on the Fender Rhodes while making the most out of the dynamic range afforded by the grand piano – on many occasions, the impressive sustain of the instrument blends seamlessly with textured drones. Almost entirely acoustic bar subtle background electronic layers, the evocative “Crystal” combines a modern classical structure with a touch of dissonance.
Over the years, Mischa Blanos has lived in various European cities such as Berlin, Bucharest, London, Hamburg or Paris, all exuding of course a distinct identity and vibe, “each of them with new rules to follow and different rhythms to attune to.” Conceived in isolation, City Jungle is a post-pandemic reflection on what was lost during these extensive periods of lockdown whereby forced curfews in urban centres brought nightlife to a standstill. Introduced by a looping motif, a piece like “Innervision” for instance reaches very quickly an ecstatic apotheosis, swelling with the same urgency as a dancefloor filler. That same track was remixed straight away by his Amorf associate Cristi Cons. Or mirroring a typical night out clubbing, the mood switches rapidly within the album from elation (“City Jungle”) to chillout (“Fluorescence”).
The record also sees the pianist delving into the complexities of polyrhythms with dazzling dexterity. “Tiptoe” in particular was written with the piano as a percussive instrument in mind while “The Aerie” juxtaposes two different time signatures between the piano on one hand and synthesisers and beats on the other. Superbly recorded and executed, City Jungle stems from a musician with a deep insight into classical time signatures and the common bpm associated with various electronic dance music styles, both informing an incomparable groove on the grand piano.