About the album
"Läuterung” (trans: “Purification") is an unusual term for an album title, especially when you know that Kellen Tryon Mills, the person behind this music, is American.
"Our guitarist explained to me what 'Läuterung’ means, and I liked the term as an album title," Mills stated laconically, shrugging his shoulders. "I wrote the music at the beginning of the Corona pandemic and although everything came to a standstill, I thought it was important to continue to be creative."
Mills comes from Seattle, plays bass and synthesizer, composes and produces and has become known with the prog-rock band Alex's Hand, which has released four albums and two EPs in its ten-year career. “After Alex’s Hand broke up, I began composing this music in 2020,” Mills explained. "For this, I recruited musicians that I already knew from other projects, but also new people that I didn't know yet. For me, it was all about who could best implement the music, which is why there are so many musicians."
Mills named the project after his middle name Tryon, and what happens on "Läuterung" is difficult to put into words. Pop, rock, jazz, avant-garde - everything seems to be happening at the same time and many of the songs work with complex rhythm changes and outlandish lyrics, which are interpreted by three singers. Most of them are sung by Erik Leuthhäuser and Ganna Gryvia, and the almost pop-style "Wooden Chair" is sung by Lela Frite. "I had worked with Erik before and therefore also composed songs with his voice in mind," Mills explained his choice. "He then recommended Ganna to me, because I needed a female voice for the other side of the album."
The wild mixture, played with sleepwalking ease by the sixteen musicians involved, encompasses a whole universe of musical influences.
"I really listen to almost everything, but I'm above all very interested in contemporary classical music: Stravinsky, Ligeti, Bartok, Schönberg", Mills first clarified first, and then continued: “However, I grew up with the music of Frank Zappa, which is why I'm also interested in rock and jazz. My music eventually became a mixture of all these elements, including improvised parts. But I also like to listen to pop music like Kanye West, Sia or David Bowie."
Jacopo Bazzarri, among others, provides for the truly zappaesque moments on marimba and vibraphone, but there are also a lot of skilled wind instrument players such as the saxophonists Toms Rudzinski and Omri Abramov and the trombonist Scott Flynn. "Of course, there is a reason why so many jazz musicians play on the album," Mills said, "because they not only can play excellently from sheet music, but also improvise."
Guitarist Ruben Bernges has a hell of a job, because his guitar is omnipresent on "Läuterung"; he dominates an entire sound universe from aggressive metal riffs to excessive solos and all the way to delicate acoustic passages. "I've known and appreciated Ruben for a long time, which is why he absolutely had to be part of this," Mills stated enthusiastically. "He plays in prog rock and metal bands, but has also studied jazz. He can also understand the most complicated music and that makes him so valuable."
Tryon has succeeded with "Läuterung" in creating an album that could only be produced in Berlin. "I came to Berlin nine years ago with Alex's Hand and found it very interesting here," Mills said as an understatement. "The improvisation scene in particular made me curious, so I stayed. There is a good mix of rock and jazz musicians here, as you rarely find them in the USA. The musicians are willing to deal with very complicated music and that's a mentality that fits with my approach."