Kriva - Only Constant EP
Record Label - Self Released
Release Date - 27th February 2012
There is something very beautiful about simplicity in music, a simplistic album sounds uncluttered, organic and tranquil. If done well it can produce a sense of serenity and peace from the listener. This is the aim of Only Constant an EP from modern classical musician Bob Kriva.
The opening track of the six song EP, “How We Need a Breath of Honest Air!” sets the tone for what is to follow. Beautiful and sparse piano chords dominate the track while swirling strings form a serene backdrop. The minimal and subdued nature of this song imbue it was a sense of stark beauty and is a clear example that sometimes less can be more. Kriva is also not afraid to experiment and merges subtle electronic sounds, such as in third track “Wood Between The Worlds”, in a manner similar to Olafur Arnalds’ incredible Eulogy for Evolution. He occasionally abandons the minimal approach as shown in the lavish and bombastic final track, “Street Floods and Hailstorms”. It is a glorious and joyous finale and is undisputedly the best track on the EP. Moments like this show real promise and reason for optimism for any future releases.
Kriva clearly wears his influences on his sleeve and even a cursory listen to this EP will instantly remind the listener of the likes of the aforementioned Olafur Arnalds as well as other neo-classical luminaries such as Max Richter, Johann Johannsson, Peter Broderick, Kashiwa Daisuke and Nils Frahm. This in itself is not a problem as it makes the EP immediately accessible and recognisable to fans of neo-classical. Within the genre Only Constant is not doing anything new, but what it is doing, it is doing well.
However, the problem lies that when an artist is so clearly indebted to a group of artists is that it inevitably leads to direct comparisons between said artists. While Kriva is a talented musician, he simply is not as skilled as the likes of Olafur Arnalds. While technical excellence is not necessarily needed for many genres of music, it is a pre-requisite in the modern classical realm as it a genre stripped of vocals and lyrics. Therefore, the potential replay value of this EP can be questioned.
Ultimately, while this EP is not without its flaws, it is absolutely worth listening to, particularly as it can be download for free on Bandcamp. While there is nothing on here that will make you re-evaluate modern classical music, it is certainly an enjoyable and rewarding listen for anybody with even a passing interest in the genre.