A Union of the Analogue and the Synthetic

21. April 2019
Lennart Richter

After a warm welcome and short introduction by the host of the night Martin Kohlstedt entered the stage to perform one of the first concerts of the 2019 installation of Jazzkaar festival at Vaba Lava concert hall. The German pianist and composer started off the presentation of his highly dynamic repertoire on the grand piano before turning towards a Fender Rhoades stage piano and a Korg MS2000 synthesizer. Augmented by a multitude of effect pedals and a loop station the presented material reached intense moments between tender melodies, brutally distorted sounds, and sequencer beats. Kohlstedt managed to seamlessly go back and forth between his instruments and thereby create a synthesis of acoustic and synthetic sounds.


The first piece of music was a mash-up of what Kohlstedt calls “modules”. These modules have three letter names such as GOL, EXA, and KSY – pretty much meaningless placeholders – enabling the audience to discover the meaning behind the music themselves. Kohlstedt merges his modules on stage through improvisation and therefore combines and presents them in a new way each performance. He accomplished that at Vaba Lava in a very captivating and enthralling way. Moreover, the light show subtly complemented the musical part of the evening. A combination between traditional stage lights and an LED screen lay the foundation for an interplay between different colours. This helped to emphasize the struggle between seemingly antagonizing acoustical and synthetic instruments and rounded off the whole experience. The concert entailed five extensive pieces and lasted a little over an hour. The repertoire was comprised of pieces from the latest album Strom (2017), but also older material including compositions from Kohlstedt’s youth.


The audience received the concert very well. Even though the hall was only about three quarters full the crowd cheered and applauded extensively so that Kohlstedt even had to come out and play an encore. Afterwards the composer and pianist, who had initially come off as shy and introverted while on stage, was hanging out at the merchandise stand signing records and taking photographs with enthusiastic fans. Conclusively the concert was worthwhile and managed to build up an appetite for more piano music that will be presented over the course of the festival.


April 20, Vaba Lava

Martin Kohlstedt (Germany) – grand and electronic piano, synthesizer


See concert photos here.