FMP/FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION - An Edition of Improvised Music 2009

FMP CD 134

Thomas Millroth


Feelings and melody

Blindly is what they say if you see without eyes. The well-known is rediscovered, fundamentally different every time. Music doesn’t move forwards, rather it stumbles on blindly. This is the only way to experience new things. Peter Brötzmann has always been courageous in this respect. He has hardly been a modernist in the traditional sense. And yet he changed the music several times. One could say, he stood up for it. By 2006, Brötzmann already has a long history. I recognize his tone. But not always how the tones are interconnected. His material is changeable like a piece of clay being constantly worked on. It requires a certain kind of courage. In improvised music it was at one time the thing – as in the abstract visual arts – not to play melodically, not to tell stories. Brötzmann’s music has always been full of melodies. Fragmented, mixed, coloured by the whole world, but always as gentle stories, whispered in spite of their volume.

The melodies have changed. Maybe they were fragments. Like the ones of Novalis. Today these fragments are still present, worked through and restructured. More synthetic you could say. This is an interesting line because nowadays melody and Improvisation are more and more reunited. Brötzmann has always done this. Why? His music has holistically to do with ‘feelings’. This is why he has never denied sentimentality. He has given an entirely new, more genuine meaning to it. From the surface he has gone on to the core.

Peter Brötzmann is an old fashioned modernist, something which would have been impossible to write thirty years ago. But that’s what he was even then, even though at that time you were either old-fashioned of modernistic. The modernist was against the establishment, ie. against the old-fashioned. It is no longer like that today. Instead of this we speak of ‘Postmodernism’. Or of Contemporary Art. And what does this mean? That art and music keep in time with time. There are no more directions in art, only ‘trends’. The old-fashioned modernist defies conformism. There is no space for banality in Peter Brötzmann’s music. He rids the music from old habits. Time and again.

Translation: Isabel Seeberg & Paul Lytton

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