Henrik Schwarz and 7K! are pleased to announce the first release on his new label, Between Buttons. Entitled ‘Works Piano’ and released on June 30th, the four-track mini-LP showcases the fusion of acoustic sounds, computer programming and modern technology that will define the label.
The aim of the project is for German DJ, producer, live performer and Innervisions associate Henrik to step outside of his comfort zone; to write acoustic compositions in new, innovative and exciting ways.
He will do so by taking all the experiences, tricks and techniques he has from making electronic music and applying them to new acoustic sounds and instruments. Chief amongst those here is the Yamaha Disklavier, an automated piano that can be played manually but also automatically via a programmed script once it is connected to a computer.
“The idea is to deconstruct the piano,” says Henrik of this first release, which he says was a “real learning process” as he has composed it, in part, by writing code. He then gets an answer from the code that may be in another rhythm or key to his original idea.
All this plays out across four tracks that are composed in different ways. It means that as well as writing formal piano pieces, he is composing using software that sequences in response to his inputs. In turn, he reacts to these, edits and adjusts and goes where the music takes him, often to unpredictable places with fascinating results. Combining digitally programmed music with acoustic recording makes for sounds that are both human and analog yet estranged in ways that only a machine could conjure.
First up is a traditional and tender piano piece, ‘4011 Liter’. There is real dynamism in the keys, which marry heavy left hand chords with delicate right hand fingers dancing over the ivories. It is an absorbing, pensive track that really draws you in. Then comes ’Where Are We Heading’, which has a computer adding something of a rhythm below Henrik’s original piano. It makes for a compelling and rather dark duality between the low down and ominous pulses and his own rippling keys up top. ‘Confirm Humanity’ then makes use of a computer script that is reactive to what he plays. Once processed by the computer, it adds its own notes, shifts harmonies and abstracts the original inputs. The result is something lively and energetic, unpredictable and off kilter, with hypnotic vamps next to free flowing melodies, rippling rain drops next to dancing progressions. Full of fun and intrigue, it is a fascinating mix of old and new sounds and technologies.
Last of all is ‘Trappist-1f(loop)’, a sixteen minute drone piece made entirely from recorded piano sounds that have been stretched and skewed with enduring overtones all carved out via Henrik’s own microphoning and manipulation. With long chords, lingering notes and a real feeling of suspense throughout, it is music to zone out to and, like the record overall, is as beautiful as it is beguiling.
Between Buttons is part of the 7K! label network, the recent launched hub from !K7 for new classical music.