It is a rare occasion to find on the electronic pages of No More Division anything that resembles a solo pianist playing ambient neoclassical compositions. There has of course been plenty of post rock and electronic albums which have graced the ears of our reviewers over the years, however nothing so austere as the modern day composer Thomas Kudela. German born Kudela, who now resides in Denmark, doesn’t perform under his own name. Instead he uses the moniker Sternlumen. If my math is correct this translates roughly to “strict light.”
Thomas Kudela began to write the songs which would eventually make up his eponymous debut effort Sterlumen after an unexplained seven-year hiatus from the piano. According to Kudela he didn’t begin to play the piano again as much as he began to rediscover it with an intimacy of rekindling a former romance that had gone cold.
But from the very beginning of Sternlumen Kudela makes it effortlessly noticeable that the passing of time has not worn down his chops. And like a rekindled love affair there seems to be a raging battle between Kudela and his piano in which both seem to let out their past aggressions yet in a way that is carnally human. For that is the way that Sternlumen plays out.
The opener “Großstadtkosmonaut” begins with a brooding and dark feel, from the keys we hear the flashes of doldrumatic anger and flits of fierceness. But soon the tune takes a beautiful turn, sounding like a conversation that between two people that are hashing out their past woes. Next comes the harrowing and stormy sounding “Thomas Is Deconstructing A Dream From His Memory” a modernist and enthralling tour de force of brilliantly styled keys. Here, without words, Kudela plays with the motifs of darkness and light, taking tones effortlessly from high to low, creating seamless bridges. As he touches the keys it seems as though people, characters perhaps, are speaking to one another with tones instead of words.
We get a lovers interlude on the classically beautiful “Yellow Red Skies (En Morgen På Christiania)” and then are treated to the dark and stormy embrace of “Die Letzte Nacht Des Kapitals.” Kudela shows off his masterful chops, playing with a phantom of the opera intensity on the high styled closer “My Mind Is Not Where I Am But Should Be.”
With Sternlumen Thomas Kudela has made a brilliant return to form. He may have been away from the ivory’s for a bit but his chops are spot on. Sternlumen is a record that will shine with listeners for years to come.
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