One of the funnier moments I’ve experienced as a music lover came just about 30 years ago. Brimming with excitement, I brought a John Cage CD I’d purchased over to play for my girlfriend’s big brother. “It’s composed for prepared piano,” I beamed.
This was ill-advised. I was entirely incapable of describing what prepared piano was at the time. Information – particularly of the esoteric variety – was a precious commodity in those pre-Internet days. The CD failed to deliver a primer on prepared piano and so my attempt to look like the coolest guy in the room had the reverse effect.
Köln-based Max Würden’s lovely new disc Momentum brought that crimson-faced experience to mind when I read about how he treats his guitar. “[H]e sticks screws and metal pieces between the strings or let’s marbles run down the guitar neck, triggering a feedback, which becomes the foundation of a track,” according to the album’s notes.
The result is thoroughly absorbing. While Würden’s guitar is always front and centre, it’s often bathed in various ambient sounds and treatments. On tracks like “Remote,” we get gentle, easy strumming.
Others, like “Parallax” and the nearly 11-minute “Equilibrium,” present new ways to appreciate the instrument. The guitar performances are always recognizable. But it’s also easy to be carried away by these compositions, to a place where instrumentation matters less than feeling.
Würden has been making music since right around the time I bought my John Cage CD. During his career, he’s produced soundtrack recordings and designed game sounds along with producing beautiful ambient discs like this one. He remains a prolific, important talent.