Could Pianodrome be the friendliest venue in town? Situated in a functional market building on an unassuming side street heading towards Leith, it's certainly off the beaten track. The name of this unique den of music derives from the central, in-the-round performance area dominated by a tall 100-seater constructed out of upcycled pianos. It's a real beauty too, enhanced by an entrancing, multi-surface light installation (by Dutch-born artist Mettje Hunneman) that figures in the gigs happening here.
The house band is S!nk, a small ensemble led by Pianodrome founder Tim Vincent Smith – also a violinist, vocalist and songwriter. He's aided and abetted by fellow musos Matthew Wright (a horn man), Daniel Dumnov (on keys), percussionist Tim Lane and Dave Tunstall (bass). Freely guided by Nikki Hill, these guys—some of them barefoot or in socks—move around as they play, but how could you not? The handsome, cosy venue is conducive to their kind of relaxed banter and easygoing, embodied playfulness.
Musically, S!nk is likewise unpretentiosuly adventurous. Whether jazzy, funky or free-floatingly experimental, none of the 10 or so selections they play for the first hour or so of any given evening outstays its welcome. Many are slow-build, layered compositions that reach a level of intensity—predicated on the meshed, sometimes cyclical rhythms of their instrumentation—before subsiding. A highlight is 'Velo', dedicated to Smith's partner and commemorating a bicycle trip in the Pyrenees. Smith actually riding one round the room is an integral part of its atmospheric soundscape. There's also 'Theo', a lilting tribute to his son with a sweetly yearning, lullaby feel. Like Pianodrome itself, S!nk's music makes me happy. Note that each bill is shared with different guest artists.