Immersive Passionate Soundscapes

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Wildering Haven

"I am of the opinion that sound can expand consciousness, and with the syncing of these two diverse worlds I create the ultimate journey for myself to transcend my current time, space and reality." Juan Sánchez performs live at venues in and around Barcelona and the Catalonia region of Spain whenever possible; he hopes to perform in the U.S. in the coming years.

Juan Sánchez is a composer living in Barcelona, Spain; currently, he is primarily focused on the piano. In his twenties, he lived in London and performed with live bands before returning to Spain.  In 1999, he retreated to the studio to make instrumental ambient electronic music, and since then he has been creating music for multimedia and sound libraries for music producers. 

His life began to change when he discovered the emotive music of ambient piano artists Max Richter and Ludovico Einaudi. He fell deeply in love with their compositions. They were different from the others, using the piano as the main instrument, and sometimes mixing classical music with electronic sounds. He started searching for similar music, and discovered other artists such as Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds, Joep Beving and Hania Rani. This was the push that he needed to begin composing his own music in the neo-classical/ambient genre.

In March of 2019 he released the single “Rebirth” on Spotify which quickly began to accumulate attention, as people began adding it to their public and personal playlists. That led him to release his first album, also titled Rebirth, in September of 2019, which quickly elicited dozens of positive listener comments and music-usage requests by YouTubers, likely due to the highly-emotional appeal of the music. Juan loves to collaborate with filmmakers and fellow pianists, and as his music spread, he was delighted to  welcome fans of solo piano, contemporary piano, classical crossover and new age music to his eclectic online following.

Juan’s next studio work evolved during the worldwide pandemic lockdown in 2020 and is titled Now The Silence, a reflective musical journey through moments of hope as well as despair, featuring arpeggios that seemingly float in the air.

His dream as an instrumental music composer is to tell his own stories without lyrics which allow people to connect with the music on an emotional level. He does not want people to only listen to his music, he wants them to feel it and connect with it. As a pianist, he hopes to play live concerts around the world in the coming years.

"To hear music is one thing, but to feel it, it’s just another. I prefer to feel the music as when I only listen to it, I do not get the same level of satisfaction." On a deep level, music is language for emotion. It allows us to express feelings that we can't quite express or feel with language. Music is also a feeling and story. "When I was really little, my parents would turn on a cassette tape in the tape player in my room for me to fall asleep to. Only it didn't exactly help me fall asleep--I would stay awake listening to it because I would imagine a story to go along with the music on the tape. The entire album was one big story with my own imagined characters." 

He has just (in October 2021) released his third album, Touch & Sound. He is exploring the combination of ethereal female voices mixed with synthesizers, while continuing his passion for the sound of the acoustic piano in different settings.

Juan was a semi-finalist in Spain’s famous MIN Independent Music Awards, and holds the distinction of being the only classical music nominee who composed, performed and submitted original music to the classical field. 

In 2021, Juan joined the Latin Grammy organization, and submitted his album Now The Silence for consideration in Best Instrumental Album and Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

Sánchez's large following has come to expect a trickle of new music every month. In 2021, after a very creative spring and summer, Sánchez amassed this "mega album" presenting fans with a deeply-immersive listening experience. Balanced and melodic, yet organic and intuitive, Touch & Sound’s 17 tracks reflect Sánchez’ masterful ability to write understated music while also cultivating a much deeper connection with all the elements that drive his musical works. Here, fans will find insight, wonder and adventure; the new works are deeply tied to his personal experiences and observations about life and the world, powerful stories without lyrics.

“The meaning behind Touch & Sound is the hybridization of my two loves - growing up as a classical musician and falling in love with Ambient/New Age electronic music later on,” says Sánchez. “I strongly believe that simple pieces of music, played with just the right touch and sound, can create an amazing atmosphere. This is what I have tried to demonstrate with this album.”

Touch & Sound introduces many pleasant surprises, straddling the line between edginess and comfort, allowing the audience to discover a new set of stimuli for their senses. Striving to craft music as a portal to a deeper narrative dimension, he moves beyond the usual genre-driven clichés with this album.

“I am of the opinion that sound can expand consciousness, and with the syncing of these two diverse worlds I create the ultimate journey for myself to transcend my current time, space and reality,” notes Sánchez. He has collaborated with numerous renowned musicians, including sopranos Morgane Matteuzzi (“Sands Of Time”), Nacre (“For When It Rains”), Kirine (“Le Grand Bleu”) and Caroline Joy Clarke (“Into The Night”); violinist Mirela Nita (“Piga al Cel”); cello players Liz Hanks (“Paralian”), Yoed Nir (“Human Rights”) and Daniel Frankhuizen (“Where Are They Now?”) plus duduk player Ilia Mazia (“A Nocturne”). The production team included Runar Blesvik, Simon Teece, Miguel Mendoza and Bruno Sanfilippo.

