Bernhard Arndt is a stunning pianist of depth, vision, and striking originality. Coming from a background that includes Bud Powell, John Cage, Herbie Nichols, La Monte Young, and Cecil Taylor, his approach, while effusive and often explosive, is rooted in a technical virtuosity that is staggering on both the inside and outside of the piano's body. Utilizing small, electronic, digital delays to create microtonal palettes from his skittering skeins of note clusters and chorded tapestries, Arndt is able to showcase truly what Monk meant when he said he played the notes between the keys. When listened to either loudly or with headphones, these tiny microharmonics become clearly evident and engulf the listener in a swirl of musical and tonal language previously unrealized. Whether Arndt is leaning deeply into one register for the flatness of tone that can only be realized when playing the outermost edge of a key with all of the mute pedals on, or reaching through the middle for the extended chord voices provided by his own reaction to the electronic amplifications emanating from his own playing, Arndt is not content to stay inside an idea for too long, preferring instead to round it out with denser bodies of timbre and attack. The 11 studies here are liable to wrap the listener in a cocoon of musical ambiguity, as the piano ceases sounding like itself and becomes more a key to the universe of overtone and chromatic architecture. To call what Arndt does anything other than sonic investigation would be a disservice to him and his work. Suffice to say that Arndt's recordings here are pure music realized through an impure approach to creating and manipulating sound. Inside Insight is truly a visionary work.
Inside Insight Review
by Thom Jurek