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Jason Zumpano – If You Press It Will Break

Released – 2023

Jason Zumpano – piano, synthesizer, percussion

Quixotic plinks and rolling melodies played by Jason Zumpano on an upright saloon-style piano power 27 tracks that revolve around and around life’s merry-go-round of dizzying ups and downs. The élan vital within these tunes is spiked with just the right amount of anxiety to help one see how whimsy and paranoia can be described as conjoined Siamese twins. Beneath the one-person cavalcade of out and in kilter music from the Karn is the question of how much Nostalgia, Manic Obsessions and Playfulness all frequent the same bar. Recently mastered by Josh Stevenson, each of these 27 tunes evokes its own slide-show of alt-vaudevillian associations while also drawing from unique corners of an interdisciplinary history. Some of the songs were written for the final weeks of Pat Carrabre’s The Signal on CBC in the spring of 2009. Others were recorded and sent as an art trade with multidisciplinary visual artist Jason McLean in 2014, but the songs were never released. McLean drew the titles onto a plastic pear in a piece entitled Jason to Jason. A few other tracks, made in 2011, were based on a collaboration with Vancouver-based Loscil in a project which was ultimately shelved. Undergirding these lesser-known corners of underground art is the fact that Zumpano’s piano was the same one Rodney Graham had used in his short film A Reverie Interrupted By the Police. An intertextual reading of these tracks might posit they were dreamt by the prisoner played by Rodney Graham. Decked out in prison stripes, Graham played fragmented tunes while handcuffed in A Reverie… and perhaps Zumpano actualized the full flights of freedom to play with chords of dread on one hand and whimsical ditties on the liberated other while thinking again and again: what does one do with freedom?

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