Swedish pianist-keyboards player Alex Zethson – of Fire! Orchestra, Angles 9 and Goran Kajfeš Tropiques fame, realized in a «moment of realistic modesty» that most likely he will never live up to his old dream of being able to play Johan Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations the way that is at least close to the composer’s intentions and that pleases my own ears. Instead, Zethson decided to use the score of Variation no. 21 for exploring and (re)creating the residy, the remains of this variation. In this process, an extended variation of a short variation emerged.
Zethson structured «Residy» on elected 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 synthesizers and an E-bowed grand piano – and the transitions from chord to chord were worked out. «Residy» was recorded live at Gerlesborgsskolan near Stockholm on October 2021, with no overdubs.
Zethson says that he wanted to evoke a sense of uncertainty during his performance, coming from the feeling of not knowing exactly where the sounds are coming from. He wanted by that to establish sensitive, tactile and meditative spaces that can make him float and experience new sensations and connections. «Residy» is an enigmatic and quiet meditation on Bach’s lyrical narrative, where the piano is stroked occasionally and briefly only to add dynamic shapes to this light and atmospheric piece. «Residy» freezes Bach’s brief variation into an untimely drone with minimalist and very slow timbral variations as if Zethson’s wanted to stress that Bach’s variations and his own almost static variation on Bach’s variation strive for a timeless sensation and connection. Eventually, «Residy» is a highly immersive listening experience.
Alex Zethson (synth, p, e-bow)