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Exploring The Labyrinth That Is Pàppa D.'s 'Swing! The CalBal '23 Session

Pàppa D.'s Piano: A Single Instrument, A Universe of Feelings

Album cover of 'Swing! The CalBal '23 Session' by Pàppa D., featuring a vintage-inspired design with a classic piano and musical notes intertwined with elegant, golden art deco elements.
Album cover of 'Swing! The CalBal '23 Session' by Pàppa D.

Swing is a genre of music that, much like food, takes incredibly different forms depending on where, and when, you are in the world. Is it slow and sultry, playing on the melody to pull emotions through an elusive veil of sorrow? Is it chipper and sharp, cutting through the fat of the day to carve out a place of solitude? You’ll never know unless you give it a listen, which brings us to Pàppa D.’s latest album, ‘Swing! The CalBal ’23 Session.’ It’s an album that explores the world through piano; just one — one is enough to sketch out even the most complex of emotions. The songs flow and bite, they cry and laugh, and they take on lives of their own.

Over the hour that the album takes place in, you will follow a story, but no one knows what that story will be. We start with ‘Reminiscin’,’ a track that introduces us to our tones, textures, and velocities. The piano is brilliantly wooden, and Pàppa D. brings out the best of the instrument through his unique and masterful style of playing. The track opens curtains, it unlocks doors, it draws a map of the surrounding city. It’s a song of sunrise, a song of sunset. It evokes memory, and once it has pulled this memory from the depths of your psyche, it mounts it to reality. Here is where your story will be set, it is different to mine, and it will be different even to the artists. Therein lies one of the more beautiful aspects of instrumental music.

Promotional photograph of Pàppa D
Promotional photograph of Pàppa D

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The album presses on with tracks that do well to gear you for their sound with their titles. ‘Day ’n’ Night,’ is light to dark, or dark to light. It follows time as it flows through your setting, what changes, what doesn’t? ‘After 3AM,’ you’re broken, or perhaps, sharp as a scalpel. Your mind whirrs as you unfold your day or begin to plan the next — perhaps you will step off the barge of reality, into the waters of a dream. ‘Hooked On Swing’ for me acted as an interlude between the acts of my story. There are 3 takes of this track, each evolving and showcasing different personalities. On a practical level, it is nice to have different angles to one track to showcase the fluidity of the form. Swing and piano instrumental music as a whole is never the same twice, there is magic in its fleeting nature.

There’s so much in this album that I could write a thesis about it. Pàppa D. has strewn his heart about the music and from its indentations grow wild vines of melody, petals of harmony and chords of delightful sorrow. The album is skilful, touching, and above all else, classic. An album of such quality and uniqueness will never be boring to listen to, nor will it ever go out of style. Try, as I have, to explore the brass-coloured wonders of this stringed world and you will be bewildered by its depth and honesty of heart. A golden album that will rest my heart for years.

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