Arguably the most low-key of this reissue campaign but easily our current favourite, Piano Viberations is a gorgeous Francis Coppieters showcase, surely one of Belgium’s best-kept musical secrets.
“The Open Highway” is a vibrant, confident opener, immediately demonstrating Coppieters’ dextrous interplay between piano and vibes in assured, joyous fashion. The evocative, shuffling bossa of “Sales Notes” is a real jaw-dropper; an elegant piece with imperceptible shifts in mood, richly mellifluous and understandably well-mined by samplers with impeccable taste. The mellow head-nod drum-break that propels the languid, dreamy “Funky Chimes” brilliantly demonstrates Coppieters’ quiet majesty. A slow-motion funk rhythm, adorned with beautifully reflective notes throughout, it’s one of the album’s most rightly adored tracks.
The groovy “Cross Talk” bursts into being at the climax of Side A. Upbeat and joyful, vibes and piano are at the heart of Coppieters’ percussive arrangement here. The quick cut movement of “Piano In Transit” reveals another explosive gem, driven principally by piano but with vibes along for more than just the ride. A sumptuously swinging track progresses swiftly around upright bass and layers of expertly performed percussion. On a gentler, elegiac note, “To Shearing With Love” is a warm, slow, romantic piece in the style of George Shearing and is as plaintive as it is sublime.
Originally produced exclusively for use by film and TV studios and never commercially released, library records have long been a goldmine for the collector and sampler alike. The music was created to evoke moods, situations and emotional responses and, at it’s best, it was truly extraordinary. Creative and futuristic, it is now regarded as some of most inventive music of its time.
Crafted by the some of the greatest musical minds of the late 20th century, these expert musicians and innovative composers revelled in the freedoms offered, paradoxically, by this most corporate of fields, indulging themselves in ways they couldn’t on records made for general release. The calibre of the musicians certainly raised the bar, too. Robin Phillips, who ran KPM in its heyday, wanted only the best. “You couldn’t do an album of the quality Robin demanded without the A-team,” as Brian Bennett recently recalled.