Ambessence piano & drones
First collaborative work between

Bruno Sanfilippo & Mathias Grassow
Recorded at Onix Studio · Barcelona
and at Akroasis Studio · Wiebaden
Cover design by ©Dianne Owen
Released by ad21 ad109
Release date: 24 March 2008

CD copies have completely SOLD OUT

Available digitally from:
Bandcamp | iTunes | Spotify

Ambessence piano & drones

by Matt Howarth ·
This release from 2008 offers 62 minutes of cerebral piano tunes seasoned with haunting ambience.

While Sanfilippo plays a sampled and processed grand piano, Grassow contributes synth drones, glass harp and bow chime.
A distinct combination of tradition and modernism. As one might expect, the music generally consists of piano laced with textural flows.
The keys are stroked with tenderness, evoking cerebral melodies steeped in a soft serenity.
The notes are far from repetitive, utilizing a classical recital touch that comfortably generates lush tunes of gentle beauty.

Meanwhile, the electronics bestow an airy disposition on the tuneage.
Languid atmospherics settle upon each song, immersing the serious piano chords in a fog of ethereal majesty, enhancing the overall elegance of the music.
These tones drift with little variance, maintaining a sighing resonance with the central tunes, following their congenial progress with subtle association, ebbing and rising in tandem with the piano’s emotional state.
A certain transference goes on between the piano and the tonalities, flavoring each other with their personal character.
The piano adopts a discrete intangibility, while the wafting ambience picks up a touch of regal eloquence.
This trade-off serves to further unify the music into an undulant presence of pacifying mien.

Yet there are instances where the textural atmospherics move beyond their fragility and attain a notable substantiality, sometimes rivaling the piano’s lilting occupancy. The compositions are tranquil and stately, crafted for appreciation by an intellectual audience.
The application of ephemeral atmospheric electronics only increases the music’s introspective demeanor.
There are no surging tempos here, no surprise crescendos, just steadfast structures of soothing influence.


by rik ping things
In honour of the tenth anniversary of ad21, label head Bruno Sanfilippo has released "Ambessence piano and drones", a collaboration with Mathias Grassow. Blending together drones and piano work, this disc is a wonderful summation of the label's sound, serving well as both a celebration for existing fans and an introduction to ad21music for a new audience.

"Ambessence Piano and Drones 1" opens the disc, weaving Sanfilippo's beautiful piano work throughout the course of a steady drone supplied by Grassow. Bruno's piano has a subtle charm here, displaying an emotional nature that I've come to associate with his work. From the start it's clear that this is an excellent pairing, the two working well together to blend musical ideals and shape them into something new.

"Ambessence Piano and Drones 2" features a more drone based feel, the piano still very apparent but acting more as a counterpoint to the sound of the drone. As it rises and falls in strength and volume, the drone develops a more natural tone, the sound of wind or the tides, some sort of powerful force that holds sway over all others. A particularly dark and beautiful track.

In "Ambessence Piano and Drones 3" the piano takes centre stage again, a mournful melody played overtop a low drone.
It's a stunningly beautiful piece, a heartbreaking melody accompanied by a dark and dreary mechanical tone that somehow brings to mind a dark machine overtaking the countryside. Around the five minute mark, the piano is dropped from the track and the drone shifts slightly, reversed sounds sprinkled throughout the soundspace leading us to the end. A very stirring and evocative work that's surely one of my favorites on the disc.

A repeating piano loop opens up "Ambessence Piano and Drones 4", layers of melodic piano weaving in and around themselves.
Occasionally a low tone rises up through the sound, but for the most part the soundfield is filled with a tapestry of piano sounds rising and falling beautifully throughout the track, enveloping and encircling the listener in quite beautiful ways.

"Ambessence Piano and Drones 5" starts quietly with a slow drone that builds up from nothing until it reaches a steady state of being. Sanfilippo's piano blends in seamlessly, providing sparse melodies that fit in perfectly with the proceedings.
A delicate, fragile and very very wonderful work.

There's a certain regal sound to the drone that opens "Ambessence Piano and Drones 6",
a feeling of rich tones and deep reverb. The track has a very full sound that suggests caverns or chambers, places filled with mystery and secrets. It's an evocative sound, one that's almost theatrical in nature. Certainly another wonderful track that stands
out as one of my favorites in this collection.

A percolating whirl of sounds opens "Ambessence Piano and Drones 7", alternating ascending and descending arpeggios to form a backdrop to a sparse melody. There's an uplifting quality to the track, a sense of hope and possibility and of course that's always a good way to end things. A very beautiful track to end a very beautiful disc.

