Nestled at the end of a recent installment of Deerhunter’s weekly, and highly recommended, “Sunday Night Radio Hour” Spotify mix, was Bola Sete’s “Falling Stars.” Previously unknown to us, the expectations were for a pleasant strum of acoustic guitar. We love Sete’s guitar playing here, whether it be the jazzy bossa nova sway that he mastered with a classical touch, or the immaculate, serene sounds of openness and atmosphere found on his John Fahey-produced masterpiece, Ocean.
“Falling Stars” brought neither. Rather, it was an abrupt plunge into deeply resounding and cascading piano chords. Bola Sete played piano? On record at least, perhaps just this once. Search “bola sete piano” and the first two results are him accompanying pianist Vince Guaraldi on guitar. Nevertheless, the initial shock of the song transformed into a more profound and lasting revelation: the eccentric mastery of his playing. Dark, Hitchcockian ramblings run across the keys, a moody gothic tone running at a manic modal pace. One doesn’t need to suspend their disbelief that much to imagine Sete, having never played before, sitting down at the piano, and channeling pure expression through an unknown virtuosity. The mystery is far too beautiful to unravel. words/c depasquale