If we’re to think of ambient music as that which evaporates into the breathing air, circumventing space with the liberal flow of smoke, then Klavierstücke is the precise opposite: a thickening agent that turns air into translucent, anti-gravity gelatine, into which piano notes are embedded like shards of splintered wood. The record is not a stream of consciousness. It doesn’t settle upon my mind like dust upon a cabinet top, entrenching itself in my sensory environment. It’s an electric shock or a sudden dagger of sunlight through the window; a jagged imposition upon stasis, with every sharp, deliberate piano note – often on a dissonant angle to the one before – penetrating my world like a knife. Somehow, Clade’s playing style is both sensitive and irrefutably dense.
The air surrounding the piano is often clammy and oppressive, loaded with particles of microphone hiss and organ/synth noise passing like nearby motorway traffic. “Klavierstück V” sounds like piano writhing under constrictive bedsheets, trying to wriggle out from under a blanket of microtonal drones while in the panicked throes of nightmare, with hammered keys replaced with the unoiled whimpers and clunks of pedal mechanism. Yet the sense of destabilisation isn’t always unpleasant. “Klavierstück IV” is an optimistic proclamation, striding boldly between three chords to form a triangle of emerging epiphany – truths seamlessly interlocked, each announced in the boldest, most vibrant manner possible, penetrating the self-imposed humidity. I feel Clade’s thumbs on my temples, holding my head in place, forcing me to pay attention, watching a stereotypically placid instrument rain bowling balls of light and harmony upon my head. I hear details that I would have missed if given the freedom to break away.