Take the Keys

Kurt Fischer takes his piano on a sonic journey

Max Martinson, photos by Andrea Paulseth

IT’S THE PIANO, MAN. Kurt Fischer’s first album, Soundscapes, starts with piano, then modifies that sound with effects and  other electronic instruments.
IT’S THE PIANO, MAN. Kurt Fischer’s first album, Soundscapes, starts with piano, then modifies that sound with effects and other electronic instruments.

Kurt Fischer’s first album, Soundscapes, is the result of a 40-year relationship with the piano. Recorded entirely in Kurt’s home studio, the instrumental album features solo piano, synthesizers, and drum machines, supplemented with the tasteful use of various effects on all of these instruments.

“I really enjoy getting creative with using a classic piano or keyboard sound, then modifying that sound by applying effects and mixing in other electronic instruments,” Kurt said. While some of his important influences come from the classical and new-age genres, it is hard to categorize his new album; it’s more of an inter-genre experiment that touches jazz, classical, new age, electronica, and many nuanced moments of spaces in between.

With song names such as “Movement of Winged Creature,” and “Flow with Peace,” the tracks are very intentional with what they’re trying to emote. Each song has a dynamic sort of arch, and as a result of thoughtful composing, you are taken for peaceful ride.

Soundscapes definitely has an eclectic style, and a variety of interesting influences. For example, the opening melody of the track “Shine While You Live” nods to the most ancient complete example of written music.

There is a range of artists that are influential to Fischer, and while he’s successfully developing his craft, he is humbled by the music of new age artists like George Winston and Nils Frahm, as well as classical virtuosos such as Debussy and Chopin. “I’m trying hard to work on my craft,” he explained, “but listening to them reminds me of how much harder I need to work.”

When you listen to a song like “Breathe in Air Space Repetition” you can’t help but notice the shifting layers of sound, fueled by a pushing, pulsating rhythm. When you examine it closely, you find that surface clarity of feeling in the music is the product of complexity in the undercurrent. That’s no easy feat. While he remains humble, the culmination of musical elements in these songs proves just how hard Kurt has worked to develop his craft.

If you like the album, you’re in luck because Fischer has already written 80 percent of his next album, which he hopes to record at Pine Hollow. He also plays keys for Irie Sol.

Kurt will be performing songs from Soundscapes in the Volume One Gallery, 205 N. Dewey St., on Friday, July 21, at 7pm. Before that time comes, be sure to listen to his new album and take notes.

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