Sánchez always experiments, he is a classical musician falling in love with Ambient/New Age electronic music. This time he is exploring the combination of strings and ethereal female voices, while continuing his passion for the sound of the acoustic piano in different settings. There is the most subtle electronica present in many places, but the sound is stories told on a solo piano without lyrics, created to allow a connection with the music on an emotional level. Listen to the generous epic sounds exploring notions of time, childhood, the moon, the rain, piano with a duduk, a lullaby, the discipline of calm, international human rights, a candle in the window, the afterlife, under the ocean, living by the sea, the air, daybreak, water mixed with sky, an unclad piano, and dreams.

In the studio are some very special and talented producers and mixing engineers: Runar Blesvik, Simon Teece, Miguel Mendoza and Bruno Sanfilippo. They have helped Juan to shape the sound he was looking for on this album.

I had the opportunity to share some words with Juan during what for me in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is an extended summer. "Here in Barcelona we are having the same weather, we call it 'October's Summer.' For me, this is the best season of the year." He provided some of his thoughts about making the album Touch & Sound as well as the gifts of life. 

"I consider the time I have to be one of the most important and precious of gifts you can possibly have, so I try to use it wisely. We can earn the money we spend but we cannot get back the time we have lost. So, this makes time more valuable than money. Also, we should use time for our good as well as for the good of others around us. This will help us and the society to progress towards a better tomorrow. Moreover, we should teach our children the importance and value of time."

The first track, "Sands of Time" (6:32), is a composition about the steady unstoppable advancement of time, featuring the timeless voice of soprano Morgane Matteuzzi. Juan uses very interesting keyboard phrasing, hurrying and then slowing to a pause. The vocalist and synthesizers blend, water flows, heights are reached, the sands of time are running out. The term “The Sands of Time” comes from the sand used in hourglasses, an ancient way of measuring time, scattered with unanswered questions, questions that imply – unthinkably to the young romantic – that love and goodness may be illusory.

More about Morgane Matteuzzi:

"Those Fridays" (4:56) is pure piano, weaving a story. Juan reflects, this is a "nostalgic piano piece about how happy I was as a kid when it was Friday. For me, Friday was the best day of the week as it meant the beginning of the weekend. I used to hate going to school, so I was always looking forward to Friday to arrive and to feel the freedom of not having to go to school for two days. Friday nights were also magical watching TV programs or listening to music until late, knowing that the next day I would not have to get up early."

The title of the next track is "Piga Al Cel" (7:07), and is my personal favorite in this collection of beautiful and emotional piano personal favorites. The song name is a Catalan language expression that in English means “freckle in the sky.” Juan shares, "This is how my sister as a child used to describe the moon, she said that the moon was a freckle in the sky. I always found this description of the moon so sweet and tender that I wanted to write a song about it."

As a listener, what I like is the special razor’s edge sound, both violinist Mirela Nita and the mechanical aspects of the piano blend into the construction; we can hear the felt hammers gently move against the strings, it is a natural force that cannot be resisted.
More about Mirela Nita:

Vocalist Nacre is floating above the piano notes on the track "For When It Rains" (5:12), haunting cycles with a message of hope for all the people who are struggling with depression and sadness, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It was Oscar Wilde who said "When it rains look for rainbows, when it is dark look for stars."

Nacre brings her vocal melodies without lyrics, which leave ample open space in the musical atmospheres she creates, stimulating the imagination and the instincts within the ear. She finds inspiration in Gregorian chants, French melodies and film soundtracks. Learn more about the vocalist, Nacre:

The duduk, sometimes called the tsiranapogh, is an ancient double reed woodwind instrument made of apricot wood, originating in Armenia. This unusual instrument is known for a rich and haunting sound. Duduk player Ilia Mazia with Juan evoke a night of the unknown with secrets, "A Nocturne" (5:08). All of the internal turmoil and uncertainty of being in love is captured in this music – a turmoil and uncertainty that prefers the darkness at its backdrop and only briefly recedes during daylight hours.

More about Dudukahar Ilia Mazia:

We all sometimes seek respite from the complicated world of noise and stimulation, perhaps longing for a simple and soothing moment away from the frantic world. "Lullaby For A Frantic World" (4:47) is Juan's contribution to make the world a happier and healthier place by composing a lullaby. "I just really wanted to create a simple but very soothing piano and strings piece that people can listen to and hopefully find a moment of peace in this frantic world." I hear a special violin, strings and piano, peacefully welcoming us into the realm of rest and tranquility.

