What is always so great about Little Meister’s piano pieces is how much they say with so few notes and the moods and scenes they paint with such a minimal sonic palette. Use a word such as ambience to capture such music; it is very apt, and you might give the impression that such creations are just light and airy pieces with no real depth. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Fountain of Untold Secrets is the perfect example of how much depth there is to be found within such seemingly delicate songs. Almost immediately, the choice of notes and key combine to offer up something arabesque in mood, a feeling of wide open spaces, of the smell of spices carried on desert winds, the soundtrack to a place where Orient meets Occident, where eastern intrigue washes up on western shores. And so, whether the titular Fountain of Untold Secrets is a literal place or just a dream or metaphor, the music suggests that it is something found far from this European home.
As always, it is just as much what is not played as what you hear; the moods and atmospheres that are found pooling and percolating between the notes themselves create the overall effect. These guide us to our intended destination rather than being the destination itself.
There is an interesting departure found on this track, something that deviates from the usual piano-only creative line. Just audible in the spaces between the notes are hints and hues created by the use of synthesiser adding an additional layer that fits so well it is only really there if you know to listen out for it but which adds some wonderful additional textures. It is used sparingly, enough to add depth but not so much that the Steinway has to share the spotlight – the perfect supporting role.
It’s a gorgeous piece of music, of course. I wouldn’t have expected anything else. But it is also a piece that lays bare just how music works. It also reminds us that it is not through bombast and complexity that the listener is guided to the place that the artist intended them to go, not through sonic shock and impact, but through the deft use of precisely the right few sounds and spaces that not only creates the illusion but makes them seem real. Very real indeed.