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Darren Pickering Small Worlds: Volume I and II



Darren Pickering Small Worlds
Darren Pickering, of New Zealand helms his Small Worlds ensemble from behind his concert grand

You may not have heard much about pianist Darren Pickering and his ensemble Small Worlds outside Australasia, and that is a pity. The cinematic quality of his music is evocative of endless vistas, stretching from the interior landscape of his mind from into the nooks and crannies of mysterious worlds in and around his native New Zealand. However, Mr Pickering’s worldview is vaster than the ensemble Small Worlds suggests. There are few more guarantees of quality in contemporary music than if that moniker appears alongside Mr Pickering’s name on the cover of a disc.

On these two volumes we ourselves heading into the countryside of Mr Pickering’s world of music, making friends with colourful first nations and Biblical characters. We find ourselves falling prey to old world charm and magical tone textures all wrought by music made in the warmth of acoustic, and electric instruments – also performed by guitarist Mitch Dwyer, bassist Pete Fleming and drummer Mitch Thomas – softly nudging the upper reaches of the atmosphere by Mr Pickering’s modular iPad.

Darren Pickering Small Worlds: Volume One

Volume One: You will hear a sense of freedom in the pianism of Mr Pickering, engaged in a dance around the tonally bright harmonics of Mr Dwyer’s guitar. There is elegance in both their playing, which is masterfully upheld by the rumbling bass of Mr Fleming and the rattle, hum, and sizzle of percussion colourist Mr Thomas. You will be drawn into the natural landscape of the music on Volume One that mixes beauty and danger. You will be entranced as you experience the bigness of Small Worlds music. Whether evocative of freezing nights in Estonia, of long rainy days in Ixtapa; the loneliness east of Eden in Cain Song or unravelling the mystery and magic of Klazmus and in the painterly Strega Tone Poem, each track takes us into some wonderful place with trusted and inspiring musical friends.

Music – 1: Simple Ballad; 2: Moody 7; 3: In the Know(er); 4: Ixtapa; 5: Cain Song; 6: Standing; 7: Estonia; 8: Klazmus; 9: Strega Tone Poem.

Darren Pickering Small Worlds: Volume Two

Volume Two: The journey continues through the second part of this musical sojourn – and it is as magical and magnificent as you would expect. Combining the suggestion of ancient modal drones, classical elegance and avant-garde subversion, Darren Pickering Small Worlds create a compelling sound-bed for four voices of contrasting character. Every piece is played here by the musicians with a kind of languid ease, each melodic variation – from song to song – following the other, quite inexorably. Once again the sumptuous tone of the instruments is caught in a brilliant recording. There is an unhurried character to the approach in Mr Pickering’s music, a lived-in character to his phrase-making that is engaging and combines the well-honed values of experience and youthful brimstone and fire. As before there is a wonderful combination of balladry [Intimate and the two Interlude variations], sassy swing [Oneroa Bay and bluesy evocations [Blue Mind].

Deo gratis…

Music – 1: Oneroa Bay; 2: Reverse; 3: Bibo No Aozora; 4: Blue Mind; 5: Interlude A; 6: Chasing Pavements; 7: TA2; 8: Mazawati Tea; 9: Intimate; 10: Interlude B; 11: La Perla [for Benjamin].

Musicians – Darren Pickering: piano, modular iPad; Mitch Dwyer: guitar; Pete Fleming: bass; Mitch Thomas: drums

Volume One
Released: 2022
Label – Rattle [1 – 1051 2022]
Runtime – 45:43

Volume Two
Released: 2023
Label – Rattle [1 – 1055 2023]
Runtime – 47:42

Based in Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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