Prepared Piano as a MIDI file.
Plunderphonia by PC Nackt (Patrick Christensen) has been coming for quite a few years. It has a fascinating premise too. Its the first album in a series of that will be helmed by different artists under the !K7 label. The idea is to rearrange historical music but in a way that goes beyond simple covers or arrangements. It would merge into original music and blur the lines between original and arrangements.
PC Nackt brings to the table pieces from Schubert, Scarlatti, Bach, Schumann and Mozart but in doing so arrives with a prepared piano, a collection of synths and a MIDI file collection that wants to go clubbing. Across 9 tracks these three elements combine to create some hypnotic and alluring as the organic and the digital coexist in the same note.
That sounds a bit arty farty but take the track ‘Exobase_Scalatti’. Its prepared piano hammers feels organic but there is a MIDI plink at the same time. Behind it the velvet trim pads smudge and an ominous hazy synth grows more ill-tempered. It feels neither organic nor digital and that got under my skin. Where PC Nackt’s love for MIDI shines is when it effortlessly trickles notes at a mechanical but rampant pace. You can hear the original melody or motifs but now they feel broken and untrustworthy. ‘Space_Schubert’ is a great example of how the MIDI sounds like a modular synth at times whereas ‘Karman_Bach’ actually is a modular synth – complete with baby laughter samples for good measure.
The album names tracks after various layers of Earth’s atmosphere and what I found interesting was that as we travelled lower and lower into the atmosphere, things didn’t become more human. Instead, they become more distorted and muddy. ‘Ozon_Mozart’ is a bubbling potion of noises and whilst the album does become more gentile towards the end, the blur between digital and analogue remained. I do wish more had been made of the space theme although it does rear its head with some lovely bird song at times.
‘Plunderphonia’ is for fans of Hauschka, Hania Raia (who was part of the project too) and prepared piano or modern classical fans. I also think that fans of modular synth music will enjoy hearing how a classical theme has been deconstructed into a mechanical binary form too. I’m not entirely sure I quite ‘got it’ as a full concept but there are several moments of absolute wonder. These are usually when the MIDI and the human collide into a frenzied jet stream of emotion and sound and for that alone, I recommend this to fans of the genre.
To explain the concept better, PC Nackt has also created an interesting making of video which you can enjoy below.
Recommended track: Space_Schubert
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