Burning Men: Chilly Gonzales, Malakoff Kowalski, and Igor Levit

When the hair on your arm is in a state of permanent erection and your eyes become instantly wet, you know you’re experiencing something extraordinary. In this case, it was the ménage à trois of some of the greatest piano artists of our time at the prestigious Rheingau Musik Festival: Chilly Gonzales, the fierce musical polymath, Igor Levit, the courageous classical interpreter, and the epitome of lyrical, Malakoff Kowalski. Continue reading

Solo Piano III: A Triad of Life

Tomorrow is the day we have all been waiting for: Solo Piano III will finally be here. Fortunately, we were at the premiere in Geneva. Unfortunately, Gonzo didn’t play the full album – however: Fortunately, the few pieces made my soul rejoice. Unfortunately, the Ostinato made me aware I’ll never ever reach heavenly Aretha’s voice. Fortunately, Gonzo gone Beast for a minute, played the drums like the most freakin’ Muppet. Unfortunately, my amateur rhymes are just a rapper’s spit turned into foam. Fortunately, this idea here killed the white paper syndrome. Unfortunately, “Fortunately, Unfortunately” was the first and only “Soft Power” song he played live in ages. Fortunately, it’s a (re-)start – those pieces belong to the stages.

I know this sounds much better in its original form, but it expresses what the whole concert made obvious: Gonzo embraces his whole oeuvre like never before. The upcoming album is not only a sign of the times, but a statement from a musical humanist. 

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Room 29 Premiere: The World in a Hotel Room

Reflections on Perceptions and Projections

We are in Hollywood. At one of the probably most legendary hotels of the world. The Chateau Marmont. People famous and ordinary have come here for decades to escape, take drugs, love, hide, fuck, destruct or even kill themselves. A vanishing beauty, whose charm has survived, but whose facade fades. Zoom into Room 29, where Chilly Gonzales makes the piano, which has been there for decades, tell the tales of times long passed, and where Jarvis Cocker translates tunes into deeply resonating words – into a reflection on perception. We are at the stage and album premiere of contemporary song cycle Room 29 at Hamburg’s Kampnagel.

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Gonz’ Summit: Swiss Bliss in Lucerne

I’ve been heavily addicted to Chilly Gonzales’ music for almost ten years now. It’s my mood booster, pain killer, soul balm and sometimes it just triggers the sweet state of melancholia. If I lived in the US, they would have probably tried to make me go to rehab. I’m glad I’ve stuck to this drug, because its quality has never been better, its taste has never been more well-rounded and the effect has never been more immediate, long-lasting and impactful than today. And I have proof for this assertion: If you manage not only to sell out a concert hall like beautifully purist KKL in Lucerne, but also to make people jump off their seats and honor your performance with standing ovations in the middle of a show, you have finally made it. Even more, if that happens in Switzerland – Zwingliland! Continue reading

Close Encounters of Octave Minds

Sometime in 2015, an Audi arts initiative called Zeitgeist Symbiosis selected Teufelsberg in Berlin as the first location for its launch of a new platform for creative experiments, and on September 3rd, the first musical guest to perform in the series were none other than Octave Minds: the collaborative namesake of Chilly Gonzales and Boys Noize. The event was recently re-broadcast on FluxFM and subsequently made available on the Zeitgeist Symbiosis website. Continue reading

Chambers: The Montreal Concerts

Montreal is practically founded on the principles of faith, salvation and resurrection, and sitting high on the side of Mount Royal are two reminders of these tenets: Mount Royal Cross and St. Joseph’s Oratory. Strolling by Mount Royal on Avenue Parc, one can’t help but notice the 100-foot tall steel cross looking over the citizens. Originally wooden, the cross has been updated, replaced, and retrofitted over the 372 years since it was first erected by the founder of Montreal (Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve). A quick walk from the cross lies St. Joseph’s Oratory, which contains a chapel where one can find thousands of canes hanging off a wall overlooking thousands of candles. The canes were left behind when St. Joseph’s founder, Saint André Bessette, used his faith and healing powers to cure thousands of people of their ills. Continue reading

The Shadow: A Modern Incarnation Story

As the old story goes, was the word in the beginning. Then God created day and night, and divided the light from the darkness – or the light from the shadow. It is also the word, “logos”, that disturbs Faust in the famous study scene and it is a shadow, that has turned into a man, turning the proverb “a man, a word” into “a man, a shadow”. The Bible, Faust, Narcissus, Freud and many more influences emulsify in Hans Christian Andersen’s dark fairy tale “The Shadow” that Chilly Gonzales and his long-time friend and cohort Adam Traynor have brought on stage as an amalgamation of a live silent movie and a paper cut come alive. After the premiere at Hamburg’s Kampnagel, it is part of Schauspiel Köln’s repertoire until October. Continue reading

The Sorcerer’s Apprentices – Berlin Edition

Chilly Gonzales fans are passionate people. They either run a website dedicated to his works, apply for a lesson by the Maestro himself with incredibly witty and funny videos, or they start playing the piano – just because they love his pieces so much. Others queue for hours to enter Kulturkaufhaus Dussmann in Berlin and witness his Masterclass. In the end, only 200 make it inside. While waiting, one of them stated something obvious, yet easy to be forgotten: “He sells out Europe’s concert halls – it is special to be part of something that intimate tonight.” Continue reading

Gonzales: Montreal Re-Education

I play my own music, so I have a direct line to the composer; I know what his intentions were.” – Gonzales on interpretation

My son and I were fortunate enough to be part of the sold-out Masterclass lecture at the ‘old and modern’ Centre Phi in Montreal on June 2. The Centre Phi lies at the edge of old Montreal just West of McGill St., not far from where Montreal was originally founded. Old Montreal is unique in that a large section of the original city was preserved, despite pressure over the years to make way for modern buildings and roads. It’s an uncharacteristically hot June day, but the walk down shady cobblestone-lined streets is very pleasant – the old buildings still releasing the winter’s chill that was stored deep within their stone walls. Some of the buildings in old Montreal date back to the 1700s (ancient by North American standards) – a time when the Little St. Pierre River met the mighty St. Lawrence River. Old versus new, historical versus modern, the pressures of North American culture flowing beside a bastion of European value. A city situated on the confluence of two cultures seems like the perfect place to host an entertainer who deftly marries old world craftsmanship with new world sensibilities like no other. Continue reading

Two Sold-Out Shows: London Celebrates The Pianobull and His Best Pieces

Chilly Gonzales is on everyone’s and especially the cyberpeople’s lips at the moment – thanks to two guys in robot costumes. So it didn’t come as a surprise that prior to his two London concerts last week, Cadogan Hall was filled with whisperings, if he would at least partly play his song from the forthcoming Daft Punk album. He did. And everyone with a Beethoven-esque brain could actually even hear it – with their mind’s ear. Since he only let his fingers silently touch the keys, which was visible for everyone via the giant screens under the rededicated church’s ceiling and stretching from one side of the stage to the other. Continue reading