Pacman for Piano Solo (Album) by Guy Van Nueten.

"Light the fire, James. We’ll take our digestive by the crackling of the hearth." Such were the thoughts that came to mind as I started listening to Guy Van Nueten’s new record. Because, yes, there is a certain aristocracy to this music. There’s the feeling of autumn and you  immediately long to warm yourself on the sounds that issue from Van Nueten's bony fingers. But it could just as well be a car ride through soft rain at nightfall, where trees become freakish phantoms, and here and there a villa looms like a light beacon. Pacman is a record that makes you hunt for images, films you have seen before, feelings you have known and wish to relive, like a somewhat forbidden fruit, a secret pleasure. Melancholy? Absolutely. A vague sadness to make a person purr like a contented cat? Certainly.


Yet at the same time, Van Nueten is cunning. While ensuring that his music pleases you, at the end of some compositions he’ll suddenly come up with a theme that he’ll stop abruptly, so that the notes remain hanging like snapshots of aerial acrobats in action. It is also investigative music as if Guy himself does not wish to know just where he will finish up. There is a stubbornness to it, an elegant fight perhaps between composer and pianist. It pursues you – exactly like a Pacman, in fact, chomping away at digital pieces of your heart. Yet it never seems to dissolve into thin air: time and again, right from the first listen, he makes you long to hear more. It is music that should protect a person like a secret, like an illegal fire in a forest that warms your hands and fills your head with dreams. It smells like cedar, this piano music. Or like a nice cigar offered to you by the imaginary James, who whispers: "The fire is crackling, sir. Just as you like it." At which point the enchantment begins all over again.


Jeroen Olyslaegers