Piano for Both Ears
There's something about the way he runs chord progressions, the way his melodies seem deliberately designed to meander without settling, the way his dramatic passages sound as if they're being carefully wound up and discharged according to a long-determined plan. There's something vaguely clinical about his approach to his idiom that prevents all of his talent and effort from making a truly evocative or stirring statement. Goddammit, there's something new agey about it.
For the most part, Alstead avoids dissonance and experiment as if much of 20th century classical music had never happened. "Classicalis", for example, is at heart an overextended sonatina that harkens vaguely back to chord progressions and resolutions that were popular several hundred years ago. There are echoes of Debussy in "One Journey", but they are purely technical similarities; no one is going to be carried away by this piece's gentle rise and fall the way people are by "Clair De Lune".
All of the elements are here; Alstead has his chops down. There's just something fundamental and indescribable missing from his music. Then again, this is Alstead's debut. With the experience and technique he has developed up to this point, all he needs is some real fire in his belly to produce a truly memorable album. I, for one, believe he has it in him.
-- Brett McCallon