Martin Kohlstedt’s third record and opus “Strom” is a stream of ruthless moments exposing the piano to the elements. Amid the flow of the nine pieces the composer himself slowly dissipates and enables the experience of music in its most primal dynamic. One witnesses the transformation of closeness and intimacy into vastness and force and that there is beauty to be found in everything – especially in the ephemeral. Consequently “Strom” brings forth manifold forms of itself, appearing hazy and perilous, in the next instant direct, almost playful to ultimately appear awestruck in the face of its own gravity. No distinct answers have been thought of, no measures taken, no interpretation preconceived for “Strom”. Instead you could get the feeling that Martin Kohlstedt, with this record, erected a monument in honor of intuition itself.
Now almost a year has passed since the release of his last solo-piano album. Since then Martin Kohlstedts courage to seek dialogues through music resulted in his “Nacht Reworks“ (2015) – eight very different pieces reimagening his record “Nacht“ by artists from Germany, Iceland, the UK and the US. Amongst them are resounding names like FM Belfast, Christian Löffler, Douglas Dare or hundreds as well as emerging talents like La Boum Fatale or Spearfisher. Some of their reworks seem like a sensitive commentary on the original, others are completely different ways of looking at the source material. And some have become the frame for joint projects, at eye level and dedicated to something new. “Nacht Reworks“ plays into Kohlstedts idea of a fluid body of work rather than searching for a so called perfect version of a composition and is a major step in his attempt to expand his already defined musical language.
Martin Kohlstedt’s second album “Nacht“ (2014) directly refers to its predecessor, yet it reverses his perspectives, grabbing and pointing them inward. Preceded by playfully asked questions in “Tag“ (2012), nine monologues are now to follow with utter consistency. These reduced piano pieces speak with a kind of suppressed restlessness while keeping enough distance from recklessness. Within them, one can find Kohlstedt rigorously working on himself; repetition and rhythmic transformations develop an inward-pointing momentum. “Nacht“ is able to pull itself out of this emerging undertow time and time again, even during its most awkward moments. Subconsciously one would like to believe in this, latch oneself onto the emerging structure – even as the piece is being constructed, stroke for stroke. But to arrive at one’s personal destination, that is just a utopia in the eyes of Martin Kohlstedt. “Nacht“, translated ‘Night’, tells a tale of a search for this suitable location. That’s why it might be hard to grasp what it’s getting after – but Kohlstedt unconditionally confides in his listeners. It just doesn’t get more personal than that with modern compositions.
Shortly after the release of “Tag”, people who listened to the music came back to Martin Kohlstedt. Not only was there the will to take from his play, but also the will to give back, by adding something to it. First samples and remixes were handed in, without even being asked for. Experiencing so much response, Kohlstedt found sense in taking the album to the next level, and started to actively search for people to work with. His idea was not to create something completely new, but to add some new features, some unknown aspects. The perspective changed, and with this changing the songs got a new, different strength and power. The kindness one can find in the originals is picked up in the remixes. The electronic adaptions take extraordinarily much material of Kohlstedts compositions. They stroke the tune more than they touch them and you feel the respect for Kohlstedts work, when you listen to the electronic beats.
“Tag” is the German equivalent for day and Martin Kohlstedts first personal sanctuary. Every single piano piece was inspired by meaningful, decisive and fortunate events in his life, which he was not able to mantel and thus unfolded in music. Daily routine tends to conceal reality, so that we remain capable of acting, which in turn promotes our music to be analytically. The day resembles a movie traversed by unreflected emotions and reactions, most of the time. Oddly, only the night is able to reveal the complexities of thought that try to haunt us every day. The shell of every person falls in a different way, in Martins case with music.
Last December I had the honour to play in the sold out Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. I will keep the feeling of this wonderful, boundless, almost absurd day forever and I will probably never be able to explain what kind of energy was actually released in this giant reactor.
The music reacts with space and audience – introverted, improvised and concentrated. All these people and the massive room have made it possible to turn my own world around and created a considerable arena for the fight between HAR and NAO. Many, many thanks for that! Thanks to everyone involved. If you couldn’t get one of the 2000 tickets or dare to relive this ceremony again, you now have the opportunity to see the modular composition HARNAO as a live video.
The second chapter is out now! My fellow Patrick Richter did it again and released the next episode of his documentary about my approach to making music. He joined me during my travels through Russia, the United States, Iran, Turkey, Europe and finally entered my mind.
Thanks for these touching and unrestrained pictures. I’m very happy to finally share it with all of you – also for english and french speaking people out there.
On the 24th of January the first rehearsals with the 70-headed choir of the Gewandhaus Leipzig will take place and the top secret doings with Gregor Meyer of the last months that roamed around in the dark caverns surrounding my album release will come to light one by one — and ultimately climax in the premiere coming summer:
Nobody knows how my freely improvised and intuitive pieces will collide with the minutely composed classical scores. Maybe this uncertainty is the reason why most of the tickets are already gone — so do not wait for too long! In any case you can follow this project on twoplaytoplay.de and see it grow, stall, excel of even fail in one of the three the public rehearsals, two of which are already sold out. I, for my part, am already ecstatic!
LEEUWARDEN (NL) Welcome to the Village
FELDKIRCH (AT) Poolbar Festival
HOHENLOCKSTEDT Habitat Festival
HANNOVER SNNTG Festival
VAREL Wattenschlick Festival
SECRET PLACE 3000Grad Festival
DORSET (UK) End Of The Road
DORTMUND Way Back When Festival
LONDON (UK) St. Pancras Old Church
LEUVEN (BE) 30CC
ROESELARE (BE) De Spil
UTRECHT (NL) TivoliVredenburg
NIJMEGEN (NL) LUX
PARIS (FR) MaMa Festival
PORDENONE (IT) Ex Convento San Francesco
ZÜRICH (CH) Exil
MANNHEIM Alte Feuerwache
BIELEFELD Bunker Ulmenwall
Intuitively Martin Kohlstedt feels his way through this body of wood, felt hammers and steel strings. The young composer, who grew up in the forests of Thuringia, doesn’t just put on an anonymous fingerplay – he perpetually opens himself up with each and every moment, with every stroke of the keys. An attempt to create something close and personal – beyond sophisticated classics or artificial pathos. Kohlstedt isn’t reenacting a play, he’s holding a musical conversation with his instruments. At times he might even lose his self-control and get carried away. Particularly in a concert setting, one might take note of this kind of aggressive straightforwardness, perhaps making him seem vulnerable. If you were standing off to the side, you could even find it cheesy. Nevertheless, the argumentation between character and piece is so fierce, that you just can’t get around it. Consider yourself lucky under these circumstances – because that’s exactly what Martin Kohlstedt needs, this soundbox, his audience.
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