Underwater (Video Edition)

Ludovico Einaudi

Underwater (Video Edition)

Underwater marks Ludovico Einaudi’s first original solo project in almost two decades. But it wasn’t exactly planned, the album instead emerging gradually during the lockdowns of 2020. “I just wanted to play the piano every day and try out new ideas on it,” Einaudi tells Apple Music. Those ideas, he says, came to him nearly spontaneously, “almost as if I wasn’t doing it myself.” During his months of improvising, Einaudi noticed that every four or five days, he would come up with a melody or a hook that he enjoyed—a seed of a track that just might make the final cut. All the while, he was toying with the idea that we were all experiencing life in another dimension during lockdown. “When you are underwater, when you are swimming underwater, there is a silence that is different,” he says. “The way you hear the sounds, it’s all different. And you perceive everything in a different state.”
Underwater is full of calm, from the innocence of the opening track, “Luminous,” to the simple, song-like “Temple White” and the mellow, reassuring lilt of “Indian Yellow.” “The music came from a different, quieter world which I enjoyed very much,” says Einaudi. “Usually, you never have the time to really let your brain, let your body, let your life breathe in a proper way. During lockdowns, there was a lot of time to experiment and to try things without rushing.” Much of Underwater’s otherworldly atmosphere stems from the muffled effect he has achieved on his Steinway piano, lining each of the concert grand’s hammers with an extra layer of felt so that the strings could emit a softer, ringing tone. And in contrast to the six hours of his epic series of albums, 2019’s Seven Days Walking, Einaudi’s intention here was to create a shorter, more succinct experience. “At the beginning, I could not see the possibility of staying with 12 tracks, because there were 30 pieces that I wanted to include,” he admits. “But I wanted to keep everything to under an hour—it’s like when you are writing a book and you don’t want to make it longer than 250 pages.” Here, Einaudi guides us through Underwater, one track at a time.
“Luminous” “This piece is very lyrical to me—it feels very much like a song. And what I like about it is that it shares some of the moods of songs from the ’60s. There’s a balance in it between major and minor keys that gives it a melancholic feel, something that is always part of my DNA. It’s similar in mood to another piece on the album, ‘Natural Light.’ In fact, this one, ‘Natural Light,’ and ‘Indian Yellow’ all share the idea of light, which is connected with my passion for analog photography.”
“Rolling Like a Ball” “This would be a very beautiful piece to play on guitar. It has all the qualities of a ballad. I ended up with several versions of this piece and I didn’t know how to include them all. But then, I decided to take just two versions and put them together—the first part from one day, and a softer, more lyrical coda that I came up with on another day entirely. The title is very simple: The music came to me, rolling like a ball.”
“Indian Yellow” “‘Indian Yellow’ is a variation on the harmonies of ‘Natural Light.’ But, of course, it has a different character. It tells the same story but in a different way.”
“Flora” “‘Flora’ has a chorale beginning—a Bach-like introduction that’s a homage to my years of studying his music. But at the same time, I didn’t think too much about that: The music came quite naturally to me. After the introduction, I added a second part that features a repeated chord progression that gets gradually louder and faster.”
“Natural Light” “The end of the ‘light’ trilogy of tracks. It’s in song form and is one of the pieces on the album that I love the most, so I spent a lot of time on it. I tried to include all the different versions that I recorded throughout the process—every time I worked on it, I came up with something different! And so, I did a lot of listening and re-listening to see if there was something missing from the final version.”
“Almost June” “This is a very simple piece—I really love the beauty of its simplicity. It’s almost like a song that you can sing to a child, like a nursery rhyme.”
“Swordfish” “This piece is influenced by my love of the French impressionist composer Claude Debussy, and it has some of the same pianistic styles. The beginning part is almost like music from an ancient legend. The second half is like Debussy—I think it’s quite like the first piece, ‘Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum,’ from his suite Children’s Corner.”
“Wind Song” “‘Wind Song’ is like a waltz, with a very melancholic character. But it has that sort of winter feel you have when the days are really windy and the wind takes away all the bad things of the past, cleaning the air for the future.”
“Atoms” “This is very atmospheric. It almost doesn’t have a melody, as it’s very much based on the harmonies. But at the same time, in those harmonies, there are some hidden little melodies that come out. I like it because although it could be seen as an abstract piece, at the same time there’s a sort of fire inside that keeps your attention, that keeps the piece awake. And so, it never actually becomes an abstract, cold piece.”
“Temple White” “One of the last pieces I composed for the album. It’s a simple song in the same style as another of my pieces, ‘Nuvole Bianche’ [from 2004 album Una Mattina], and it’s also in the same key of F minor. ‘Temple White’ is one of the tracks that just came to me during my months of playing and recording. I discovered this melodic line that I then enjoyed developing into the track you hear on the album.”
“Nobody Knows” “This has an aura of the late ’60s about it. Recently, I really enjoyed watching the documentary The Beatles: Get Back—it’s beautiful and extraordinary, and I really feel a connection with their music. I think, like Bach did in his time, The Beatles distilled the different colors and styles of music of their time into one moment. And so, as I reflect a lot on the music of Bach, I also reflect around the music of The Beatles.”
“Underwater” “This track is like a chorale or a hymn. I decided that this would be the album’s title track because it was the first one that stood out and made me realize that I had found a color for the album, a tone around which I wanted to work. ‘Underwater’ is like the experience of slowing down the world, of breathing in a different way. All of us have experienced this during the pandemic.”

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