4 Hands by Roedelius & StoryRelease date: January 28, 2022
Label: Erased Tapes
A young journalist, during an interview with B.B. King back in the sixties, makes this comment:
“Mr. King, your guitar solos sound so simple…”
B.B. King responds: “Son, that’s why they’re so hard to play…”
Whether this supposed anecdote is true or not makes any difference, one truth, in music for sure, stands – relying solely on ‘simple’ sounds is hardest if you want to come up with music that has merit.
To be able to do that, you really have to be a master at what you do, and Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Tim Story can certainly count as such, particularly based on what they jointly come up together on their 4 Hands album.
Roedelius was always at the forefront of genres he was involved with, whether it was the broad spectrum of krautrock, ambient or modern classical music. Tim Story is a modern classical composer who many new age fans also swear by, although he never himself crossed into the kitschy parts of that genre.
As the album title suggests, you got four hands involved in these intricate and deceptively simple performances. The sounds were recorded sequentially but on one and the same grand piano. Roedelius laid down a few impromptu piano études in May 2019 whilst visiting Story. Tim then learned all their intricate phrasings to add his own parts in the following months.
As story explains, “Together we shaped the basic compositions, sometimes carefully preparing the piano with various materials (including my own hands), and Achim’s performances were committed to tape. I continued to compose and refine my parts in the following months. Because it was all recorded on the same piano, the result has a very appealing consistency of sound, and hopefully blurs our individual contributions into a single integrated voice.”
As those familiar with both artists might have expected, the results are nothing less than exquisite, showing why some acoustic piano albums work, and others don’t.