Will Dutta’s music lies at the nexus where modern classical, New Age, and ambient electronica meet. He draws from all of them to create his own sonic geography: Sometimes it is lushly beautiful, other times it sounds as tortured and harsh as modern life, with textures that range from the stark purity of his piano to sounds heavily modified and manipulated by a bevy of producers.
It’s impossible to avoid the shadows of modern pioneers like Philip Glass and Brian Eno here, and Parergon (the word, by the way, means subordinate work) carries strong traces of the minimalism and atmospheres that are their hallmarks. But Dutta is a new generation, and his own man, used to working with producers and turntablists; collaboration is a vital part of his compositions. On both the opener, “Distance” and the disc’s centrepiece, the epic “Overcolour,” for example, he works with Warp veterans Plaid; they put their strained edges on the music, so that in a moment it can move from filigreed delicacy to the jaggedness of razor wire. It’s intense, roaring like a roller coaster until “Incarnation 11″ brings the breathing space of Dutta solo, but even that veers between the formal gentility and the dark, dramatic intensity of repeated chords played harder and harder, a deliberate study in contrasting emotions. Then Max de Wardener (who’s currently composing a concerto for Dutta) adds his frantic energy to “Aerophobia,” overlaying the soft notes of the piano with a disorienting scramble of beats and sounds and drones. It helps bring the closer, “Avril 14th,” into sharp focus, the music stripped down to just piano, the quiet romanticism coming as a soft exhalation of breath before quietly leaving.
With Parergon Dutta has created a daring debut, crammed with ambition but carried off with unerring vision and ability.