While three people are listed on the cover are Pianist Reinhold Friedl, instrument constructor David Balzer, and electronic musician Sukandar Kartadinata, the real star of Golden Quines, Earthed for spatialized Neo-Bechstein is the instrument itself, the Neo -Bechstein. This rare instrument is the ultimate dream toy for any steampunk enthusiast. It was a short-lived experiment in integrating new technology with a traditional piano, during the 1920s. It is a standard piano, without a sounding board, fitted with magnetic coils, radio technology, and an audio output.
The unique construction of the instrument gives Kartadinata new options for processing the sound; the entire album is “spatialized.” What does this mean? Put on your headphones and find out. Throughout the single-track album, the sounds swing freely from side to side in the stereo field creating a disorienting, dizzying effect. The artists take full advantage of the unique electronic element of the instrument in this regard. Often various elements of the sound are pulled side to side independently, creating the illusion of several instruments played together, rather than a solo performance. The spacialization makes the piece reminiscent of sound effects in a planetarium.
The end result is a swirling adventure in the possibilities of a one-of-a-kind constructed, prepared, and processed instrument. The album begins with a fade-in several minutes long. This creates a feeling of great distance being traveled, as if the artists had light years to traverse before presenting their music. This sci-fi, spacy quality pervades the album. The majority of the actual playing is done directly to the strings of the open instrument and rarely do we hear the keys struck. At times, the strings are strummed like a harp; other times they are bowed, creating an eerie wail. At one point, the artists even manage to create a sound comparable to steel guitar. All of these textures zigzag across an ever-present field of drones and long echoes.
These mesmerizing sounds could be compared to a chaotic wind storm with short peaceful lulls between crescendos into violence. On the other hand, the feeling of deep, lonely space is also invoked. In any case, the Neo-Bechstein and its three caretakers have created a truly unique sonic adventure. (David Madel Squidco)
Zeitkratzer director, Reinhold Friedl continues his dissection and re-evaluation of classical tropes with this mesmerising investigation of the Neo-Bechstein Grand Piano – the first electronic piano of the 20th century. ‚Golden Quinces, Earthed for spatialised Neo-Bechstein’ follows from the relative violence of ‚Inside Piano’ (2011), one of our favourite releases of that year, with a much more subtle approach, using the Neo-Bechstein’s in built pick-ups and radio receiver – the first of their kind when invented by Walter Nernst and Hans Driescher between 1929-1931 – together with software and fader board manned by Sukander Kartadinata to fully explore the instrument’s unusually long tone – it oscillates about six times longer than a normal piano tone – and wider frequency capacity. Coupled with an innovative 8X8 channel matrix of speakers, the resultant sound opens beyond the usual single-person fixed perspective into a dynamic play of rotation and velocity, basically flinging the sound in the kind of shapes that make our eyes spin when heard on headphones. It’s quite incredible, and reliably recorded, mixed and mastered by Rashad Becker. Bit of a no brainer for more insatiable ears.