Poignant pi­ano pieces by the man from Can.

Prog - - The Musical Box - CR

The oc­to­ge­nar­ian Can founder mem­ber still de­fies con­ven­tion. His first solo re­lease since 2015’s ret­ro­spec­tive con­sists of five pi­ano im­pro­vi­sa­tions played once, no ed­its or cor­rec­tions. They’re rich with emo­tional evo­ca­tions, as he coaxes el­egy and agony from the ebony and ivory. For all the min­i­mal­ism, the lis­tener projects that the re­cent deaths of Hol­ger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit flicker through this like benev­o­lent ghosts. Sch­midt is now the last Can stand­ing. He hon­ours both the band’s legacy and his own with a wil­fully sparse set of mu­sic which some­how em­braces nos­tal­gia, fu­tur­ism and time­less­ness. The pieces are num­bered I to V, and while the first is a haunted se­ries of notes which set the tone, the sec­ond – where there’s a gap of over 25 sec­onds af­ter the first note – brings in rustling am­bi­ent sounds and tinny rhythms recorded around his French stu­dio. (It’s some­thing of a jolt when those rhythms come in.) III and IV also feel per­cus­sive; V re­verts to spiky me­lan­choly. Sch­midt has cited Schu­bert and John Cage as in­flu­ences, and of the two pi­anos used, one was pre­pared with the stylings he was taught by Cage. A hyp­notic duel be­tween si­lence and hu­man­ity.

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