John Farah @ Gallery 345 by Stanley Fefferman

Saturday, September 25, 2010, Gallery 345, Toronto

John Farah’s compositions start out sounding like one man at a piano riffing a mix of classical arpeggio’s, jazz chords, minimalist iterations and middle-eastern ‘samai’s’. When the electro-acoustics kick in, he’s a one-man band with marimba, drum-kit, bass, flutes and piano synthed into a galactic symphony.

Farah presented eight new pieces, all about 10 minutes duration, that he composed around the time of his current one month Mackenzie Post-Digital Residency in Toronto sponsored by rj fleck. Apart from his undeniable virtuosity at the piano keyboard, and his wizardry with digital keyboards, what strikes about Farah’s music are the sense of drama at the heart of it, and the expansiveness of his vision.

I particularly liked An Etching whose asymmetrical chord structures develop an energy pulse like Ellington’s Caravan morphing into Ravel’s Bolero. He created a lot of excitement with Samai Point. Based on Arabic/Turkish classical music, Farah improvises a spare singing melody–electro-backed by an aggressively beating bassline–that arpeggiates into a Rachmaninoff chordal storm blowing through a bazaar full of jingling belly-dancers, and from there deconstructs into celestial waves of some solo fluty angelic voice.

Somewhere in his writings, Farah describes his music as Intelligent Dance Music. I resonate with that. The ‘Intelligence’ he reveals in his compostions may be improvising beyond the Oort Cloud or in the mimi-storm of dust raised off a mummy by a digger’s brush. In any case, Farah’s is the music of an imaginative mind. I enjoy it, and I am happy to say, with the poet Robert Frost, when he found a mite walking across a page he was writing,”No one can know how glad I am to find/On any sheet the least display of Mind.”

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