Argentinian cellist, composer and producer Sebastian Plano will release new album ‘Save Me Not’ via Mercury KX on 2nd July. If his third (2019’s Grammy nominated ‘Verve’) was exceptional – a filigree of gently stroked strings, rippling piano lines and eloquent electronica, his fourth shifts things to a whole new level. Recorded at nights in his Berlin studio, it finds him going to unprecedented, even greater extremes to satisfy his urge to express himself through the creation of ensemble music alone. Today, Plano unveils ‘Save Me Not’s’ first single ‘A Present For A Young Traveller.’ Shot in an old barn just outside Berlin in the freezing winter just passed, he had this to say in the track and its beautiful accompanying visual:
“I had let my cello lead my way ever since I left Rosario, my hometown, at age 17. Years later following musical journeys in Italy, Boston, San Francisco and Berlin, I came to meet someone who would shape a new pathway for me for years to come. He opened up a drawer, picked something up, placed it into my hands and said; ‘here, a present for a young traveller, the video was shot just outside of Berlin. The video recreates theensemble playing approach, I still feel cold watching it back” ~ Sebastian Plano
Born in Rosario, Argentina, in 1985, Plano was raised by parents who perform in the city’s symphony orchestra, and having first played cello at the age of seven, he began writing his own music four years later. After turning 13, he spent two years taking eight-hour round trips to Buenos Aires for hour-long lessons with the country’s finest teacher, yet, despite subsequent, full scholarships from some of the world’s most prestigious institutes, he found himself increasingly dissatisfied. Focus more on his own music, he noticed the further he strayed from the scholarly doctrines instilled in him, the more euphoric he felt. “As we grow up,” he says, “we spend our lives having to blend in, so, as our personalities develop, it’s inevitable we start cultivating our own reality. But for me this grew until it made me realise I didn’t belong in the world of interpretations, playing Beethoven’s – or anyone else’s – music. Many of us nurture our own space,” he continues, “where we can be the essence of ourselves, and creative people arguably take this further, constructing a reality where their imagination can flow, free of awareness. In my case, writing music has, over time, turned into a need: it would be impossible for me to cope with life without being able to express myself through sounds.”
One of Plano’s many strengths is that it’s unusually hard to categorise. “I was grateful and flattered,” Plano admits when addressing his Grammy Nomination, before adding, “but I definitely don’t make New Age music!” Bending – and often rejecting – in seductively enigmatic style the principles with which the classically trained musician was raised, ‘Save Me Not’ pursues Plano’s pioneering, ethereal aesthetic with even more confidence, operating in a dream-world all its own, answerable only to his instincts. The results are elegant, vivid and sometimes even spiritual, with the Argentinian playing every note, layering each musical phrase one at a time. “This wasn’t a matter of control,” he clarifies, “but of being able to express what I want to the fullest extent. The whole album is just me: it’s about narrowing down the instruments to the minimum, and how much I can push myself to create an authentic, unique sonic world. I wanted,” he says, “to see how far I could go.” In practice, this means arrangements have been distilled to just cello, piano and voice. Although sometimes processed electronically there are no electronic instruments involved, only using his voice when the cello and piano cannot go further expressively. Nonetheless, other inventive details are occasionally present, each a part of the act of making music: the striking of his cello’s body, his feet stamping the floor, even the squeak of his studio chair.
‘Save Me Not’ is not only a fearless, unapologetic tribute to a realm in which Plano feels most uninhibited. It’s also an open invitation to enter it, and an exhortation to create one’s own. “Now I can do it all alone. I’m the string quartet, I’m the orchestra, I conduct the piece. I don’t like to depend on anyone, and ‘Save Me Not’ best defines who I am: as a musician, as a creative spirit, and as a person. I just want to be free. As free as possible…”