Pianist Clemens Christian Poetzsch has always known what he wanted from music – freedom. Freedom to improvise, to create new musical worlds, and to follow his instincts wherever they take him. And while his collaborative releases and acclaimed solo piano debut – 2016’s People & Places – marked him out as a special talent, new album Remember Tomorrow sees him embrace the role of modern composer, letting the full range of his musical abilities run free to stunning effect.
As a child in Dresden, Germany, Poetzsch received his first piano lessons from his opera singer grandfather, and was soon immersed in the world of Bach, Schubert, and Clementi. But aged ten, a birthday gift from his father – a sheet music book of Frank Sinatra standards – opened his ears to wider musical possibilities, and he was soon playing in the bar next door to his house, improvising and messing around with the structure of songs. Such formative experiences stayed with Poetzsch through his classical training at the Conservatory of Music in Dresden. While studying piano and composition, his spare time was spent playing in jazz and free improvisation bands with friends and colleagues – he gigged, toured, discovered electronic music, and soaked up as much knowledge as he could. And so what started out as mere fun and a desire to seek out “environments where I could surprise myself” started to inform his music more and more.
The result is Remember Tomorrow, an expansive collection of thirteen songs that stand as self-contained worlds; “a house with thirteen rooms, and every composition is a little room,” says Poetzsch. Music stirs up memories and fragments of remembrance too, and Remember Tomorrow is an attempt to make sense of it all, of bridging that gap between the past and the present. To do so, he stepped out of his comfort zone, adding new elements and instruments to his compositional mix, and simply let his ideas bloom.
His approach to experimentation, as with collaboration, is simply to dive in and see what works, to discover through trial and error. Ditto with electronics and his use of samples; despite admitting that he’s no expert, the austere, monochromatic moods he captures are far more important than any technical proficiency or purity. It comes back to freedom – to create without restrictions, and to dissolve preconceived notions around genres and instruments.
And so Remember Tomorrow is Poetzsch’s first step away from the staid world of concert halls and a classically harmonic language towards something more contemporary, more individual. “My goal was just to take the next step as a composer, and to form a language out of electronics and piano. That’s the best language I can speak.” He’s taken everything he knows – from those Sinatra standards through Bach and more contemporary influences such as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Aphex Twin, and Winged Victory For The Sullen – and distilled it all into a very special record that’s testament to ignoring conventions and letting your intuition guide you down the correct path.
by Derek Robertson