Parjam Parsi - Immeasurable Distance (Album Review)

Multi-disciplinary artist Parjam Parsi's work in the fields of visual art and music has produced stunning abstract visual pieces and delicately morish compositions. Born in Tehran, Iran and now based between there and Yerevan, Armenia, Parsi creates music which is thoughtful, patient, and full of both innately human and otherworldly emotion. His 2009 album, "Immeasurable Distance", has been given a digital rerelease, and for those of us who missed it the first time, it represents the artist's close relationship with minimalism and their ability to craft aching solo piano pieces. Despite the title, the album can be measured; Its 11 songs stretch across just over thirty minutes of optimism, despair, and pensive thought. 

The natural sound is further represented in the various sounds associated with the piano and not just the keys themselves; the hammer's releasing, the stool squeaking, and even fingertips hitting ivory is audible. This gives the album its intimate mood, often feeling like a comfort blanket of rich decibels. While the tracks all follow a similar minimalistic palette of closely miked piano and barely-there electronics, they each offer a unique perspective and mood. Even the mawkish and less inventive tracks like "Somewhere" have a simplistic charm that never irritates. And though this is a piano album, through and through, there are the very light electronics of "To a Reason" that flicker in the background like a low fog.

Perhaps technically the most accomplished of the tracks, the romanticism of "Words" with its Yann Tiersenesque vibe, plays like the soundtrack of a cutesy French film and sees Parsi exhibit his flare for quickly-struck keys that twist the soul as they pirouette around changes in intensity. This is contrasted with the unhurried meditations of "Over There", the bass keys of which are low in the mix while the treble keys cry out in dramatic laments. The accessibility of these tracks can not be overstated. It would be hard to find someone who disliked Parsi's innocent, bittersweet piano playing. Rarer would be to find those who connect with it on a deep level. There's a utilitarian aspect to the album, meant to aid work and relaxation rather than to be appreciated in and of itself. However, plenty of delights are waiting for those who pay attention. "Railyards", for example, has an instantly recognizable and likeable ostinato, "Confession" is a wonderfully light and floaty piece that seems to reside on the astral plane, far from the grounding elements of the earth. "So far" and "So close" close the album in a two-part focus on pained regrets, the kind too far in the past, present, or future, contrasted with gorgeous optimism that is so close to the corporeal world you feel it in your bones. 

"Immeasurable Distance" by Parjam Parsi is an impressive album of solo piano work that showcase the artist's playing abilities and compositional talents. While not exactly the most diverse collection of tracks, all colouring within the lines of discernible solo piano melodies, they never repeat or recycle ideas to the extent it feels stale. In fact, freshness and wonder are delivered with care and expression in this collection of timelessly beautiful music.