I first met Nils after playing a concert in Berlin in early September, 2008. We had exchanged a few emails prior, in which we had agreed to swap some records in the mail. He came up to me after the show with a beaten brown package, which he had tried to post to me two times, but both times it was returned to him because I was out on tour when the postman tried to deliver it. At any rate, that night he handed me the package containing his first lp Streichelfisch and four cd-r’s of unreleased material.
Later when I was getting in bed at the hotel, I pulled out my discman and popped in a disc of his that was labeled »Tonalagia: Piano Improvisations«. I laid back and pressed play, thinking I would fall asleep to the sound of some nice piano music. But the sound I heard was more than just nice. It was absolutely breathtaking, and it kept me awake staring at the ceiling until the cd was finished. Then I pressed play again. I had to hear it again. I think I managed to drift off at some point in the middle of the second listen, but I remember thinking to myself as I lay there stunned, that I could spend ten years trying to write an amazing piece of piano music, and still it would never be half as good as these improvisations! The next day I wrote to Nils and told him that very thought, and proposed the idea of him contributing to the solo piano series on Kning Disk.
A couple months later, in mid November, I flew to Berlin to meet up with Nils and to witness the recordings of what was to become The Bells. We rented a beautiful old church in the heart of Berlin for two nights, with a wonderful old grand piano and the most amazing natural reverb I’ve ever heard. We set up (actually Nils did most of the work while I ran around the church trying out the huge pipe organ and harpsichord) two microphones on the piano, and three more out in the room to capture the sound of the church. And then Nils just played. I laid down on a pew in the middle of the big room and listened to his playing in the same position I had heard it for the first time, on my back, staring at the ceiling.
Occasionally I arose and asked Nils to amuse my ears by making him improvise with different rules I spouted out off the top of my head, such as »Make a song using only the notes c, e, and g« (this one will be available as a bonus download track), or »Make a song that you could imagine me rapping over the top of« (track no. b3). At one point I was even inside the piano, laying on the strings, asking him to make a song called »Peter is dead in the piano«.
Those two amazing nights in the church left us with five and a half hours of recorded material, and together Nils and I have compiled what we think are the best pieces into this 40 minute collection. The role I played in putting this album together was a very small one, and yet somehow I feel more proud of this music than anything I have ever created on my own. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.
February 9, 2009
This recording was made during the 13th and 14th of november 2008 in the Grunewald Church, Berlin.
Nils would like to thank Peter Broderick, Mattias Nilsson, my families, Arne Römer, Monique Recknagel, frøken Stjernestøv, Kheira Linder, Torsten Posselt, Andreas Bonkowski, Anne Ostsee, Sebastian Singwald, Josefine Störmer, F.S.Blumm, Greg Haines, Martyn Heyne, Ralph Etter, Susanna Lundgren, Frederic Gmeiner, Tjane Hartenstein and everybody who inspired and helped me to do this recording.
Special thanks to Peter Broderick. Without him I couldn´t have done this. Dear Peter, I am so glad that I met you! I just cannot thank you enough.
Special thanks to my father for the wonderful fotographs and to Mattias Nilsson for his wonderful work at Kning Disk and of course to the community of the Grunewald Church, Berlin.
- In the Sky and on the Ground
- I Would Like to Think
- Said and Done
- Dedication, Loyalty
- Down Down
- Over There, It’s Raining
- Small Me
- My Things
- Peter Is Dead in the Piano
- It Was Really, Really Grey
- Somewhere Nearby