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ALBUM REVIEW 4/5: Eric Pan "Travel Poems. Chapter 1. Secret Towns" - jazz be the storyteller today

Our hearts and souls forever belong to ambient and neoclassical, but as music-lovers we naturally find ourselves curious and - every now and again - that curiosity is rewarded quite generously, such as with this crisp, piano-driven, jazz concept album by Eric Pan entitled "Travel Poems. Chapter 1. Secret Towns", which we are listening to today. With a title like that I felt invited to go along with the album track by track, without having listened to the entire album at first - attempting to reflect on the sonic journey as a first-time listener.

Intimate? Isn't that how we like art? Even in the most profound form of art we seek our something relatable - and often find it too. The first track on this piano endeavor, entitled "Gare Du Nord" reckons that by putting you right in the middle of a chatter, with a female voice giving you some kind of pointers or a brief story, perhaps non-essential in its context, but vital to the mood with its delivery - that's what I deciphered without speaking the word of the language at hand. Piano? Ah yes, it comes, introducing itself in the most elegant way - anticipating, contemplating and peculiar - its repetitive element of a lead note hypnotizing you towards what's next.

"Periscope Forest" is here to impress you and not just impress you, but I mean imprezz you - with pure, sexy, masterful jazz piano. Running confidently along the strangely delightful chords and scales, the song throws you into its momentum-driven paradigm for no apparent reason, but hey - you like the ride, so stick with it. With bird chirping in the back, what could possibly go wrong other than...? Ah, you see all things come to an end an nature-themed jazz bangers do too - just one-and-a-half minute in - it's all over, all the while the birds are still up an chirping. What universe are we in? By now, I want to know. Lead me on, creator.

Get out of the water, it's dark now and it is in the dark that the water becomes evil - or some kind of fascinating anyway. "Discovery After Dark", the third track on the album, is perhaps mostly notable with its arrangement - what until now was piano/asmr music has now made friends with a double-bass and a classy, very classy drum-set. Still spearheaded by a piano, the composition is both soothing and teasing, sometimes having you think 'standard', and then sometimes 'ha, that was cool' and then all over again. Whatever this may become, we know now that it comes from a mind that's intelligent and true to itself, embracing both light and darkness, as well as the very fact that one wouldn't exist without the other.

We were on a train on along! Have you ever taken a nap so good that when you woke up you thought you were late for school, but then seconds later you realized its Sunday and you're 30? That's kind of how I feel now, not to mention the clues were right before my eyes all along - the album cover, the title, the backing sounds... C'mon! You know what we need more of in the world? Forgiveness combined with perspective. Conveniently so, the fourth track on this album "Stranded Awake" seems to capture my well-placed awkwardness quite accurately with its nonchalant, passive-aggressive keyboard ramble. The track is quite frankly a perfect sonic representation of waking up in a strange place, recouping the situation, and - for one reason or another - not being able to leave right away.

Not to worry, after all, most things are manageable. They are. They may seem otherwise, but really they are manageable - how do you think we got this far, us, mad, mad, foolish humans? "Majesty of the Minute" is so far my favorite, it is. Contemplative and careless, the piano plays an array of richly composed bars without a worry in this world, yet fully aware of this moment - blissful. Funnily, I'm to involved in listening to it to be writing about it. You should try it too, it's a musical charmer for all walks of life. Imagine seeing the most appealing, happy, beautiful person gazing deeply into the abyss, captivating you with their presence for five minutes and fifty-five seconds - it's a bit like that.

You must've passed out and you're in a dream. There's the faceless friend of yours you love and the scenario that resembles reality but is too mesmerizing and bizarre with it's entertaining nonsense to be real - here's "Foot of the Carpathians" - the sixth song on this jazz-fueled album. Torn between paradigms, the piano thrives and grows on itself, inviting impressionist drums and the sweet sound of a double-bass, entertaining your ear with pure class. Elaborate, rich and with each bar more inventive and surprising than the former - the pianist immerses into the instrument and the music and takes us along with him.

"Up Jakupica" is here to - once more - impress you. Swift, complex and momentum-driven it leaves you no chance of walking away. You will definitely stay through this one-and-a-half minute long celebration of joy and spontaneity, a needed refreshment on an engaging journey, after which we move onto one more epitome to the artist's relationship with music and universal beauty at large entitled "Hamstrung". Impressionistic and free it embraces the moment, thinks not about it, but does damn well with it. Brief, just over minute long, it captures a moment worth the attention, delivers it with grace, then walks off again, nonchalant, the sweet spot between memorable and forgettable, like true poets often are.

Off we go to our final destination! Full on swinging jazz infused beauty, no questions asked and all answers at hand - confident, Brangelina kind of hot and packed with sweet detail and ever more sweeter intent. Much like reaching one's destination, "Wheelhouse of Wonder" - as much as we loved the journey - feels relieving and rewarding. The trio is taking the jazz off the grid - piano, bass and drums working flawlessly together in a moment of true appreciation - your sonic Ferrari to your condo, or rather the final bit on this album entitled "Epilogue" - a brief chatter of what sounds like a bunch of young ones debating in an outdoor setting.

Altogether this was without a doubt a pleasurable journey, filled with playfully skillful jazz piano, entertaining, brilliant elaborations and a fine, charming red-thread to stitch it all together, earning itself a strong 4 out of 5 stars - and we spared it the last one primarily due to our neoclassical and ambient preferences. Otherwise, a highly recommendable album that should appeal to most walks of life, jazz away on your preferred streaming platform below:

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