The word Ataraxia refers to achieving mental peace and happiness by controlling positive and negative emotions, a state of mind that is characterized by tranquility and the total absence of desires or fears. The concept of ataraxia is to achieve mental peace and happiness impossible to alter by controlling positive and negative emotions. "Ataraxia" (4:16).

The composition “Human Rights” is dedicated to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a milestone document in the history of human rights. The sound is piano unified with strings, bringing spiritual strength and persistence. "Human Rights" (6:05), features cello player Yoed Nir. I hear empathy and compassion, reliable and comforting, simply beautiful, it can almost embody our love/hate relationship with humanity itself: our creativity, hubris and invention pitted against criminality, pollution, greed.

More about Yoed Nir:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly that enshrines the rights and freedoms of all human beings. It was accepted by the General Assembly as Resolution 217 during its third session on 10 December 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France.

In the distance after the sun has gone down there is the light of a lonely candle in the window so far away, "Into The Night" (5:10), piano with ethereal vocals by soprano Caroline Joy Clarke.

More about Caroline Joy Clarke:

What is that light? Some people say that you are not only your body but you are also your soul. After the death of your body, your soul lives on in a world beyond the physical world. "Where Are They Now?" (5:17) is dedicated to the great afterlife mystery. Cello player Daniel Frankhuizen joins Juan, wondering about the past, and friends from times gone by.

More about Daniel Frankhuizen:

"Le Grand Bleu" (4:23) with soprano vocalist Kirine, electronic strings, piano and the spirit of the water, inspired by the film "The Big Blue" by Luc Besson. The film is about the freediving world, filmed in the French Antibes, the Greek islands, Peru, and Taormina in Sicily. The film's undersea footage has a powerful otherworldly quality, much as if it were unfolding in outer space, as indeed it might be. It shows how vast the ocean really is. The unique underwater world is both beautiful and dangerous as well as very magical as well. It is as if the action and music were unfolding in outer space, asking the question, how vast is the ocean?

More about Kirine:

The term "Paralian" comes from ancient Greek origins, meaning "one who lives by the sea.” The outstanding "voice" of cello player Liz Hanks joins Juan, making their way along the rocky path on the cliffs high over the comforting and vast blue ocean. "There are a million and one things I take for granted in my life, and living within 10 minutes of the Mediterranean sea is definitely one of them. There’s nothing quite like being able to pop down to the beach in a heartbeat whenever you need it. Because of this, I think it’s one of the best places to go to feel closer to nature and connect with the planet, more so than anywhere else." This track is titled "Paralian" (4:15), where dreams come true, and love can be found at the top of the sky.

More about Liz Hanks:

The air takes on a sense which draws out the crucial themes and imagery, using piano and a choir of ethereal wonder, "Astral Voices" (3:08), creates a pinnacle of musical drama that realizes unknown aspirations and yearnings. The bright light would shine on the stillness of the early morning, "When Daybreak Comes" (6:42), piano and strings employ music instead of words telling the story to accentuate the unspoken passion. With another reference to water and its neutrality and the expected and natural flow, "Immersion" (4:04) comes cascading, a blend of piano and strings with a repeating haunted melody, you can feel the music swell and overcome you and play out into the distance, water and sky together forever.

With a nude piano, hesitant and shy, but not escaping, "Astral Voices (Solo Piano)" (3:12) is a fairy tale about experiencing the invisible worlds, perhaps a symbol of a truly natural and earthy source.

The mood starts unsteadily and eerily, the title track, "Touch & Sound" (4:21), when electronica gently touches the piano and reaches us in our dreams, crossing over from reality to create an amazing atmosphere anchored in the depths of the sound of desires and more importantly cravings, the melody becomes human enough to weep and despair, to talk and to aspire.

Touch & Sound is a piano-driven album with increased instrumentation like ethereal female voices, subtle synthesizer backgrounds and string arrangements, proving that sound can expand consciousness. With the syncing of these two diverse worlds comes the ultimate journey to transcend current time, space and reality, with the songs acting as mood shifters so any atmosphere can be created.

Touch & Sound achieves that connection with grace and serenity. This is a timeless album which brings an inspirational feeling of peaceful insight.

1) Sands of Time
2) Those Fridays
3) Piga Al Cel
4) For When It Rains
5) A Nocturne
6) Lullaby For A Frantic World
7) Ataraxia
8) Human Rights
9) Into The Night
10) Where Are They Now?
11) Le Grand Bleu
12) Paralian
13) Astral Voices
14) When Daybreak Comes
15) Immersion
16) Astral Voices (Solo Piano)
17) Touch & Sound


Submitted: October 29, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Robin James. All rights reserved.

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