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Max Clouth – Entelecheia

World, Jazz
  • Max Clouth
  • Marja Burchard
  • Maasl Maier
  • Kabuki
  • Bodek Janke
  • Tony Clark
Booking-Bereich: Europa

“Entelecheia” is the new album by Frankfurt guitarist Max Clouth and his personal “dream band” Marja Burchard on vibraphone and Maasl Maier on bass (EMBRYO), Kabuki on modular synthesiser, Bodek Janke on drums and Tony Clark on the Japanese bamboo flute shakuhachi.

The term entelechy (Greek ἐντελέχεια entelecheia) comes from Aristotelian philosophy and means “form realising itself in substance” – or also the property of something to have its goal in itself.

Musically, this thought is expressed in an uncompromising fusion: Ambient jazz rock, live electronics, erupting guitar solos, deep spiritual thoughts, world music elements, the whole thing is as big and colourful as if it came from the 70s and at the same time deeply modern, even futuristic.


Max Clouth

Max Clouth knows the rules. After studying jazz guitar at the Hochschule für Musik Mainz and the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber in Dresden, he went to India. He lived in Mumbai for three years and studied music there, immersing himself deeply in the country, its traditions and sounds. In 2017, Max Clouth received the Frankfurt Jazz Scholarship – the jazz prize of the city of Frankfurt.


“Fusion aesthetics also define the new album by the Frankfurt-born, world-traveling guitarist. Sitar (Tony Clark) and tabla (Bodek Janke, Shank Lahiri) interweave naturally with vibraphone (Marja Burchard), electric bass (Maasl Maier) and Clouth’s two-necked guitar.” Jazzpodium


Movement into the open
The tones of a shakuhachi flute open up gentle arches, lift into spherical expanses. Surprisingly, a vibraphone opens up shimmering spaces. Guitar sounds enter and continue the movement. Like a star sign rising on the eastern horizon, “Ascendant” moves into the open. The first track on Max Clouth’s new album Entelecheia sets the atmosphere for the whole work: complex chords, timbres that oppose, complement and sometimes fight each other, live electronics, erupting guitar solos, elements of Indian, Persian, West African music. Sometimes composed, sometimes spontaneous, playful and improvised. An album like a leporello, a picture cabinet.

Entelecheia is a term from Aristotelian philosophy and describes an individual who already carries his goal, his perfection, within himself. Both the inherent power of self-realisation and the completed state can be meant by this. The title fits the process of the album’s creation. Max Clouth explains: “I sketched out the pieces in advance – like a notepad with musical themes that are so free-flowing that there is room to bring in something of my own. The pieces only became complete through our playing together.”

Interplay of individuals

The bond that holds everything together are the people Max Clouth brought together for the album: Marja Burchard, Bodek Janke, Maasl Maier, Kabuki and Tony Clark.
“It’s my personal dream band! What fascinated me was on the one hand the instrumental qualities, but at least as much the people themselves and what then results from the balance of power between these different personalities.”

For a few days they were in a studio in the autumnal Black Forest: not an already existing band, but musicians:inside coming together for the first time – a jump into cold water that proved to be extremely refreshing.
“Unique energy, creative people, extraordinary mixture of sound, rhythm and melody”, says Bodek Janke, who was there with drums and tabla. For him, among other things, the mixture of acoustic instruments and the modular synthesiser was appealing. The latter is played on “Entelecheia” by the Frankfurt drum’n bass legend Kabuki: “I saw my role above all in countering the natural timbres and organic grooves with something mechanical, constantly repeating.”

Poetic Imaginations

Marja Burchard can be heard with santoor, vibraphone, Wurlitzer and voice. She appreciates “the freedom with which everyone could and was allowed to contribute to this album. Every single colour comes out so beautifully. Many of the colours I brought in are also connected to, among other things, my history – the group Embryo, which was founded by my father in 1969 and which I have continued since his death.”
Marja Burchard’s spoken word passages trigger images that – carried by the music – become poetic imaginings. For example, in Ascendant: “Flowing atoms, invisible clouds, feathers of air swinging above us. A breath.”

This breath is followed by “Amber Purple Gold” – a piece whose concrete, cerebral metrics, accompanied by the lightness of the vibraphone, lead into a contemplative space that Marja Burchard fills with a calm voice, like a prayer, a mystical invocation: “Floating Rivers, singing Trees, screaming Birds, whistling draught, fluttering butterflies, flying clouds to you I will dedicate my breath, give me the light and the strength, give me courage and trust to keep on breathing…”.

The title “Amber Purple Gold” was chosen by the synaesthetically gifted Max Clouth
“because for me it is the colours, the harmonies, the chords that play a role in the piece: A minor is amber for me, purple is G minor and C minor is golden.”
The tonal colours and shapes expressed could have come from a painting by the Swedish painter Hilma af Klint, to whom Clouth is close through the connection between art and spirituality. The cover of Entelecheia is inspired by her paintings.

Dystopia in the Krautrock tradition
If “Amber Purple Gold” seems like a tale from paradise, “Synthetic Stripes” appears as a reflection of the materialistic-digital zeitgeist. A dystopia in the Krautrock tradition. Marja Burchard composed the piece. Laconically, slightly enraptured, following a stream of consciousness, her voice sounds against the background of a towering interplay of modular synthesiser, shakuhachi and guitar: “Synthetic stripes are blocking my view. Plastic bags and white rooms. Coins are falling on the ground. Empty scraps of paper in my daydreams.”

Instrumental solos and lost snippets of lyrics flash until the track fades into a peaceful atmosphere. While the shakuhachi is usually associated with Japan, Zen and meditation music, Tony Clark takes it out of its traditional framework: “I tried to keep the depth, the spiritual power of the instrument, to express the essence of what I learned from my teachers and at the same time play completely different sounds, new compositions. The result is interesting for me; the melodies, the sound material doesn’t seem to be as important as the breath, the spirit.”

Electronic hardness and instrumental softness

“Emerald”, the fourth track on the album, was composed by Kabuki. Clouth’s guitar solos spiral over a stoic rhythm, bass figure and vibraphone set accents. A track whose repetitive foundation has something hypnotic about it, stretching the sense of time until its cool austerity is contrasted by a calm, flowing emotion in the final third. A new mental space is reached. Now the rhythm starts again, but it is now more heartbeat than machine.

With “Sadhu” follows a bright playful track in a calm atmosphere, carried by tabla and guitar. Then comes the track that gives the album its title: “Entelecheia”. An epic piece with a strong inwardness that combines electronic angularity and acoustic softness. Crystalline sounds float above percussion and synthesiser hatchings. As is characteristic of the entire album, several mood changes occur here. A daydream, a musical journey, which Marja Burchard magically depicts with a whispering voice.

The album closes with “Deszendent”, carried by the interplay of shakuhachi, vibraphone and guitar over an ostinato sequence of the synthesiser.

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