The latest offering from Perth jazz auteur Michael Pignéguy feels like a trip across the world from your own bedroom. A double album comprised of two different sides, Duality – Introspections & Collaborations is a fitting title for the record. The first side, Introspections, espouses a more self-seeking creative streak from its author, while the second side, Collaborations, sees Pignéguy sharing creative duties with a diverse blend of world-class musicians.
Written in 2019 and recorded last year, the album was originally intended to be recorded as a live show, however like a lot of plans over the past two years, COVID had a way of redefining how it all went down. With everyone in lockdown, that idea was shelved, leaving the only option of working with different artists remotely, opening up the album to musicians from around the world.
Introspections is the instrumental component of the album which Pignéguy wrote almost exclusively alone. Many of the treats on the opening stanza are the flourishing insertion of various instruments that add character and diversity to the playlist. From the boppy basslines and synth wizardry of the rousing opener Footprints, to the rich percussion and stirring keyboard melodies of Departure Lounge, the (almost entirely) musical first side is rich with surprises.
On the second side of the album, Collaborations, Pignéguy expands his horizons to include encompass guest vocalists from across the world. Collaborations kicks off with rocking bop of Love your Lies with uplifting gospel vocals. The funky Like a Fool is groovy while the speed of the synth draws the ensemble into a ludicrously fast climax.
Guest vocalists on the second side include Samantha de Lune and Evelyn Feroza (Malaysia), and Alemay Fernandez (Singapore). When these singers hit their heights the album is undeniably at its most danceable. Perth singer Sophie Foster just about steals the show on the home stretch with her soaring melodies a highlight on Forgotten Memories and Make Me Feel.
There is a great deal happening musically right through both sides of this album. Its richness comes from its diverse cast of contributors, especially when paired together in unexpected ways. While each of the vocalists sound right at home on the songs, it can make Collaborations feel more like a mixtape than an album at times, given their voices are coming from a different place either geographically or emotionally.
Overall Duality – Introspections & Collaborations is an accomplished work not just for the musicianship on display, but for its ability to make connections between styles, cultures and individuals, showing how its sum is somehow still greater than the many parts it is made up of.