Release Date: September 22, 2023
“Swim to America, Vol. 2 (une rétrospective Stephan Eicher au piano) is Doug Hammer's second installment of a three-part series from the original music of Stephan Eicher. I found the first volume enjoyable and anticipate feeling the same regarding this release. Vol. 3 is expected to be released next year.
"Confettis" starts the proceedings in a very bright and upbeat manner. The arrangement is fast-moving and simply a delight for the senses, setting up the listener for a complete journey through the piano's keys.
"Pas d'ami (comme toi)" begins in a more subdued way, then proceeds to pick up the pace. Doug's brilliance on the keys shines bright as he picks up the melody and delivers the bass with one hand and the lead with the other. Doug's talented fingers bring both parts of the song to your ears. I like the skill and variety of his compositions.
"Combien de temps" is another excellent example of how solo piano can hold your attention by sounding utterly different than the previous track. There are never any similarities that I can hear. There are a few parts where Doug shows his talents with that rapid rolling of the keys, which sounds fantastic.
What continually gets my attention consistently is the flow and clarity of every track. Also, the artwork on the cover cleverly shows the artist getting caught in the rising surf. This is the metaphor related to the title. And interestingly, I find myself swimming in the music; my entire person is surrounded and consumed by the rhythm and beauty.
As things move further into the tracks, like on "Wider Da," I heard the sentiment and sadness in the music. I can listen to a story being played inside my mind and how it's affecting my feelings. It is simpler than previous tracks, however, very purposeful, thus the space in the music to reflect. As I have often said, I found the beauty in the sadness.
"Rien n'est si bon" is a gorgeous composition based on classical (as all this music is) with a convergence of contemporary with the pace of a slow walk in the park while you breathe in the cool air as the sun sets beyond in the mountains. It is dramatic yet picturesque.
All those tracks offer a mental escape from reality and continue to the end. There is nothing wrong with taking the time to let the music remove you from your current state or mindset, if you will. The music you will hear is unique because it is simply piano and with no need for lyrics. The passion with which they are presented and played will have you going back for another listen to revisit all the emotions and mostly good feelings you can experience.
Thirteen tracks, all stand-alone stories, are played perfectly. After covering Doug Hammer's music for so many years now, it is no surprise how much I appreciate this wonderful music and must come to expect a certain level of excellence. For my ears, this is what I needed to hear.
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-NAMR Founder
September 8, 2023
01. Confettis 3:45
02. Pas d’ami (comme toi) 3:06
03. Combien de temps 3:24
04. Rivière 3:40
05. Wider Da 3:08
06. Rien n'est si bon 3:40
07. Clear My Throat 4:25
08. Je n’attendrai pas 2:16
09. Monsieur - Je ne sais pas trop 3:07
10. Rêverie 4:23
11. Où Sont Les Clés ? 4:04
12. Du 2:34
13. Wie Einem Der Gewissheit Hat 2:21