2022 / Billibaberecords
Review by Kathy Parsons
Change is a gorgeous solo piano recording from German pianist/composer Marcus Loeber, an artist I have been reviewing since his 2004 debut, Songs For Emelie. Calling himself a "composer and addicted sound-finder for all kinds of media," Loeber is exceptionally versatile in his approach to his music, and several of his albums have been spontaneous improvisations.
Quoting Loeber about Change: "This album is very special, because I wanted to change a couple of things to lift my skills up to a higher level. I decided to include a producer into the composing-process. After sketching almost fifty (!) ideas, we sat down and started to write each track note by note. We 'destilled' eleven tracks to make this album. We also carefully sequenced the tracks into an order that starts with a kind of introduction piece as a status quo to then changing and reducing the way I play track by track. We end with the piece TRANSIENT, which is absolutely 'round,' quiet and reduced to a maximum."
Loeber also notes that the title, Change, has many meanings and that he wants his listeners to build their own ideas about it. The cover features a photo by German artist, Tom Fecht, and is titled "Lucifer's Vortex." Taken by the light of a full moon, "it describes the turbulences you have to go through when you want to change something."
Change begins with "Go," a very open, dreamy piece that feels freely improvised and expressed from the heart - an elegant but very accessible piece of musical magic! "Above" could be "about" many things, but it makes me think of a bright blue sky with wispy white clouds gently floating wherever they wish to go, in no hurry at all. The graceful and slightly mysterious "Eleven" has the feeling of a slow, expressive waltz - easy and effortless (the waltz, not the piece!). "Breathing In" has a very steady rocking rhythm on the left hand as the right hand moves freely around the piano keyboard - as easily as "breathing in." The title track is almost prayer-like in feeling, giving a sense of looking inward and expressing a deeply personal truth through the music. Not surprisingly, "Isolation" has a very solitary feeling - something we've all experienced over the past couple of years of the Covid pandemic. Hauntingly beautiful in its stark simplicity, the piece feels very profound. On "Minimum," Loeber makes wonderful use of the dampers to create an otherworldly effect. The actual notes are very spare with lots of open space between them, but the damper pedal keeps the shimmering sounds continuous without turning the piece to a muddy mess (I taught piano for 40 years and am far too familiar with the mis-use and over-use of the damper pedal!!! This piece is beautiful!). I really like all eleven tracks on this album, but I think "Mum" is my favorite. A compelling range of emotions is expressed in the music - from very dark to much lighter in spirit - flowing seamlessly from one to the next. Obviously a very personal and heartelt piece, it says far more than words ever could. "Transient" brings the album to a very peaceful and thoughtful close, allowing the last notes to fade out at the end.
I love it when I come to the end of an album and can't wait to hear it again - and again! Change is one of those albums! Change is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites including Spotify. An audiophile double vinyl version will be released in early 2023. Printed scores are also available. Very highly recommended!
November 4, 2022