website: uwe-gronau (dot) de
KEYBOARD MASTER UWE GRONAU CREATES THOROUGHLY MODERN MUSIC
When any kind of artist creates an artistic endeavor that is new and different than what has come before, it is hard for the public to grasp it, understand it, appreciate it and thoroughly enjoy it. It usually takes repeated exposure to the art for it to sink in enough to become somewhat familiar, and eventually patrons can make the decision as to whether they actually like this new style. This is a long way of saying that German keyboardist Uwe Gronau has a new CD out (VISIONS) that needs quite a few listens to be fully appreciated. Of course you can sample a few excerpts for free online or hear a tune or two on non-commercial radio, but if you like what you hear, you really need to get the full CD and let it play at least four or five times to start getting a handle as to what his music is all about.
It’s not that his music is outlandishly strange or plink-plunk avant-garde. His original tunes are in the two-and-a-half to four-minute range. Some have straight-forward melodies and others are more ambient (some of these have either very subtle melodies or what you might call “hidden melodies”). Some of the ambient tunes do have strong rhythms, either synth-beats or a drum-kit sound. Gronau’s overall sound is rooted in the European synth school, so, yes, there have been plenty of others in the same general realm his music inhabits. It is just that he does it so well, seemingly so effortlessly, creating little hymns to the modern world that get inside your head and won’t let go. Not “catchy” in a pop sense, but insinuating nonetheless. There are frames of reference. The tune “Traffic” has a bit of the old feeling created by fellow German act Kraftwerk (remember their “Autobahn” 35 years ago?) and then Gronau also seems to use Kraftwerk as a jumping off point in the next piece, “Under the Pont Neuf.” “Night Visions” is space music along the lines of Tangerine Dream. “Ragman Talking” has synth and organ solos worthy of Rick Wakeman or Keith Emerson. “A Passion Play” has a bit of the feel of Pink Floyd’s instrumental passages including an electric guitar part (apparently by Gronau, perhaps created via synth) reminiscent of David Gilmour.
Despite the glimmers of sounds from the past, VISIONS is very much modern music for the contemporary world and even pushing into the future, perhaps showing us what we will be listening to in decades to come. Some electronic futuristic music makes me uncomfortable, sort of bothers my synapses or my sense of what music should be or what it should do as it affects me. Not so VISIONS. Gronau has the unerring ability of making unusual-sounding music that feels like an old friend. One moment the synth is floating high above and the next it is grinding along in low gear showing the amazing depth of this modern-world instrument. Gronau proves a master at getting the most out of synthesized keyboards and creating a soundtrack for our daytime activities but also for our night dreams.