Believe it or not, I played piano back in the day. I’m extremely rusty, but I still greatly appreciate this medium of melody and beauty. Take a look at my top ten list of favorites from 2018.
10. Jerzy Georgius Antczak – Albion
Yes, Jerzy also played the keys on the latest Albion album. His keys are performed with grace and sobriety, and the sheer bleakness and darkness that he produces are simply breath-taking.
9. Thomas Andersen – Gazpacho
Gazpacho’s latest was all about glory and elevated senses, and I think Thomas really captured this. His keys absolutely soaked the album with soaring sensibilities, as if you really could fly.
8. Luke Pajak – Reformat
Luke and Russ offer something not found in much of prog: playfulness. Their energy is undeniable as they produced synth and keyboard melodies that are direct, clear, and beautiful. The entire album is very catchy.
7. Dean Baker – Galahad
Galahad’s latest is all over the map genre-wise, and I especially love Dean’s keen synth portions that border on disco at points. His input is a bright spark whenever he starts running away with another solo.
6. Virginia Peraza – Anima Mundi
Virginia is one of my favorite keyboardists, and she shifted gears a bit this year. She moved away from her quirky style into more of an atmospheric approach, and she did an amazing job. Her synth broke on the shores of Anima Mundi’s latest with power and light.
5. Brendan Eyre – Riversea
Brendan is always brilliant, but his gorgeous piano and keys on Riversea’s long awaited sophomore album were just a step above what he’s done in the past. His style is glorious and synthetic, and his solos are revelatory.
4. Sam Read and Steve McNamara
– Stupid Cosmonaut
Earlier this year, I was blown away by the new album from Stupid Cosmonaut. Sam and Steve were the primary musicians on this album, and the electronic thrust that they chose was done so very well. From the more movement-based tracks that reminded me of Vangelis to the catchy melodies on more basic songs, the pair have a fantastic grasp on structuring music brilliantly.
3. Costa Damoulianos – Zoungla
Zoungla released two albums in 2018, and both of them displayed Costa’s intense creativity. Specifically, “There Will Be Dub” showed me his mastery of keys and programming, and the album skyrocketed up the ladder of my favorite albums this year. His style is as exciting as it is methodical and calculated.
2. Gleb Kolyadin
Gleb is arguably the best pianist in prog today. His self-titled solo album was quite different from his Iamthemorning output, and that really impressed me. His fomenting, highly technical keys painted a beautiful soundscape that was as nostalgically beautiful as it was unconventional.
1. Vikram Shankar
– Lux Terminus/Threads of Fate
Vikram is my clear favorite for keys in 2018. His range is insane, shown especially on his releases with the jazz fusion-based Lux Terminus and the symphonic theatricality of Threads of Fate. So, whether it’s the jazzy, climactic compositions on the former, or the delicate and epic beauty of the latter, Vikram always delivers with brilliant musicianship and gorgeous songwriting.