Wolfgang Voigt’s reputation is such that he can put out an album like Freiland Klaviermusik and not have his listeners wonder where the fuck he gets off. The Kompakt co-founder and pioneer of various micro-house and minimalist musickings is so well-regarded that he can afford a release that promises to challenge the listeners’ patience, and few, if any, will turn away in disgust. The very proof of Voigt’s authorship makes the album something worthy of consideration. An earlier EP version of Freiland Klaviermusik (released under the same name) revived the dormant Profan label in 2008. Those dumbfounded by the insistent, contrapuntal minor key melodies of that version are unlikely to be won over by these extensions, which are pretty much just continuations on a theme. These pieces have an aura that is creepy, cinematic, and claustrophobic. The perseveration in these tracks is offset by contrapuntal lines that escalate, cycle dizzily, bore into tedium, and/or captivate through simplicity. Unlike the austerity of, say, Voigt’s Gas or Studio projects, Freiland Klaviermusik is not designed to work under a simple formula. Instead, each piece seems to be trying to detach itself from its own starkness, yet holds fast throughout.
The downfall of Freiland Klaviermusik is caused by timbre, an unlikely suspect for an artist known for his studio time. The toy piano that drives each of these cuts is untreated and sounds just plain cheap. At his best, Voigt can transcend this distraction, but here it remains a pox on the album from start to finish, detracting from the good moments and making the poorer ones unbearable.