The Squid's Ear Magazine

Zethson, Alex: Residy (thanatosis produktion)

The Residy, or remains of a unique variation on JS Bach's Goldberg Variation no. 21, performed live by pianist Alex Zethson who maintains the structure, rhythmic movement and note order of Bach's composition, while dispersing the notes and intervals into two synths and an E-bowed grand piano to evoke these meditative and expansive interpretations.

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product information:

UPC: 7320470260432

Label: thanatosis produktion
Catalog ID: THT16
Squidco Product Code: 32375

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: Sweden
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Gerlesborgs-Skolan, in Hamburgsund, Sweden, on October 16th, 2021, by Mikael Werliin.


Alexander Zethson-synths, piano, e bow

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The music on this album is a variation on a variation, the Goldberg Variation no. 21 by JS Bach. In a moment of realistic modesty, it struck me that I will probably never live up to my old dream of being able to play all the Goldberg variations in a way that's at least close to the composer's intentions and that pleases my own ears. However, I reckoned, perhaps I could use the score of one of the pieces as a foundation to build something else. Exploring and at the same time (re)creating the residy, the remains of this variation, and in this process letting a new variation emerge.

I built chords based on selected notes from each bar of the piece, but kept the essential structure and retained the note order. The notes and intervals comprising these chords were then dispersed across three sound sources - two synths and a E-bowed grand piano - and the transitions from chord to chord were worked out. I didn't want to eliminate the rhythmic movement inherent in the original piece, but rather to reimagine the accents and pace. A few strokes on the keyboard were added to create some shape, dynamic and timbre-variation. I notated the pitches, but freely treated the length of the notes.

This album consists of the live recorded version of the piece, made without overdubs. Using the three above mentioned, closely related sound sources, the recording builds on my works creating presence-evoking uncertainty during performances. By creating/enabling sound milieus where performers (myself included) are not entirely sure exactly where the sounds are coming from, I'm trying to establish sensitive, tactile and meditative spaces that can make me float and experience new sensations and connections. I hope that the listener can also enter that space when they listen to this album."-Alex Zethson

"It's probably a sin, but I am not too keen on the music by Johan Sebastian Bach, so his 'Goldberg Variations' is not something I heard or registered. The two parts on Residy by Alex Zethson on the 21st variation, and I can safely say that it sounds not like the original. Zethson is a man with a background in jazz and improvisation, but this work is all about drones. He uses an ebow, piano and synthesizer. The cover text provides a lengthy explanation about selected notes, which I won't repeat here. When he says so, I believe him and can enjoy this all the same. The first part is twenty-one minutes and the second close to fifteen, but for all I care, they could have been twice this length. A stroke on the piano signals the start and finish of the piece, and also in between a few times, to change "shape, dynamic and timbre". These are beautiful pieces of drone music. Best played at a moderate volume so that tones linger modestly through time and space. This might not be your typical meditative drone music with occasional strokes on the piano, breaking the gentleness, but I enjoyed that even better. It made for an exciting change in the traditional drone field, which is always most welcome. Slow and majestic music in which the original inspiration is no longer heard. A great adaptation!"-Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

Get additional information at Vital Weekly

Artist Biographies

"Alexander Zethson has completed the bachelor performance programme in jazz at KMH and is currently studying at the second year of the master's programme with Lisa Ullén as his primary instrument teacher.

Alexander has participated in extensive concert and tour activities and has participated in fifteen record productions. The ensembles include:

• Niklas Barnö's free jazz group Je Suis!• A number of tours in Europe with Martin Küchen's group Angles 9

Alexander is also active as arranger and pianist in collaboration with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, a cooperation which began in 2011. Zethson, Sofia Jernberg and Lene Grenager has arranged music from Hallingdal and Røros performed by the TJO with Zethson, Jernberg and violinist/Hardanger fiddler Olav Luksengård Mjelva."

-KMH Royal College of Music in Stockholm (

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Track Listing:

1. Residy, Part I 21:34

2. Residy, Part II 14:47

Related Categories of Interest:

Compositional Forms
Piano & Keyboards
Ambient & Minimal Music
Sound, Noise, &c.
Piano & Keyboards
Solo Artist Recordings
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
New in Compositional Music
New in Experimental & Electronic Music
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