‘The Artist’ is six minutes fifty-two seconds of jazzy, (initially) lounge-bar piano-led (mostly-) instrumental composition, part musical movement, part art piece, rotating its way through guitars, samples, and orchestral instrumentation and percussion, always with the same repeating melody-line. It’s freeform, experimental, and hugely ambitious, with multiple layered tracks compounding that repetitive ostinato phrase; apparently three years in the making and a month to mix, with ambient background-chatter samples, reverb-soaked drums, strings, and that constant piano, programmed TR-808 patterns and electronic instrumentation, and even the smash of a glass. There’s twists and turns, rests and pauses, pitch-shifts and tempo and timbre-changes, classical finger-picked guitar mixing with engineered notes and sampled speech, but always a return to the familiar, beautiful piano refrain. It’s an absolute work of art, delicate, potent, and powerful, and a definite labour of love. A stunning, sublime achievement.
Review by Alex Holmes