Romaine Brooks’ painting Renata Borgatti, Au Piano is one of the most fitting intros to an album with calm piano music. To me the painting does not only project a certain calmness, but also a little bit of concentration. And that is what it’s all about in the end. Perceiving music in its full extent and noticing details after the second or third listening. The piano in the painting is very present and makes clear that this should be its only focus. Both on the musically and graphically level there is a special simplicity that combines the painting and the piece to a pleasant outcome.
What I like the most about Paul Klee’s Ancient Harmony is that it gives you a nice frame for your own musical piece. As you can hear there are deep synth-layers at the beginning and end of the track, symbolizing the dark outside of Klee’s painting. The colorful squares in the center suggest that is has to be a very jumpy, repetitive piece, but warm never the less. If one takes a look at the colors of every single square, one will notice that there is nothing flashy at all. Every tone is kind of earthy or has an autumn-leaves-like appearance. That is the reason why the piece sounds kind of warm, but still a little melancholic and dreamy.
There it is, the first surreal painting! Christian Schloe is without a doubt a master of combining different things to something new, that then seem like they are completely normal. His work The Great Escape functions in the exact same way and reveals new details after looking at it again and again. At the beginning of the piece I tried to focus on the „escape“-aspect and capturing the ladder that leans on the tree. The second run more or less climbs up this tree/cloud-symbiosis, leading to the third run that is (musically speaking) the most deep one. The break towards the end featuring only the Una Corda symbolizes the feeling of the person standing upon this surreal tree. Something dreamy, maybe even something sad or resigning, because ultimately, this person is more or less escaping on this tree.
The longest piece on the album is dedicated to Duy Huynh’s painting Stayed Up All Night Wondering Where The Sun Went, Then It Dawned On Me. The intro is, like on The Great Escape, a solo Una Corda that tries to capture the mood of the painting: a human being standing on some kind of hill watching the distance. It is a very common theme in art, but what I like most about Huynh’s work is that it has a very simple scenery and does not burst with details like in C.D. Friedrich’s paintings (e.g. The Wanderer). The Juno-synth at minute two tries to translate a sunrise into music: making a slow progress forward (or even better: upwards).
La Route de Louveciennes by Camille Pissaro was the first piece I have worked on. The strange thing is that I had a very nice idea for it in my mind when I looked at it for the first time. It was a solo piano piece, about 5 minutes long and very simple. But as time went by I was bored by the fact that it was only piano. The painting itself has so many different aspects that it simply would not have done any justice by playing only the piano for it. What happened next can be described as a very happy accident (like Bob Ross put it). I discovered that a good buddy of mine, who also is a writer, plays the violin and wanted to help me out. We shared the stage multiple times before, but never talked about music. So we decided to meet up, I prerecorded some chords on the Rhodes which I thought were fitting and Marius went complete genius on it. Without any questioning he exactly knew how I wanted the piece to sound and even made it better than I had imagined.
The Lovers II was, if I remember correctly, the first work of art I decided to add a soundtrack to. I thought it was kind of obvious to pick a Magritte-painting, because his works are surely surrealistic, but still not too absurd to understand. The mix of common things and basically impossibilities fascinated me and still does. If you listen to my piece you might notice that it is divided up into three parts. The idea was to compose one part for one lover, the second part for the other lover and a final part to sum up everything. Which part is now for which love depends on the listener.
It does not get more abstract than this. Monochrome Bleu is not only the title of Yves Klein’s work, but also (of course) the name of the color that is presented. The piece I wrote for this painting cannot be explained without a certain subjectivity. Because after all, there is no fix, no object, no detail, not one single focus to build the music on - it’s just the plain color. This piece is the only one that resulted out of an improvisation and has not been polished in any way. Steven & Piet from Pavallion were at my flat for half a day, I recorded them jamming and added another synthesizer at the end to give the piece some kind of frame. The result, to me, is something that sounds nautical or underwater-ish. In the widest sense has something to do with the color blue, I guess. And also it’s a fantastic transition to the final piece.
There actually is an unusual development history to this painting. I discovered Helen Frankenthaler’s work The Grove by accident when I was looking for contemporary works of art and thought it would be nice to have something from my year of birth on the album. As a consequence of me misreading the title, I thought the painting was called „The Groove“ and immediately had an idea for a piece that is very percussive, something like a beat or an electronic track. As you can hear, I held on to that idea. Even after noticing the painting was called The Grove and had nothing to do with grooving or rhythm. Still, in my opinion it looks like this dark thing in the middle is surrounded by many drums. You can share that notion, and if you don’t that is also fine. The hidden track in the last two minutes of the piece is an idea I had during the recording-work. I could not place it anywhere. Maybe it will function as the opener of the next album. We’ll see.