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PRI: Echoes screens Rob Simonsen's solo debut, Reveries, and talks with the veteran film composer

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Sometimes, if you want to live the dream, you need to let the dream come to you. Just ask composer Rob Simonsen, who began playing the piano at a young age, picking out melodies he heard in his parents' record collection, before he began composing for himself. "I daydreamed a lot when I was young," he remembers. "I'd sit at the piano, and it was very much about escape: letting my mind wander, exploring."

Nonetheless, Simonsen's deep habit of daydreaming is at last gratifyingly indulged on his long-awaited solo debut RÊVERIES, announced today for a September 6th release date on Sony Music Masterworks. It's an elegant, affecting collection which puts the piano – though not just any piano – in the spotlight, furnishing it with blissful embellishments, both electronic and analogue. The announcement of the album comes along with the new video for the album track "Coeur", directed by Simonsen himself and premiered via Stationary Travels. "It's quite the return to my roots," Simonsen says, "sitting and improvising, having it be emotive and cathartic. I didn't sketch anything in advance, nor come at it from an intellectual perspective. It started by chasing a feeling while recording." The album is now available for preorder.  Watch the new video for "Coeur" here.

Simonsen recorded RÊVERIES with what he calls "this magical beast of a piano" in four 2-3-week sessions over the course of a year, letting his mind drift for up to an hour at a time, just as he had as a child, before using the most rewarding excursions as the foundations for more formal, complex pieces. As he composed for brass, for strings, for choir, he reveled simultaneously in Paris' picturesque winter or marveled at the studio's old school recording methodology, one Neff suggested had occasionally been "forgotten" amid the contemporary shift to digital recording. Nonetheless, Simonsen kept things simple: he stuck largely to traditional song forms and simple melodies, "but," he says, "rendered in a – hopefully – more unique, processed way. I wanted to keep it classic but forward-thinking." 

That said, RÊVERIES' title is indicative of something more profound: of allowing things to unfold in their own time, and of their own nature. Not that Simonsen lacks ambition: since the early 2000s, he's worked on an expansive list of film soundtracks, among them Foxcatcher, Nerve, The Way, Way Back and most recently Jason Reitman's The Front Runner and Rupert Wyatt's Captive State. There have been collaborations, too, notably with Mychael Danna – including 500 Days Of Summer – and contributions to Life Of Pi and Moneyball, as well as, earlier, outings under the name Frozen Light, encouraged by Keith Kenniff (Helios, Goldmund). But Simonsen's been biding his time since an early age, quietly nursing the artistic flights of fancy in which he'd step out from behind the screen. When the stars finally aligned, he knew, these would seem rather less fanciful.