ne of the keys to deconstruction, as stated by a Colorado professor of a class on literary theory, is that even as you come to understand that nothing is stable, that meaning is always contingent and ambiguous, you continue to act as if nothing's wrong. The IDM artist Vert seems to thrive on this dichotomy of meaning and experience and through his recordings on the Sonig label has made a name for himself as one of the finest and most innovative composers on the music scene today. One of the more amazing pieces in his growing catalog of releases is the Koln Konzert. Recorded at the The White Noise Bar in Koln, the Konzert is based, in part, off of the recording of the same name by Keith Jarrett made in 1975. Jarrett's reputation as a jazz pianist is legendary, but also begs the question of how Vert would be able to produce a jazz inflected piece that somehow reflected an air of improvisation, as Jarrett's did.
Taken from Vert's own site in his own words here is how he managed it, "Performing the piece live had various technical difficulties. I made a cdr of the music minus the piano, made another CD-R of metronome clicks (to listen to on headphones), and then played along with them both of them. but I needed something within the mooseic to give me cues, so I introduced a vibe-playing 'bandleader'. The same vibe sound comes in at key points throughout, not only indicating that i should have probably been doing something, but also homogenizing the whole. It was recorded at the first (and only) performance.... I then took the recording back to my studio and made some edits, re-recording some of the piano parts which I'd fucked up live." The lengthy quote illustrates the live playing, but the mechanical perfectionism that goes along with it. The perfect mélange of jazz and IDM, in a non-linear fashion.
On a completely personal bent, my inherent problem with listening to IDM is the apparent two distinct camps of entirely technical and precise music with little to no emotional feeling or anything left to chance to the messy and violent schizotic Kid606 style of music that at first listen seems to be someone taking a piss on his sampler and recording the results. The beauty of this release, then, is that it takes both parts, losing none of the edge of either and it adds even more.
The first piece of the Konzert, the original was broken into four, takes 5 notes from Jarrett's piece and expands them into a meditative 15 minute ambient piece. The vibes and the piano interplay while various electronic warbling and effects are heard in the background laying the background to the piece.
The piece continues in the same way, for the most part, blending Jarrett's original composition, Vert's own flourishes upon it, and completely original Vert soundtracking material that seems to fit into the piece, as though it had been there the entire time. The inherently odd thing about this live recording, however, is the lack of indicators that it is live. It could be that it's done from the soundboard, but the only time that one is aware that this recording was done in real-time is the smattering of applause at the end. As a true music geek, I am highly interested in hearing the real time recording that Vert actually did before he re-recorded the parts that he had messed up. It is only a small problem, but one that has bothered me from the day that I began to listen to it, nonetheless.
In the defining conclusion of the Koln Konzert the crescendo of sound threatens to bludgeon the ears. A caocophony of distorted beat and piano meandering threatens to envelope the listener in its cold distorted cocoon of sound. Then, as soon as it seemed that the sounds that had been invading in your ears had come up to the forefront of the mix, everything is taken away. A single piano melody remains, plaintive, pensive, beautiful. And you sit as you've always sat in your chair, aware that maybe nothing is stable, but surely nothing is wrong.