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Clade 'Klavierstücke' CDR £8.99


September 2017. Recent examinations of boxes of stock at ICR Distribution Central revealed a few copies of this beautiful release from 2014 that had slipped under the radar. we are delighted to be able to have this available, albeit briefly, as it is truly a very fine piece of music. Get it while you can, there were only 100 of them!

REVIEW fron THE QUIETUS by RUSSELL CUZNER  Clade took seven days in a San Franciscan studio to explore the sonorities of its piano, organ and keyboard, utilising a hand-picked selection of microphones to capture every detail of each note's attack, decay, sustain and release. They then spent a further week in Oakland processing and reducing the resultant 12 hours of recordings into the nine works presented here on Klavierstücke. They name it after a famous piano work by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen but sound nothing like his avant garde notes scattered at discordant angles according to serialist theories. Instead, the comparisons it is more likely to draw are with Music For Airports, Clade’s consonant, pure notes being captured as lovingly as Eno's revolutionary recording from 1978. But whereas Music For Airports was designed for use in the background, a pacifier even, Clade's comparatively fuller-sounding Klavierstücke demand close listening and is more likely to inspire a range of emotions in would-be passengers, some of which would seem unsuitable for plane flight. It progresses and turns corners, quests and ponders, from severely haunted modes to genuinely life-affirming melodies like that of the fourth piece. Also unlike Eno's snug, comfort blanket ambience, some of Klavierstücke's cinematic themes bring in sounds from the piano's body, its resonant wooden panelling and ribbed strings. Although these knocks and scrapes are largely used in a decorative manner, they are almost always carried along by the comparatively mellifluous tones of a droning organ or layered keys to provide a rewarding, deep, meditative sojourn.


If we’re to think of ambient music as that which evaporates into the breathing air, circumventing space with the liberal flow of smoke, then Klavierstücke is the precise opposite: a thickening agent that turns air into translucent, anti-gravity gelatine, into which piano notes are embedded like shards of splintered wood. The record is not a stream of consciousness. It doesn’t settle upon my mind like dust upon a cabinet top, entrenching itself in my sensory environment. It’s an electric shock or a sudden dagger of sunlight through the window; a jagged imposition upon stasis, with every sharp, deliberate piano note – often on a dissonant angle to the one before – penetrating my world like a knife. Somehow, Clade’s playing style is both sensitive and irrefutably dense.

The air surrounding the piano is often clammy and oppressive, loaded with particles of microphone hiss and organ/synth noise passing like nearby motorway traffic. “Klavierstück V” sounds like piano writhing under constrictive bedsheets, trying to wriggle out from under a blanket of microtonal drones while in the panicked throes of nightmare, with hammered keys replaced with the unoiled whimpers and clunks of pedal mechanism. Yet the sense of destabilisation isn’t always unpleasant. “Klavierstück IV” is an optimistic proclamation, striding boldly between three chords to form a triangle of emerging epiphany – truths seamlessly interlocked, each announced in the boldest, most vibrant manner possible, penetrating the self-imposed humidity. I feel Clade’s thumbs on my temples, holding my head in place, forcing me to pay attention, watching a stereotypically placid instrument rain bowling balls of light and harmony upon my head. I hear details that I would have missed if given the freedom to break away.

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