To celebrate the imminent release of The Days Within, the first Vert album since 2008 (and in an attempt to boost my woefully neglected social media presence) I'm running a POTLATCH.
potlatch |ˈpɒtlatʃ| noun (among North American Indian peoples of the north-west coast) an opulent ceremonial feast at which possessions are given away or destroyed to display wealth or enhance prestige.
Over the next few weeks I'll be giving away all my previous albums, one at a time. To get each album, you need to do one of the following:
Each week you just need to do one of those things to get a free download code. This week's album is:
The Köln Konzert
The first Vert album, released in 1999. One of The Wire’s top albums of the year; one of Pitchfork’s top discoveries of the following year. The Köln Konzert is a glitchy refactoring of Keith Jarrett’s classic that I composed for the first gig I played in Cologne.
When Frank Dommert invited me to come over and play at The White Noise Bar in 1999, I knew I wanted to do something special. The idea of doing a version of The Köln Concert started out as a joke, but the more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me. I put it together in a last minute frenzy, pulling out fragments from the original which I played on the piano, and then covering them in drones, noise and rhythms.
The cover notes claimed that it was a live improvisation, but I actually took those notes from a jazz album, just replacing every occurrence of the "Miles Davis" with "Vert":
Throughout jazz, there has always been a fundamental problem: to get the music onto the disc without losing the vital spontaneity it has when you are there, while the artist is creating. This is the thing about live music - when it is right, you have the overwhelming feeling that at every moment there are more imminent surprises, more immanent delights. Is is this quality that caused Jan Thommert, a longtime student of jazz music, and a longtime listener to Vert, to say that live music should be heard only once - when it is played.
But the special quality of Vert is to overcome this very real thing that Thommert was talking about, and to breathe into his mooseic that kind of life that lets you hear it anew every time. We may listen to this album enough to memorise every nuance, but it still sounds fresh. I don’t know what does this, I don’t know how Vert achieves it, and I doubt whether even he knows. All I know is that it is there. “An artist is never ahead of his time, but most people are far behind theirs,” Edgar Varèse once said. Here’s yr chance to catch up.
I never could figure out whether I loved or hated Keith Jarrett. I guess you can hear that on this album.