Zoltan Fecso is a musician and composer based in Naarm/Melbourne, Australia. His interdisciplinary approach to sound explores the experiences of active listening. Zoltan's first major body of work centred on repeating single notes of various lengths to form ever-changing tonal permutations. These ‘Pointilist’ compositions were inspired by the post-impressionist painting movement of the same name. His first album in this style was released on Hush Hush Records (USA) and subsequent albums appeared on Shimmering Moods (NL), The Slow Music Movement (PT) and Whitelab Recs (UK). Zoltan’s body of work also includes sound installations, sculptures, ensembles, radiophonic works and podcasts.
Butterfly Hands is a piece for solo prepared piano. Although I’ve released a lot of guitar-based music over the last two years, piano was my primary instrument from a young age and is very dear to me. The piano in this recording is my childhood upright, which now lives happily in my home studio. When I started experimenting with prepared piano in mid-2020, I found a string of bells, which I arranged between the hammers and strings of the piano. The result brought out a gestural, textured playing style inspired by the shimmering intensity of 1970’s era spiritual jazz records by Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders. The hands are in constant motion throughout this piece, even during sparse moments, to lightly shake the bells or create soft impacts on the piano strings—hence the title Butterfly Hands.
A big realisation during the recording of this piece was the frame of mind I needed to be in, in order to perform it. I found myself losing concentration or overthinking/overplaying parts in early takes. Fatigue was another thing. If I wasn’t present in playing, my hands would cramp and get really sore. It was only when I approached the piece with clarity, presence and openness that I could play it in its entirety. I realised that I had trouble being present while performing, even though so much of my practice is informed by that very idea. I reflected on how I had felt when playing live in the past, on the inner voice that would tell me to ‘move things along’ or ‘make this more interesting’.
So much joy, fascination and connection comes from listening attentively to the world. In the writing and performing of this piece, I noticed a habitual disconnect from that state of listening, which I had to address.
The focus on performing can sometimes distract from deep listening. I'm interested in the moments where performing and listening exist as one.
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This has become one of the most important albums of my life. It’s essence is indescribable. Every sound from the start of the record through the end is placed delicately and with care. The album cover is by Julie Mehretu. It’s absolutely an incredible release for which I shall be eternally grateful. Aniket