Hans Fjellestad

Kobe Live House

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Recorded live at the Big Apple in Kobe, Japan, in October 2003, Kobe Live House sums up Hans Fjellestad's work to date and sets the stage for his next adventures. Throughout this delicately flowing album, the keyboardist switches back and forth between piano, synthesizer, and computer. Most avant-garde artists will either choose to perform an acoustic free improvisation concert or an electronic set at the computer. Fjellestad does both, remixing some of his previous recordings (and undoubtedly, new compositions) at the computer while improvising noisy romps on the synthesizer and delicate piano pieces. What strikes the listener most about this recording is that he makes it all hold together. The structure of the performance rarely feels improvised, even though specific sections of it are. It feels as if Fjellestad wrote a meta-composition to frame his earlier pieces. Most impressive are the inclusion of "Slow Motion Perp Walk" and "Free Throw Prophet," both heard in their original form on Red Sauce Baby, and here integrated into a wider, ever-shifting whole. The first set (39 minutes) unfolds smoothly and includes a delightful electronics-enhanced piano episode. The second set (27 minutes) is somewhat less convincing: Fjellestad turns to noisier content and the transitions from section to section (or instrument to instrument) feel rougher and more tentative. Still, Kobe Live House is an impressive statement. It shows that composers of chamber and electro-acoustic music can borrow the tricks of the experimental electronica crowd to reshape their music for a smaller live context.

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