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Don't shoot them...

img  Tobias

The piano is back! Well, in Non-Classical territory we mean. In Pop music, there have always been brief moments when the pure sound of the instrument was in fashion - mostly in combination with some select artists (the 70s: Elton John, Billy Joel, the 80s: Kate Bush, the 90s: Tori Amos, Fiona Apple). And now, electronic and experimental music is rediscovering the magic of those 88 keys. Two current releases at least seem to point in that direction.

First up is a compilation assembled by young German label Pingipung, which for a change does not hail from Berlin, but from sympathetic L├╝neburg. Their northern roots nicely come through in a string of releases that combine the starry-eyed romanticism of early Aphex Twin with some well-dosed quirkiness. "Pingipung plays: The Piano" meanwhile concentrates on "the huge wooden box" with tracks from the likes of Robert Lippok (from wonderful Post-Rock/Electronic/D├╝sseldorfer Schule/You name it - outfit To Rococo Rot), Adam Butler (who sets sails for Satie) and Thaddeus Herrmann (who has a day-job at German Independent music magazine Intro). As you will quickly discover, the goal was never to aim for purity. For all acts involved, the piano serves as an inspiration and a starting point to embark on a yourney, that can go anywhere. What they all share, however, is a love for the sound of the piano - just listen to the freely available track "Durton" by Nils Frahm, which combines minimal melodic motives with softly clattering rhythms.

Also involved in this project is Volker Bertelmann, aka Hauschka. Now here's an artist who feels fine on a modern label (Karaoke Kalk is the home of fine synthetic pop duo Donna Regina for example) and yet pays hommage to a tradition that starts with Henry Cowell and John Cage. Subsequently, his album is called "The Prepared Piano" and uses an instrument equipped with aluminium paper, rough films, crown caps, interwoven guitar strings and gaffa tape. Yes, it's all been done before, but Hauschka is not content with copying his heroes. Instead, he allows for electric bass and a drum computer, flirts with oriental scales and never shies away from a good melody. A surprising bridge between Classical and modern electronic music.

The new purveyors of the piano therefore have their own minds and their own ideas about how to approach the blueprints of their predecessors. That's what makes their music so worthwhile and enjoyable. And that's what should make you curious about them as well.

Homepage: Pingipung
Homepage: Hauschka at Karaoke Kalk

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