"Stripped" is a collection of solo piano versions of twelve of Robert Peckyno’s previously recorded electronic pieces plus three new ones. "Stripped" is Peckyno’s eighth CD, and he refers to the music as “interplanetary solo piano soundstories and dreams.” He also says, “This album is a soundtrack for your imagination and dreams; providing the expected backdrop of pensive tranquility and spiritual longing but perhaps also genuine excitement, conflict, silly humor, and torrid passion. If you let it, this CD will tell you a story of relentless hope, romantic dreams, and real triumph.” As an aside, I should mention that Peckyno hasn’t gone totally acoustic - his piano is of the electronic variety, but suits the music well. Peckyno plans to perform impromptu concerts in “unlikely places” with his solar-powered keyboard throughout 2011, so keep a lookout for him - especially near central Oregon!
All of the music on "Stripped" was recorded in one take with no overdubs, MIDI, or quantization - quite the opposite of Peckyno’s approach to his electronic albums, which are recorded in layers. The three new pieces are the result of improvisations in the studio, as are several intros to the older material. The styles of the pieces vary from light and playful to bold and cinematic. More prog rock than new age, there are obvious classical, pop, and jazz influences as well. This is not music that will put you to sleep even if it is about dreams, but it inspires visual images and flights of fantasy.
All of the tracks are interesting and enjoyable, but I do have a few favorites. “Crystal Shards” opens the set with a piece that is bright and colorful with a bit of an edge. “I Can See” is more soft-spoken and subdued with moments of dramatic power. “Dusk” is one of the new pieces, and it conveys the grace and softened edges of the end of a day. This one IS dreamy! “Nonviable Economics” begins with a mysterious improvisation that seems to be searching for something. These feelings continue into the main part of the piece, but with more energy and rhythm - a really interesting piece! The dark and mysterious “Seven Strangers” ranges from a delicate melancholy to more powerful and dramatic. The piano on this piece has a metallic sound akin to a harpsichord, hinting of the Baroque era. I really like “Subkarma” and its dramatic sense of urgency. “The Border of Dreamland” is the second of the new pieces. Played in the upper octaves of the piano, it has a light, gentle lullaby feeling the first half of the piece and then intensifies a bit as it moves down the keyboard. We never drift into nightmare territory, but all is not fluffy white clouds and rainbows. From there, we go to final piece of the album and the third of the new tracks, “Sultry Slumber.” Some of the harmonies have a mild Middle Eastern flavor set to a dark and steady rhythm - soothing but not quite blissful. I like it!
"Stripped" is definitely not your usual “new age” fare, but it is provocative and original - I really enjoy it! I look forward to hearing more from Robert Peckyno and hope to bump into him at one or more of his impromptu concerts!