Andrea Neumann

Innenklavier

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This mini-disc collects three real-time improvisations by Andrea Neumann, performing on the extracted stringboard of a piano hooked into a mixing desk. Neumann, who had worked with many of the finest improvisers from Europe, Japan, and North America and who is a member of the Berlin-based Phosphor ensemble, is a musician of remarkable breadth and subtlety with an amazing ear for shadings of pitch and tone. Somewhat unusual in this genre, she is also unafraid to aspire to "traditionally" beautiful sounds using the rich, resonating capacity of her Innenklavier ("inside piano") to its fullest advantage. On the first of the three untitled tracks here, the strings are plucked over a low, rumbling backdrop, evoking Japanese koto playing while also acknowledging a modern context; the use of space and the juxtaposition of the pure notes and the complex, electronic underpinning is fascinating. Track two employs a welter of crunching and crackling sounds mixed into several distinct levels of hiss. It fades in and out, sometimes with a faraway throb beneath the foreground attacks, others with aggressively loud, deeply resonant scrapings, all with a vaguely threatening atmosphere. The final piece gloriously abandons itself to multiple levels of a rapidly ratcheting attack, as though the damped strings are being quickly stroked by a series of wire brushes, producing a sound area that oscillates between rustling and watery. This is all, apparently, run through the mixing desk, producing several very different volume levels that jockey for position in the mix. None of this sounds remotely like a piano, although a tangential relationship to its source always hovers over and behind the music. It's a credit to Neumann's musicianship that she not only discovered this fertile ground but mines it with such imagination. Innenklavier is highly recommended to any fans of contemporary improvisation and anyone interested in at least one possible future of the piano.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
6:52
2
8:02
3
6:03
blue highlight denotes track pick