12 O'Clock Track: "An Wem: Notes From Underground," unnerving toy-piano ambience from Xenia Pestova

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Earlier this month I wrote about the superb toy-piano player Phyllis Chen. A deeply inventive and creative musician, Chen has helped to expand the instrument's repertoire into something of great breadth and possibility through her efforts as the organizer of the UnCaged Toy Piano Composition Competition and her own imagination as a musician. More recently I've been listening to Shadow Piano (Innova), a terrific album of dark, probing music performed by Xenia Pestova, a Russian-born musician now based in Wales, that includes a couple of intense toy-piano works in addition to music written for conventional piano and electronics. In contrast to the pieces on Chen's recent album The Little Things (New Focus), the music here is decidedly more harrowing and dark and free of whimsy. Today's 12 O'Clock Track is her performance of the Derek Hurst composition "An Wem: Notes From Underground," where jagged, glassy toy-piano flurries are awash in nightmarish refractions of synthesized and sampled sonic abstractions. Hold tight.

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