Maxx Discusses "New Classical" -

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Now Playing "Passionata" From "New Classical"
Musicians, as most people, come as various types.   Some spend their lives following a narrow musical track, rarely deviating from the area they work in.  Think of those bands who release a third album which sounds much like the first.

But others, such as Maxx Silver, can follow up Electroclash and Pop (still Maxx's main area) with an album of mostly, ahem,  piano music and classical music.

So, Maxx, tell us about this change in style...

"Well I was originally trained in classical piano up to Grade 8. I used to perform some pieces at a friends house, and she really liked them, this led to doing a few local performances. 
So I decided to record an album of classical music that I had written.
 I suppose the style is similar to  piano music written between 1830 and 1900... It is very melodic, not discordant.  But  I also wanted
 to have  more experimental aspects to the production.   With the addition of some more synthesised pieces it is a varied collection"

On "Empty Room", the piano is recorded with the microphones right next to the hammers, it makes for a different and disquieting atmosphere, and then other effects appear, including samples. It is then quite experimental in its middle section.  There is a beautiful edited (2 minute) version on You Tube.

"That piece was recorded at my Dads' house. The idea was to try and reflect that in a now empty room, and while he is gone,  the memories remain.
 It was am improvised work, I didn't know what I was playing before I played it, save for a tune I had in my head.  

You are hearing my thoughts translated into to music in real time as in most of these pieces"

Its very beautiful and melodic,  with a darker middle section. 

  "Summer Dreams" is another nostalgic piece, mores structured,  with a stunning video shoot on location at Lake Como, Italy which you can see on You Tube. 

On "Sundew"  Maxx performs with "The Labyrinth Orchestra"  It is a slow, reflective almost "New Age" piece which also seems initially  quite fragile and atmospheric but builds to a real climax with horns and strings.  

"I love Sundew!" he says, " it is the "single" for the album so it is quite simple.   Probably the only single I will do that is 20BPM as I'm normally 100 more than that!"

On the full version of  "This Must Be The Cure", the synths are less orchestral, more Vangelis.  Its a passionate and dramatic piece.

"Classical Hip Hop is not a term often used, but the idea was to integrate mechanical elements
 into up to 16 separate parts to create an impression of a ferry boat on a lake surrounded by mountains. It works for me but it was a slow burner, took well over a year to write and complete that piece.  It took me over 200 attempts to mix it"

However I prefer the intimacy of piano pieces such as "Passione"  which are more successful as pieces -  though you tend to wonder when the passion will happen, its a slow start Maxx!

"The original piece was going to be about fog. Whilst improvising it I suddenly went in a different direction as I ran out of anything to say about fog!  So it just evolved to this slow burner piece that builds as it goes along.  
It builds tension which then resolves itself...!
The climax (the only word to use! ) of "Passione" is one of the most beautiful moments of music you will hear, ever, featuring three piano parts and a synthesiser backing that sympathises rather than intrudes, ascending like a rocket into the sky only to plummet back down to earth at the end.

The piano used in this album is a 1904 John Brimsmead, Maxx says
"That was the British Steinway.   They have not been made for  years now. It has a particular sound, very bright and very expressive.  This piano has been with me, all my life. Its a relief that at the age of 110, this lovely piano still retains its tuning.  The album reveals the many facets of this instrument"

"Austria, Piano Sonata" is a piece that should on the Proms.  It uses every note on the piano and during its 10 minute progress covers glaciers, waterfalls, dancing Austrians and a thunderstorm.

"I wrote that as a young teenager,  I was listening to Beethovens Pastoral Symphony at the time which influenced it a bit.  I still find it hard to play, it is a proper concert piece.  
If any concert pianists are watching you can see the manuscript!   At one point on the recording you can hear me almost fall off the piano stool but I could only do so many takes on a 10 minute piece
 to get it right.  There are two other movements that I may releas at some point.  In the third movement the piano gets drunk!"

This album is an interlude for Maxx, he is back with more Electronica and is currently working on his next album.  Tell us about your plans for 2015 Maxx

"Well I have decided to complete the album first and then do live performance work, starting in Summer this year and there is some amazing
stuff  yet to be released.   We have just realeased  "Brimstone"  and another track  called "I'm Not Awake".

"I'm Not Awake" is a haunting, affecting piece, coupled with a video with an image of a ghostly figure, sitting in a beautiful setting.

Maxx says "The video was filmed in Castle Vezio Italy in part and they have "wraiths" there.  Basically if you cover yourself in chalk you get a plaster cast of the outside
of your body and let it dry out then the inside is where the person was. This is then allowed to be worn away by the weather.  The song is about the spirit going on in the afterlife. 
It is actually more a song of hope, than anything, but  quite heavy but I love the song as it is completely different, nobody else does music ike this ! it is a piece of music written for its own reasons only and it brings comfort to me"

The video is beautiful, and makes you think about life.  Pictures of lightning, a bird of prey, a wraith, a series of statue, and then dinosaurs.  All of these metaphors.  The song
itself is doom laden at the start with the heavy piano, but is uplifted by the percussion and the guitar solo at the climax, and also by the fast pace of the piece. It is a true original piece of pop avant garde you must hear.
 So tell me more about the new electronic album Maxx?

"I want it to be my best album and it is looking that way, I liked my debut "Silverado", to me was good but "Shades of SIlver" was a bit patchy.  So far it is going SO well
as musically and lyrically it is very multi layered.   

If it has to have fewer tracks to be better overall then so be it really.  And it takes as long as it takes These days there are too many fillers on albums, I reckon make it shorter, and punchy, and put only the great tracks on it!

But in the meantime, explore the very melodic and varied depths and heights of  "New Classical"  and change your perceptions of the genre of Classical Music, I know they changed mine!

Interview Copyright 2014 Philippa Russell
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