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Classical Music Review

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Viral Nature


Composer: Mac Dunlop
Performed by: Mac Dunlop (piano)
Label: Mac Dunlop
RRP: £5
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Release Date: 12 April 2020

Mac Dunlop releases his latest album of piano compositions. Viral Nature includes 8 tracks (58 min, 07 sec) some of which are acoustic piano compositions while others are ambient electronic mixes. As genres go, it sits between jazz and new classical...

The piano is an instrument thats sound most people either feel comforted by or find rather annoying. Growing up in a household where the piano was constantly in use, I find the majority of tracks on Mac Dunlop's Viral Nature offer a rather nostalgic experience. There's something magical about a solo piano performance - it's almost as though you can hear the artists personality flowing through the music.

On this recording, Dunlop also makes use of digital technology to deliver sounds and an atmosphere that would have been impossible to replicate on the piano. 'Cat's Purr', for example, has a background hum and a repeating main segment that is effective and almost hypnotic.

It's another wonderfully engaging release from Dunlop. I'm not sure if the solo piano pieces were totally improvised, him playing around with an idea he had in his head, or fully composed pieces. It doesn't really matter, I suppose, but you do get the feeling that you've stumbled into his living room, unnoticed while he's experimenting with his craft.

While it's not imperative to know the background to each piece, it's always interesting to get inside the artists mind set to see what drives them and what inspired each piece.

The composers notes for each track are as follows:

01 - 'So Much for Low Tide' is a piano composition that eases across the day, weaving inside out, one note after another imagining and measuring its passing.
02 - 'Cat's Purr' is an ambient electronic piece inspired by the sound of purring. It's dedicated to a cat I used to know named Izzy.
03 - 'Viral Nature - Part 2' is the second of two piano companion pieces. Together they form a sort of 'Janus' view of collective confinement. This second part is the meditative interior soul. Part one, the less patient exterior. Like book ends they are held in place by other treasures.
04 - 'Empty Day' - sometimes only laziness fills time. Imagine a collection of instruments hanging in a room that come to life, gather their thoughts in the absence of musicians.
05 - 'Viral Nature - Part 1', the first of the confined companions, Janus is a two faced spirit, the meaning behind the smile.
06 - 'Tavira testing 1,2...1,2...' is a journey to a place called Tavira, which is in Portugal. This track travels to the place it was made, and ends on arrival. It combines field recordings with found sound and ambient electronica.
07 - 'Nice Moon' gathers some simple melodic structures together with unforced rhythms, returning to the contemplative.
08 - 'A seed sprouts for Dave' - Dave is a friend, a wonderful musician and performer. The last year and a half have been hard for him and his loved ones. This is a song about the journey we are all on. Dave is just a little up ahead. A heartbeat lying at the centre of us all.


Darren Rea