Erwin Stache - "Harmonie Der Nicht Ganz Reellen Töne"
(Rund Um Den Watzmann 1999, WATZMANN 008)
From Aural Innovations #8 (October 1999)
Erwin Stache is a pianist from Leipzig in the former East Germany (GDR). Or rather, he is, as the promo material describes, "a musician and designer and constructor of sound and musical objects". This is accurate as is his description of the music as "an improvisation with piano and machines". Stache's attempts are hit and miss for this listener. The purely mechanical moments didn't always do much for me, and, at the opposite extreme, his solo piano works, though impressive, left me wanting something more. But Stache is indeed an accomplished pianist, and the best moments on this disc are when he is alternating rapid fire avant classical piano pieces with quieter more atmospheric ones, and combining all this with the wildest of sounds both vocal and object created. The piano strings are just as game for playing as are the ivories, and I believe he's utilizing other stringed instruments as well. Playing these along with his found objects produce several interesting moments, some dark and mysterious and other enjoyably playful.
Stache is also apparently an active live performer and it sounds like an Erwin Stache show would be quite an experience. The CD liner notes describe one performance in which a bucket-elevator was transporting marbles and steel balls upwards and dropping them on to two dulcimers. Interesting and perhaps fun.
The CD case housing the disc is a work in itself. You open it up and a mechanism inside causes a screeching noise. In fact, the Rund Um Den Watzmann label's stated intent is to "fully explore the wide range of possibilities of records and their product packaging". Thus each is an artistic object in itself. Well, it certainly is a novelty.
For more information you can email Erwin Stache at email@example.com.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz