Benoit Delbecq: Nu-Turn

Though he has been one of the avatars of prepared piano for over a decade, Benoit Delbecq has only now released a solo album. Nu-Turn (Songlines) is well worth the long wait, a strikingly well-defined recording featuring an immaculate Steinway D piano. Throughout the album, Delbecq’s affinity for African and Asian folk music (which is most vividly evident in the timbres created by his driftwood preparations, which suggest indigenous percussion and string instruments) and his Paul Bley-derived lyricism and floating pulse constantly dovetail about one another. This accentuates the exotic, mysterious qualities of Delbecq’s music that, in the past, have been tempered in other settings. Propelled by a cool attack, the music lingers in the air like incense, pungent but not overwhelming. Nu-Turn is an excellent way to become familiar with one of the most distinctive pianists on the international scene.