AMBIENCE is Big Round Records’ latest release from composer Joe Hume. After a decade of working exclusively as a professional pianist, Hume has returned to composing in a big way with this compelling 11-track album of airy original solo piano pieces.
The bright, spacious textures of café de Paris—the album’s first track—sets the tone for what is to follow. Though brief, at less-than three minutes long, the piece breathes peacefully, with its unhurried motion punctuated by brief modulations. Next one hears Del Mar, a songful, poignant meditation. As the album continues, each piece sets a scene for the listener—The Swan floats with agility between major and minor, while Northern Shore sings with a lilting cadence like waves lapping at a rocky shoreline. Adagio for Strings, previously released as a single in July 2019, is rich and expansive, harnessing the piano’s warm lower-middle voice. Nocturne, as its name suggests, is tender and thoughtful, with long arpeggiated chords rolling seamlessly with the tune in the right hand. Winter’s Tale concludes the album, with melodic lines so cleanly crafted that one’s mind can almost imagine words hidden in the piano music.
Hume writes that he set out to create music that was “melodic, calming, yet powerful in its delivery.” The composer/pianist has no doubt succeeded in this endeavor. As its title suggests, AMBIENCE could simply be treated as lovely background noise —but that doesn’t mean it should be. After all, listeners who take a moment to close their eyes and listen deeply may find Hume’s piano is singing for them.