THE WAY OUT IS THROUGH
The German-born, Czech based composer André Kellerberg is in strong favour of letting the music speak for itself. After four self-released projects, the musician has teamed up with the Italian label Blue Spiral Records to release in March 2020 The Way Out Is Through. Kellerberg describes it as a dystopian soundtrack, carrying through the sound of the piano the underlining message of the constant option to avoid failure. In the album notes, the composer gives an advice about recording: “When you book a studio for a day you want to make sure you are ready and prepared, because here time is really money.” Indeed, the recording process has been a challenge for the performer — including physical issues with his hands and an out-of-tune piano — and adds to the atmosphere of the album.
“And There it Is” is based on a motif that evolves in temper and quality, from peaceful to agitated. The imperfect sound of the piano as well as Kellerberg’s aggressive and percussive style of playing is well understood as soon as the piece reaches its conclusion. “Deep Breath” explores the contrast between the intentions of the composer — perhaps to bring some sort of serenity — and his contrasting performance, reflecting a sort of catharsis. “Nobody Noticed” explores the use of different instruments, including electronic ones, as well as the layering of piano parts over a simplistic and haunting harmonic trinity. In addition, “Honesty” develops the repetitive element introduced in “Deep Breath” and explores the concept of sheet of sounds, through reiteration. The aggressiveness of the performance, as well the fact that the piano was not tuned to perfection resulted in a particular chorusy sound, well exposed in “The Chorus of Desolation Blues” — although here, the expression chorus is meant in a compositional way. “Cracks in Flux” is an obvious second — the first one being “Honesty” — homage to the music of Frahm (namely “Said and Done” and “Hammers”). “Volcano” brings interesting harmonies to the album, and surprises with more impressionistic flavours, and “Beacon” is a suggestive piece, especially through the addition of the synth illustrating the flashing of the light. “On Thin Ice” surprises by its full use of electronic instruments — giving it a post-progressive rock underlining shadow, and represents one of the highlights of the album. Finally, “Of Laughter and Forgetting” finishes by going back to some of the ideas presented earlier, such as the wall of sound and continuous music.
Although some of the music sounds familiar, it is the approach of the performance that really sets The Way Out Is Through apart. Whether the musician’s playing — which he describes as intense, passionate, and not very tender — or the limitations of the context of the recording — which reminds the listener of other well know situations, such as the recording of The Köln Concert by Keith Jarrett. There are some elegant surprises, such as the penultimate track “On Thin Ice”, or “The Chorus of Desolation Blues”. The artwork, by Nico Fontana, was directly created in response to the music and acts as a very good illustrator to Kellerberg’s music.