A very special project, dedicated to the memory of GOLDMAN mastermind STEFAN KRACHTEN
GOLDMAN live at the BLUE SHELL
„There is no such thing as a road map. Without firm plans or arrangements we enter the stage. So we play each piece only once in life. We just never find time to rehearse.“ (Stefan Krachten)
The album "... Live at the Blue Shell" is the culmination of a trilogy of publications with GOLDMAN live concerts of the years 2013/14. It is the fulfillment of one last wish: GOLDMAN mastermind and drummer Stefan Krachten died after a long illness on September 16, 2014. The recordings were taken only three months earlier during the band's last official appearance in the legendary Cologne live club BLUE SHELL.
The Charity Idea
The last weeks of his life Stefan spent in the Elisabeth Hospice in Lohmar, a place he had chosen a long time before. His bandmates were enthusiastic about the positively charged atmosphere and human warmth of the house so they spontaneously decided to donate completely any revenues from the sales of the album to the hospice. This way some money should be risen for the institution's future projects, to acknowledge the loving care Stefan had experienced during his stay.
Mixing and Mastering
"Without Stefan's express wish I probably would hardly have dared to start the work," says Thomas Kessler. "The respect of the emotions and memories that might bring up the image of Stefan concentratedly drumming next to me on stage appeared simply too great to me. But then, despite my fears, the intense dealing with these recent live gigs became kind of a grief coping. Stefan was back! Very present, very lively. It may be forgiven that I always mixed the drums a bit louder than usual..."
At the start of work a few conditions were quickly to be fixed. The outcome should be not more than 45 minutes of musical extract from the four hours of raw material, as much as a classic 12 inch LP can carry without bigger sound losses.
It had been clear from the very beginning, that this had to become a vinyl release. Stefan had preferred that recording method to all others and used to rave about the magic and unique quality of the medium. Yet another rule: "no overdubs", so no subsequently studio-added tracks. Otherwise: "The sky is the limit"!
The Concert Evenings (June 18/19, 2014)
Rolf Kistenich, owner of the legendary Cologne live music club BLUE SHELL and a faithful GOLDMAN fan from scratch, had provided his stage for two days to allow for the concert recordings. In advance, he had papered all over Cologne with posters and flyers, and vigorously beaten the promotional drum via his Website. With quite some success, as in spite of Germany being in full Soccer World Cup fever at that time the club was well attended on both evenings.
The Risk of Ultimate Failure
GOLDMAN was a band that "never rehearsed but played each piece only once in life".
The free intuitive, spontaneous invention of every single concert - without any ready-made compositions or arrangements, without any agreements - opened up the possibility of musical unique pieces created out of nothing, custom-made for the very moment, from the very mood of place and audience. These dialogues with the present always bear the risk of ultimate failure. Anyway - for the recordings for this album, the band courageously and consistently again entered into this gamble.
Otherwise, the whole thing would not have been possible: at that time our sax player Mel Collins was stuck in the middle of intense rehearsals for the forthcoming King Crimson US tour and was extra flown in from London, Helmut Zerlett was currently fighting the deadline of a movie score, so everyone was looking forward to a little relaxing variety.
At the BLUE SHELL our instant composing journey would lead us through a sound cosmos stretched between the poles of Cool Jazz, Dirt Funk and Progressive Rock. As an addition to the musical concept "with neither a safety net nor a double bottom" Stefan presented us five loops (short groove patterns from tape) during the soundcheck to which we should play. Despite all concerns of his colleagues, Stefan was adamant: the loops had to be!
The band took on the challenge of what later proved to be a stroke of luck: loop-based tracks have the advantage of being completely stable in time, they are not subject to the natural tempo fluctuations of a "freely" playing band.
Since GOLDMAN played with the same loops on both evenings, so with the album material we were able to create completely new combinations and blends: the Wednesday evening drums might play with the Thursday saxophone solo; bass parts, scratches and keyboard tracks of both concerts could be arranged side by side, and so on. Thus, the opportunity arose to conjure a special elixir from the most exciting moments of both evenings for "GOLDMAN live at the Blue Shell".
Thomas Kessler again: “This project means a lot to me. On one hand it is the very special story behind, on the other it is the marvelous results: with every listening turn during the intense mixing sessions I fell in deeper love to the contributions of my band colleagues. First of all Stefan, this one-of-a-kind drummer, with his sparse but steady pulse keeping everything together. And Mel, the soloist from some of my own personal all time favourite albums: Tears for Fears’ “Songs from the Big Chair” or David Sylvian’s “Gone to Earth”, just to mention these two. His saxophone lines - created in the very moment, to stay forever...
The work on the album took more than an entire year. It ended in a final climax with an unforgettable release concert, again performed by a line-up as unique and remarkable as the one of the original recordings: with Jaki Liebezeit and Rosko Gee we had a re-unification of the complete groove section of the legendary band CAN!“ 111
Rosko Gee, Helmut Zerlett, Hans Peter Salentin, Helian Schulte, Thomas Kessler, Jaki Liebezeit
Release Concert BLUE SHELL Cologne, Nov 13, 2015