Kimberly Hou creates a peaceful and reflecting EP with her debut instrumental piano record, Opus One, offering tight and tailored moments of reflection.
San Francisco-based classical musician Kimberly Hou really is a master of portraying emotion through her music. Although new EP Opus One has a short run-time, it manages to build in-depth layers of emotion throughout, with its concise but flowing structures twisting and turning to their conclusions. In these anxious times, the EP offers the listener a chance reminisce in the beauty and experience of life, giving us hope for when things start to get back to normal.
Field of Memories opens the EP in beautiful fashion with Hou showing off her peaceful and mesmerising style on the keys. Starting off slow and gentle, it gradually builds without losing its calm and settles down into a more vacant structure before once again finding the energy to push it to its conclusion. It does all this in just 1 minute and 50 seconds, making for a short but memorable opener. It feels pretty apt for this moment in time, as it flits from idea to idea quickly, just like the changes in mindset that many people are experiencing during the current pandemic.
Reflections gives Hou a little more time to play with being double the length of the opener, and she uses this time wisely, able to create even more emotional reflection amidst the turmoil. The turmoil is created through more the more energetic and brash piano sections against sweeter and more dexterous ebbs and flows, never missing an opportunity when it arises to add little flourishes of ingenuity. With the artist using this EP to offer different perspectives of different chapters in life, this piece feels like a coming of age moment when someone discovers that they have their whole life ahead of them.
The EP appears to add more and more layers and dexterity as the EP continues, with track Dancing In Time, although feeling more solemn, managing to deliver more emotion. Sounding like something from a Studio Ghibli soundtrack, you could also imagine lovers dancing to this and discovering pure passion for the first time – perhaps the next stage and chapter of life. The EP ends with the thought-provoking For My Love, feeling more wholesome and warm than previous tracks as though the full variety of life has finally been tasted at its conclusion. It saunters along knowingly, feeling more grown-up and classically structured than previous pieces and the perfect ending to pull everything together.
Kimberly Hou has created a wonderfully structured and stimulating EP in Opus One. If you think the short runtime would affect the sound, you’d be mistaken; Hou manages to portray everything she needs to within each track and forgoes any filler that would make the tracks less appealing. It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to hear relatively short classical pieces that get straight to the point and don’t need to veer off into momentous, outdrawn instances. Kimberly Hou’s skill is apparent throughout, not only with the piano but also creating subtle dreamscapes that revel in imagery and draw their own conclusions in what Hou is trying to say. A strong EP that leaves you wanting more.