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Cor Fuhler - Stengam

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Artist: Cor Fuhler

Album: Stengam

Label: Potlatch

Review date: Mar. 1, 2007

More than many instruments, the piano has a sound, a history and a repertoire that can easily overwhelm a player’s individuality. How many times have you seen someone sit down and put his or her fingers to the keyboard only to hear a generic “piano” sound that turns the music into so much sonic whitewash? One way out of that cul de sac is piano preparation; detune it, retune it, put stuff on the strings either randomly or with careful consideration, and the instrument can’t help but sound different.

Dutchman Cor Fuhler is definitely not a man to take any instrument at face value; in addition to being an accomplished keyboardist, he’s also pursued deep inquiries into non-keyboard-controlled electronics and instrument invention. The imagination he wields in fashioning sound-makers does not desert him when it comes to making sounds, and he’s at the height of his powers throughout this marvelous album.

Ostensibly a solo piano recital, the title tells you want it’s really about. Hint — read backwards. Fuhler uses ebows and magnets throughout Stengam to harness pure resonance. At some points he summons a pure sine wave from a single string, or deploys gamelan-like tolls and clock-like chimes in cautious counterpoint. Fuhler is hardly the only player using these techniques, and he certainly doesn’t wield them as though nifty sounds are enough, although there are moments when they are. What makes this the first great avant album of 2007 is the disciplined and thoughtful way that he puts his novel sounds to use. Fuhler twines and turns his glassy tones as though his piano were an orchestra, albeit one that mainly plays water-filled wineglasses.

A link to what he does with the piano:

By Bill Meyer

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