The Blue Hour is Federico Albanese's second album and it focuses on the concept of time and transition. The Italian composer who is now based in Berlin explains how he sees the shift between night and day as "a world between, where all things are uncertain, vague, floating into shade."

Those familiar with the work of Nils Frahm and Michael Price, who weave elements of classical with pop and alternative music will appreciate the songs on The Blue Hour. Similar to his critically acclaimed debut The Houseboat And The Moon, he places the piano at the core of his music, where much of the record follows a sombre mood in which he places sparse, meditative piano arrangements over whispery electronic effects, exploring the theme of transition.

Andrew Darley spoke to Albanese about the reflective world he has created on his new record.

After writing The Houseboat And The Moon, were there specific ideas you wanted to explore on this album?

The Houseboat and the Moon is a collection of pieces I wrote between 2012 and 2014. Back then I didn't have a label or anything, so I was basically writing music for myself. At a certain point, there was the chance to release something, so it was pretty much about selecting the songs and put them together in a record; embrace them under the same roof. With this album, I was thinking of a concept that could connect them all. The Blue Hour is another chapter, I started from a concept, and then I wrote the pieces. I wanted to explore a specific world, that vague shady limbo in between things.

The concept is based on this transition between day and night. Why did this idea become central to the record?

It's not necessarily the transition between day and night. It can be any sort of transition. The Blue Hour represents for me that undefined truth that lies in the middle of things. Any kind of transition you can imagine has that middle point of "revelation", so to say it can be based on awareness or chaos, but It will lead somewhere, somehow. I've chosen the title The Blue Hour as I wanted to give a visual representation of this transitional state, and I believe that twilight is the strongest example.

Do you think the album is a reflective piece?

I wanted to have a strong concept that could link all the songs together. You can think to it like a series of paintings by an artist; there is the same idea behind them all but somehow all of them tell that idea in a different way. They're not isolated but part of the same scheme. Figurative art is one of my primal source of inspiration, the depth that comes out from a painting sometimes can really evoke a melody. While I was writing the album I saw 'The Empire of Light' by Magritte, in which that shade between day and night is strongly present, or the song 'Migrants' is inspired by a series of works about migration made by Italian contemporary artist Stefano Bosis. So overall yes, The Blue Hour is a frame, and like a painter picks the colours for a work, I pick the sounds.

Did you seek to explore both the concept of time and its impact on people's internal, emotional worlds?

I did not want to trigger certain specific emotions on people. I think everyone can choose where to be led by the music. A song that might trigger a positive feeling for me might do the opposite with you. But certainly the idea of time is strongly present in the record. I've composed more or less one hour of time in which people can travel through memories, dreams, or wherever they want to.

Would you say you're a perfectionist when it comes to making music?

Absolutely, I think nowadays the quality of the sound and the style of it are strongly important. I believe that through a certain idea of sounds you can create a unique world. So I do really spend an enormous quantity of time on every sound I make. I could spend days in placing microphones too. I think I'm beyond perfectionism. I struggle a lot when I'm not achieving what I'm aiming for. But I've learned with some experience that it's better to let go at a certain moment, and that's part of the process, it develops in you a hidden awareness.

Is there anyone who you play your pieces to while you're making them?

Oh yes, to my girlfriend Jessica, who's also a musician and singer (under the name J Moon). She's there all the time, she's my number one advisor, and the person I trust the most for her taste and her capacity to understand music. Sometimes I feel we're writing my music together.

I spoke with the vibraphonist, Masayoshi Fujita, recently who commented on how relocating to Berlin helped his writing process because of how free the city feels. Do you think Berlin has informed the way you write?

Somehow yes. To me, the city is so inspiring since I met a lot of musicians and artists here and we spend lots of time together talking about music and sharing ideas. It's funny to see that people moved here for the same reason you did. That's why there is some kind of hidden energy which sort of link us all like a big art scene.

Did you want The Blue Hour to move between structured pieces and more abstract sounds?

Yes, it's a combination of both, the abstract background sounds serve to enrich the melody of a structured piece. Sometimes I start with these sounds, and the piano slowly take shape above them. To enhance the idea of transition, I felt I needed some interludes too, like track 1 'Nel Buio' or track 11 'Interlude'. These pieces reflect the more abstractive part, and the melody is more hidden inside. There is an attention to fine details in the placement of the piano notes and the sharp sounds of the electronics.

Would you consider any of your songs cross over into pop?

I really don't know. Maybe. I like pop music, and I'm always quite impressed by people who can actually write a great song or a hit. I never considered myself as pop, because my approach is totally different, more introspective. But I've been told that some of my tunes are quite accessible so perhaps yes, they do crossover into pop, I just believe is not me to decide.

The Blue Hour is out now.