Boomkat Product Review:
Gyring, piquant and mindbending computer manipulations of church organ from US and German students of Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton, marking their debut collaboration with a variegated suite for Stefan Schneider’s TAL imprint.
“Tastaturstuecke Vol 1 introduces nine outstanding new compositions for church organ, harpsichord, and self-programmed software. The album comprises the first collaborative recordings of Brian Parks (Atlanta) and Phillip Schulze (Düsseldorf). The two musicians first met in the early 2000s at the famous Wesleyan University, Connecticut, where they regularly attended seminars of their teachers Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton. Through extended preparations for a series of live performances in Europe in 2019 (e.g. at the Approximation Festival, Düsseldorf) Parks and Schulze developed and refined a unique approach towards composition, highlighting their interest in the correlation of the invariable flawlessness of a computer versus the human performer on church organ or harpsichord.
Largely written for church organ and harpsichord all pieces also correspond perfectly with the physical spaces the recordings have taken place at. The album was recorded in three different churches in Düsseldorf which have been chosen for the different qualities of their specific room acoustics. Treating slight differences in pitch, phasing, overtones and rhythm all compositions on Tastaturstuecke Vol 1 offer an evocative density and flexibility that imbue the music with an organic feel.
The nine pieces range in shape and form from concise and sharp clarity such as "Ranking Studies 1-3" to the extended, exquisitely paced radiance of the eight minutes of "Partials Chrorale". "Mensuring Canon for 8 voices" is obsessively restated in constantly changing permutations whereas the metronomic "Reliefs For Ecclesial Space" sounds urgent, deep and explosive. The last piece, "Activated Progression", in particular reverses the roles between computer and the human musician. The software never messes up the phase. The human would do his best to gradually change from one state to another. Once decisions are made regarding registration and finger assignment, the human should behave like a well-fabricated wind-up toy. The two hands remain offset the entire time, and at the fastest possible speed, enact patterns of three notes (left hand) and four notes (right hand). The computer meanwhile, moves from Euclidean rhythm to Euclidean rhythm over leisurely time periods.”