Andrew Barreto – “Tension”

“Tension” the debut single by 19 year old Missouri based composer and pianist, Andrew Barreto, is casually described as a sad instrumental piece. But closer listening, reveals that it contains many more emotional elements that are linked to that sadness. Masked with this range of emotion, the track radiates tremendous quality and impression. If you’re expecting subtle melancholic, almost tearful pastel colors in the playing, be prepared, because Barreto is dynamic as he attacks the notes with fervor. Yes he exudes both delicacy and dynamism, but Andrew consciously stays away from mushy melodies and almost always employs elegant musical articulation, paying particular attention to dynamic diversity.

On “Tension”, Andrew Barreto keeps the dynamics from ever becoming exceedingly soft and morbid, which might veer into boring territory, instead he is not averse to strident, ringing notes that penetrate the consciousness, without however bringing about a feeling of abrasion.

Contributing to his dynamic boundaries, Barreto plays with the strengths, of both his left and right hand positions, which do account for adding a powerful range of sonic dimensions. Having both hands equally powerful, allows him to constantly dominate any directions taken, which only fuels his feel.

To say Andrew Barreto’s music is dynamically impacting is all too obvious and his ability to create an intricate and emotive musical narrative is a rare gift to be admired. His ability to write an effortlessly poignant and heart-rending piece of wholly immersive music with nothing more needed at his disposal than his trusty piano, is certainly impressive in an era of multi-layering and glossy ostentatious productions.

Encircling chords climax properly throughout the piece; all the while, listeners are swept away into the creation, their emotions rising and falling with each build and release. Moments like this showcase the composer’s skill and ability on this record; what’s more, this is only his first single, hence more moments like this are likely to follow.

The appeal of the song is universal; it is an instant where what is perceived to be simple at first, quickly becomes beautiful and wholly transcendent. The characteristic which defines Andrew Barreto’s music is simplicity; it will in all probability be largely responsible for any potential crossover popularity he gains.

“Tension” is never cluttered, rarely dissonant and always flowing, with a sparse melody which sings genially above a crystal clear ocean of swelling chords. And as the song rises to its climax one cannot help notice the writhing tension of the music being transferred into them.

It is simple yet entrancing; a brilliantly poignant example of how music can, not just affect mood, but take listeners by the throat and drag them into its own emotional reality.  And where other pianists use more notes to create character, Andrew Barreto has the invaluable knowledge of less being more, using the power of space and building repetition to bring life to his music – a testament to the brilliance of the composer.


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