Kucharz, Larry – “Piano Etudes: Imitations & Tracks” – [International Audiochrome]
This might look like a harmless modern classical record, but it scared the living shit out of me, maybe more so than anything else I’ve ever reviewed for KFJC, and that’s really saying something. I’ll explain.
Larry Kucharz is a classically trained pianist and minimalist composer who has been working in NYC since the 1970s and releasing music under his own label International Audiochrome. But I didn’t know any of that when I first put on this CD while alone in my apartment. The disc opens with a long piece of atmospheric synthetic strings (“Imitations 1”, T1), kind of a Badalamenti feel. The next track is the first in a run of four piano etudes, that focus on lively repeating figures (T2), slowly unfurling arpeggios (T3), dark waves rolling up and down the keyboard (T4), blinking broken chords (T5). The electro-orchestral ambience returns in “Imitation 2,” a more dramatic version of the first track that focuses on a descending scale (T6).
At this point I felt like I had a pretty good sense of what the CD was all about: a hybrid of traditional and electronic sounds in fairly traditional modern classical pieces. So when I wandered back into the living room during “U343” (T7), I thought someone had broken into my apartment and swapped out the CD for a different one. I panicked as a pulsing techno beat shook the floor, then became frantic that maybe I somehow fucked up the CD as the energy climbed higher during the drum-and-bassy “Highway 37” (T8), with its quick electric piano melodies like a distant reminder of the earlier piano exercises. I finally figured out, sometime during the final pachinko-core track (T9), that Kucharz got into electronica sometime in the 90s, bringing a classical influence to the pieces – T8 for example is inspired by Corelli. So don’t freak out like I did, and check out the many different styles featured on this album, as well as the others we have from Kucharz in our library already.