We could suggest that today’s recommendation is an example of how varied our coverage is. We could do, but we won’t, as the only reason that we feature such a disconnected assortment on this blog is because we have only one piece of qualifying criteria – that the artists have to be awesome. Today we focus on one such artist. He won’t be for everyone – awesomeness is of course subjective – but we believe in him, so we figured a little in-depth coverage was warranted. Looking at the artists we have featured so far in 2012, you can find sugary pop with mainstream appeal in Bluebell, or ambient shoegaze with The Soft, or the conceptual minimalism that is Nicholas Desamory. We would suggest that the latter shares more genes with today’s discovery than the other two, so this is another case of you arriving on The Recommender and opening your mind. In fact, you should perhaps consider this post something of an industrial-sized, hydraulic mind-opener.
Releasing through the independent Austrian electronic label, Fabrique, Berlin pianist and electro producer Arnold Kasar has recently set about releasing some new solo work. To those that are familiar with Berlin scenes you may know Kasar from a range of projects. He has been a member of the German outfit, Nylon, was a long-term collaborator with the renowned Sonar Kollektiv, as part of Micatone, and helped write and produce with Friedrich Liechtenstein, all alongside the work he designed on his Atomhockey Project. This not only confirms how busy the man is, with music seemingly pouring out of his fingertips, but shows us the scale of his in-demand talents. Considered as a truly modern composer – in the traditional sense of the word – a kind of classical futurist, this is a case of locating an artist that marries a special ability with a mind that is stylistically wide open.
Kasar says he takes inspiration from as distant a spectrum as the Spaghetti Western film composer, Ennio Morricone, to the godfather of ambient music and elite, innovative production, Brian Eno. Kasar makes mostly high-concept instrumental pieces that centralise themselves around his instrument of choice, the piano. Here is an artist so skilled in the ivories that he is able to truly push what it can do, even opening the lid and tinkering around with the strings as he hits notes, whilst discovering limitless possibilities with the additional use of electronics and programming. If music is to be enjoyed, to be playful, to be enlightening, then surely you cannot get more pleasure than with watching someone who has mastered an instrument so well that they’re able to create whatever their mind can stretch to.
His album, The Piano Has Been Smoking, (a title tipping a Tom Waits reference), is where the classical and orchestral collide with the mechanical and industrial. Opening tune, The Black Keys, see electronics crash into delicate keys with a rush of cerebral melodies, it’s like a robot waking up with a blush of self-consciousness. Rerik is a pulsing train ride throughout, mixing up beats and keys in a warm comfortable journey. Put A Light On Me finds Kasar providing vocals for the first time ever on record, in a wonderful song that would have Karl Hyde fans stretching out a hand to arrest the smooth downhill slide. In fact introducing lyrics and vocals to an otherwise instrumental run of songs hands the album some welcome peaks, none more so than with Solo Sunny, where the Japanese artist Mami Konishi, also known as Minguss, lends her spiritual voice. Elsewhere you find epic songs, such as the tune, Poles, which beats as if steel and anvils were his medium, rather than ivory and strings, where as songs such as the title track and Muellrose virtually remove the metronome entirely, yet still maintain a rounded sense of momentum.
The album arrived in the last couple of weeks, with a handful of shows scheduled in August and September, so it will be interesting to see how it will be replicated into a live performance, particularly with him admitting that he’s never had to sing on stage. His high-concept tunes are consistently interesting and contemporary, so no doubt those gigs will be mesmerising. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to locate anyone else operating at horizons this broad, whilst still being able write such focused, accessible music. Here is an artist producing extraordinary work with what is basically a piano and an imagination. The lesson seems to be that in order to get the most out of anything – whether it’s your instrument or your music blog – the key to evolution and regular satisfaction is to approach things with an open mind. We doubt you will find a mind with horizons more infinite than Kasar’s. (MB)
KASAR – SOLO SUNNY (ft MINGUSS)