In recent years, Portland’s Ryan Francesconi (previously best known for his work as the musical director on Joanna Newsom’s stunning triple album ‘Have One On Me’) has established himself as a leading figure in acoustic composition and performance. Now, he prepares to return to European stages to perform with his partner, violinist Mirabai Peart, in the wake of a new album, ‘Road To Palios’, released on Bella Union in December.
The album finds Ryan developing his collaborative work with Mirabai (whom Ryan met through their membership of the Joanna Newsom band). A set of spellbinding duets for guitar and violin, ‘Road To Palios’ evidences a world of musical inspiration flowing through its minimal instrumental palette, spanning Baroque, Americana and jazz improvisation but centring on the pair’s main obsession: Balkan folk music, mainly from Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey. On stage these ornate and detailed compositions possess a rare transportative power: an atlas of vividly evoked musical places performed with heart and soul by two extraordinary musicians.
‘Parables’, Ryan’s first record under his own name (having been producing solo electronic music as RF since 1999), served dazzling notice of his ability to conjure pieces that ring with personal truth while absorbing myriad influences and techniques. He toured Europe in 2011, spellbinding hushed rooms across the continent and picking up press acclaim along the way.