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CD Feature/ Professor Nineteen: "Diversity of Flowers"

img  Tobias

Maintaining a career in the music business requires just as much creativity as the actual composing. Georg Kochbeck (aka Professor Nineteen) could “sing a song about this”, as a German proverb goes. In the 80s, he worked as a sidekick to rock musicians like Alex Conti, in the early 90s he was elected “most popular German Keyboard player”, while he spent most of the past ten years scoring movie soundtracks and commercials including a high-profile clip featuring Claudia Schiffer.

The warm and upbeat tone of that latter engagement demonstrated that Kochbeck was by no means a disillusioned pop star, but had merely decided to temporarily work on making the world a little better from a different perspective: For the time of 30 seconds at least, it was actually fun watching TV ads again. After his return to the stage with his new band Hotel Nineteen, “The diversity of Flowers” represents his arrival as a solo studio artist – and a true alternative to outdated chillout samplers.

It is also the perfect album to put on after a day of listening to experimental clicks and cuts, scratching twelve tone pieces and dissonant symphonies. Kochbeck is in love with lazy grooves and spaceous productions and the result of his quest is an album which resonates deeply, creates intense moods, but forces nothing on the listener.

The harmonic scales and cool temper of these twelve instrumentals clearly mark them as Jazz, but there are plenty of external influences which prevent the music from being easily boxed – dub echoes, funk fragments, soul ambiances and even faint blues riffs carefully mingle with the introvert midnight club-feel of the tracks, providing casual breaks in the otherwhise dense textures. Again and again, the soundtrack background shines through on “the Diversity of Flowers”. This is especially true in the long opening sequence of “Drifting Spirals” and the way in which it moves from an intruiging sequencer motive into an urban lounge tune. But it also becomes apparent in the abundant use of strings, which provide an air of grandeur and wideness.

Kochbeck uses his electronics in a very proficient and organic way, blurring the lines between synthetic and “natural” means and lending a unified, cohesive touch to the recording as well as a recognisable, smooth and yet slightly mysterious sound design. This may well be the key to the album as a whole. In stark contrast to 99% of comparable productions, Professor Nineteen eschews the typical, easy-to-get-by looped beats from sample CDs, playing every pounding bass drum kick, heartfelt snared drum blow and airbrushed hihat motive himself. As a consequence, the record hangs nicely in between different worlds, causing a slightly surreal sensation, despite its ultra-hazy nature.

This means that one can easily either get too philosophical about “Flowers” (forgetting about its important functional aspects as stimulating background music) or too flipant (disregarding its rich details and different layers). The whole point seems to be that it can be appreciated on both levels without ever going to extremes or unnecessarily compromising.

Georg Kochbeck has put the experience of decades into these pieces and performed them with an unsentimental attitude. It would be nice if Claudia Schiffer could keep walking down the street to the groove of his music without one having to wait for another ten years for the next Professor Nineteen album to be released.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Professor Nineteen at MySpace
Homepage: Georg Kochbeck

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