12 March 2020 (released)
11 April 2020
Certainly, we can spare the preamble about our current global predicament. We're all in the same boat here and couldn't we all use some calmer vibrations right about now? It's not just new-age hippy practitioners that claim that stress is bad for the body, medical experts also extoll on the detriment of anxiety and mental distress on your immune system's ability to fight off viruses. Ideal for this situation is music that is unhurried, not jarring, and a net positive. When so many negative and worried emotions can be triggered by any number of topics, instrumental music emerges as the perfect tonic for these circumstances.
Take an often honoured pianist with a tremendous ability to articulate through her instrument. Give her pieces enough gravitas to echo the mind-wracking moment we're living through, yet keep them buoyant enough to quickly dash any chance of defeatism or melancholy. Put this all together on a four-song EP that comes in just shy of the 10-minute mark to keep anyone from dwelling and you have a brilliant antidote for these troubling times.
San Franciscan composer Kimberly Hou's debut EP features four quick vignettes that take you on a brief yet diverse journey from triumph through strife and coming out the other side with strength bolstered by love. The scant running time leaves one craving more and demands the EP be played on repeat. This runs the opposite of the standard piano album who's lengthy elaborations can be a test of patience unless you find yourself in some stage of a zoned-out stupor. Hou says all she needs to say in a fraction of the time.
Opus One's opener 'Field of Memories' is pensive as one would expect. That reflective mood where victories and defeats are intertwined into a nebulous limbo state. This vibe carries through to the similarly titled 'Reflections'. Hou takes on a more triumphant tone leaning into the proud accomplishments of the past. A fanfare-like melody that sticks in the brain. 'Dancing in Time' takes the listener for an airy dance and 'For My Love' bookends the collection with a lovely blooming finale.
Her debut album showcases her ability to craft sonic atmospheres that suspend the mind. Hou's compositions are refreshingly uncomplicated, no notes have been crammed in unnecessarily. This EP makes a great companion for these odd times.