I know a piano remix LP of leftfield ambience is an odd choice for many, but really; this LP is a must have for cool cats everywhere
Hauschka – Versions of the Prepared Piano
Now this is an interesting LP from a very intriguing artist. I think it's safe to quote his biog at this point, just to give you all a little background information. Otherwise I wouldn't know where to start...
"Hauschka is the alias of Dusseldorf–based pianist/composer Volker Bertelmann, whose work is based upon an exploration of the possibilities of the 'prepared' piano - a playfully disruptive intervention into the preconceived idea of the piano as a pure-toned, perfected instrument waiting for a gifted virtuoso to play on it. Instead, Volker explores and influences the outcome of his playing by getting right down inside the instrument - clamping wedges of leather, felt or rubber between the strings; preparing the hammers with aluminium paper or rough films; placing crown corks on the strings, weaving guitar strings around the piano's guts, or pasting them down with gaffa tape. These little modifications throw up an array of rustling, drumming, shivering, scraping, resonating sounds which either provide the focus or drive for a piece or hook the ear into an intriguing, slightly unusual frame."
Ostensibly, this release is an LP of remixes of tracks from Hauschka's Prepared Piano LP (which came out in 2005). Luminaries such as Nobukazu Takemura, Tarwater, Mira Calix, Frank Bretschneider, and Barbara Morgenstern have their creations tampered with in the most delightful way. The opener is a cracker too. Eglantine Gouzy's Mr Spoon is bonkers; the combination of kooky vocals and slightly atonal keyboards is beguiling.
One thing to note; there's a lot of quiet, slightly camp, psychotically twee stuff going on here. Some is veering towards the dreamy (such as Barbara Morgenstern's Im Schlaf or Mira Calix's Without Mornin Mix) other bits are decidedly odd but enjoyable (check out Nobukazu Takemura's Assembler's Mix or Chica and the Folder's Para Bien if you want proof for this claim). Sometimes the two strands meet to create something absolutely brilliant. Just check out the mix of Frank Bretschneider's Stumm or TG Mauss's Things.
I know a piano remix LP of leftfield ambience is an odd choice for many, but really; this LP is a must have for cool cats everywhere.
Words: Richard Foster