Boomkat Product Review:
Ingenious avant-garde composer Reinhold Friedl (Zeitkratzer) yields an ace follow-up to his solo magnum opus, ‘Inside Piano’ , returning to his prepared piano for another beguiling, and more holistic investigation of the instrument’s guts and soul
‘Music For Piano,…’ is Friedl’s first major solo work since ‘Inside Piano’ (not counting 2012’s ‘Mutanza’ LP of “cover” versions), and serves a gripping reminder of why we, among many others, became so fascinated by his visceral, dynamic work in the first place. Stripped right back to just the composer/performer and his prepared instrument, the record’s four pieces present unflinching accounts of a grand piano being “played” unconventionally, using all manner of resonant objets laid on, stroking, or striking its strings in order to unleash its rawest inner voice.
Friedl is hardly the first to experiment with prepared pianos - John Cage and the Fluxus lot got there first, and even AFX had a dabble in ‘Drukqs’ - but Friedl’s now arguably the preeminent exponent of prepared piano music (and surely a piano tuner’s worst nightmare!). As such, the title of ‘Music For Piano’ takes on greater significance, as it isn’t just concerned with its guts, but rather the whole thing, from the keys to what lies inside.
Where his previous study could be hellishly abstract and aggressive, this follow-up feels more tempered and broader in scope, with gestures that recall everything from lapsteel blues guitar twang and the elegance of Korean classical court music, to the polyrhythms of Indonesian gamelan orchestras and the timbral complexities of Romanian spectralist styles. Yet, while the first three parts arguably sound like a tangle of all the above, and understandably sound acoustic (if hyperreal), the 4th and final piece generates remarkably electronic-sounding qualities as a result of Friedl’s precise E-Bow technique, and ultimately pays testament to his tenacity and skill in breaking down and reframing the very meaning of piano music.