I've been a fan of ad21music's catalog for some now, and have very much enjoyed all
of the work I've heard from them in the past. "Ambessence Piano and Drones" is another excellent release from the label, a release that I'm sure fans of both artists will appreciate very much. I strongly recommend it not only as an excellent introduction to the label but also as an example of how differing styles can be brought together in ways that compliment and develop on each other's strengths.


by Marius-Christian Burcea · RFI Journeys to the InfiniteRadio
There is a clear connection between Ambessence and the previous Sanfilippo's title
Piano Textures. The floating, timeless quality of the piano notes is still here, but now the effect is more intense with Grassow's textures couched in subtle drones.
Moments of irresistible beauty silently vibrate and resonate inside, opening a vast inner space of clarity and spiritual emotion.
This work seems to require an intuitive mode of perception that seeks to overcome chaotic multiplicity and establish contact with a
deep and authentic unifying essence. Beneath the calm waves of Ambessence lies the promise of bliss.


by Roberto Vales · A Ultima Fronteira
Qué sucede cuando dos de los grandes nombres del panorama del ambient actual se unen? Pues la creación de un fantástico trabajocomo es "Ambessence Piano & Drones".
Bruno Sanfilippo que nos había deleitado con su anterior disco "Piano Textures" se úne a Mathias Grassow para crear este trabajo donde el título ya nos indica que es lo que nos vamos a encontrar. Este disco es una perfecta sincronización de los delicados sonidos de piano creados por Bruno Sanfilippo con los inconfundibles drones de Mathias Grassow.
El sonido de Bruno se ha vuelto delicado, inconfudible, las notas de su piano nos embriagan y se apoderan de nosotros, con su dulzura, con su temple y la unión con Mathias ha dado lugar a un trabajo de esos que hay que disfrutar tranquilamente, sentados en el sillón ydejando que sus notas se vayan apoderando poco a poco de nosotros.
Como nos indican los propios compositores, este es un disco para escuchar a un volumen moderado y es que este es un disco para
relajarnos, para disfrutar de sus sonidos, dejar que poco a poco se apoderen de nosotros y nos embriaguen para sumergirnos en un lugar de ensueño del cual no queremos salir.


by Paul Rijkens · Dutch progressive rockmagazine iO Pages
Piano Textures was the fitting title of the last solorecord by the Argentine multi-instrumentalist Bruno Sanfilippo who lives and works in Spain.
This album was awarded a "Tip" in iO Pages #74. It contained wonderful calm pianosounds with a atmospheric background. Music, that looks rather simple but has a stunning beauty, as is the fact with a lot of ambient music. On Ambessence, Piano & Drones, Sanfilippo works with a musical kindred congenial from Germany, Mathias Grassow.
He is an experienced electronic/ambientmusician. Sanfilippo plays the "Old Lady Grand Piano" (a sampled model 1923 Steinway D, that he also used on Piano Textures) and Grassow "Neuronal V-Synth Drones" and other instruments.
This collaboration again results in a great piece of soft, intense music.
It is divided into seven parts. Grassow produced very intriguing calm atmospheres (soundscapes, choirs) and Sanfilippo plays loosened and relaxed on top of these sounds. This results in some extremely fine moments as in the parts 1, 5, 6 and 7.
The last track could also be used as filmmusic.
Sometimes I hear a hint to the albums that Harold Budd and Brian Eno produced together. This is excellent music to be played on a rather quiet moment of the day, especially late in the evening. This disc than should, as the gentlemen recommend, be listened at a moderate volume. I hadn't planned it otherwise.


by Bert Strolemberg · Sonicimmersion
After his introspective solo album “Piano Textures”, Argentinean composer Bruno Sanfilippo collaborated with German ambient musician Mathias Grassow to create the transparent, sedate soundings of “Ambessence piano & drones”.
The album contains seven reflective sonic excursions in which Bruno’s delicate piano playing beautifuly compliments the fluid, airy soundscapes of Mr Grassow. The outcome is dreamy and totally relaxing, a nice means to sooth the mind and make it wander.
Those who love the ambient works of Brian Eno and Harold Budd should make sure to get a copy of this well produced and composed album.


by Paul Jury · Morpheus Music
Beautiful, beautiful, soft, elegant piano melodies and subtle, enveloping drones. Ambessence piano and drones sets a new level of blissful dreaminess. Hazy, gossamer breathing strains with the lightest of touches hang weightless, shapeless as if the very air itself has been transformed into to music. Sometimes the underlying sonic textures are so transparent they might simply be environmental recordings, a thickening of emptiness. From within come the most exquisitely delicate piano lines you might imagine, the most sensitive of fragile forms, muted phrases and dulcet progressions that seem to have all the time in the world in which to unfurl - each fresh piece as beguiling, as graceful as the last. The balance between melody and ambient space is expertly worked so that you never quite feel that you are listening to 'tunes' as such, yet the gradual, spacious unfolding of these melancholy arrangements has you captivated - pulled along like a fallen leaf on a stream.

ARTWORK: The album cover features a photograph by Dianne Owen of what appear to be Anton Gormley's Another Place figures from the Mersey Estuary. Sculpted sentinels stand upright gazing through waves of digital mists - serene, dignified, bathed in grey - attentive, absorbed. This image recurs throughout the package in varied form.
On the reverse is a timed tracklist and a recommendation on how to listen to the album. Within we find a portrait of each musician set against a panel of credits, website details and a breakdown of instrumentation.

OVERALL: Released on ad21music on the date of the label's 10th anniversary, this latest release sees Argentinean Bruno Sanfilippo in collaboration with the prolific German drone and overtone musician Mathias Grassow. The seven tracks vary from just over six minutes through to just short of fifteen - a total of one hour, one minute and fifty seconds of pure escape. This release could easily become a tranquil backdrop to your day should you wish it - but if you actually give yourself over to it and listen completely you will be transported, so far from daily life is this musical place, a place of lightness, sleepy introspection and safety. Such economical, fragile keyboard work inevitably calls to mind the gentler compositions of Satie - yet these musicians somehow manage to free their pieces almost of all gravity altogether.
I can't recommend this CD highly enough