Boomkat Product Review:
First ever presentation of The Lower Depths , Charlemagne Palestine’s epic, systematic 3-part investigation of his trusted Bösendorfer grand’s capacity to produce notes lower than any other piano. Keener observers may have noticed a track called The Lower Depths on his Godbear LP, which was reissued last year by Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle, but this set was recorded at his famous red and gold loft on North Moore Street in Tribeca, and predates that recording by some ten years.
Totalling nearly 3 hours of works made over 3 consecutive performances at his loft space, the recordings effectively describe a transition in cadence from the centre of piano’s keyboard in CD1, to a register two octaves below in CD2, finally arriving at its thrumming Lower Depths before dramatically rising back up again in CD3, all offering a raucous, transfixing testament to the man’s genius in stunning full flow.
As Palestine himself refers to the trilogy of pieces as being “like a soap opera… you get your share of tears and laughter… i watch the afternoon ones that aren’t as visionary, keep it real, the yicky ones” you should have some idea of the typical levels of melodrama and emotion that he puts into these works, which while definitely avant and experimental, also work on an immediate and transcendent level meant to be understood and felt by anyone with ears and an empathetic heart.
With pedals pressed for maximum sustain throughout all parts, Palestine wreaks increasingly intense havoc right on the line between ecstasy and violence across the trilogy, coursing from jagged, jabbing flurries and their lushly discordant harmonics in the first, to panic-raising levels by the time he really hits the lower ends in track 2 of Part 2, and then really gunning for the Bösendorfer’s bowels in a jaw-dropping, thunderous descent, then spiralling back up for breath in a manner that may leave listeners with the bends.
Of course, that’s a simple description of the work’s general dynamic, but the nuance lies in the way Palestine can simultaneously bathe us in fire and still give us the chills, baffling the senses with its majestically chaotic yet sublime clangour. If you’re susceptible to the power of his glissandi as much as us, we rate you’ll fall hard into this one.