Digital-only albums are almost becoming a “no filter” endeavour, if not easy to define genre, in themselves — this is a rather beautiful work by the prolific and woefully underknown in the UK anyway Russian master Simon Nabatov who is far better known about on the German scene, and without any fear of exaggeration is one of the world’s great improvisers.  
Motivation he succinctly describes as: “My first attempt to come up with an entire program of pieces for piano and live electronics. It has a suite-like form, with certain motives [sic] reoccurring throughout. The dialogue between solo piano and electronics also concentrates on the motivic aspects of the material, at times more so than on the sonic aspects — hence the title of the album.” 
Recorded live at Cologne jazz club, “space”, might be a better word, Loft, seven months ago, you do get the paradoxical sense that this is an internal conversation and the piano and electronics take on the mantle of protagonists who share and or debate their experiences.  
The electronics are the more severe, testing voice, the piano the sensitive gentler side. But make no mistake this is not a soft lulling album full of twee resolution and comfortable certainties which often happens in solo mainstream settings and become one of the faultlines of that style when bossas and lullabies tend to stand in the space reserved for tender thought but prevent real adventure given the road block of sentimentality in the way. Nor is this a daft “anything goes” scattergun free-for-all approach that can bedevil the world view and outcomes of hardcore improvisers. 
Nabatov is not about either. The Russian-born master turns 60 in a few weeks. He also does not fit into any commercial orthodoxy which means he may not sell a lot of records but certainly in his laboratory of ideas is left to find an original path.

The very intimate duo album with Nils Wogram Moods and Modes back in 2011 was the last album of Nabatov’s that I actively listened to and thoroughly enjoyed, however, Monk n More released in 2016 compares better to this latest work not least because it also embraces electronics, had some Nabatov originals along with the Monk explorations, and was recorded in the same Cologne environment which he returns to often.  
What Nabatov is successful at here is accentuating the abstract sense of “free” — open structured improv — which is the area that he mostly resides in. I would compare him to Misha Mengelberg most in certain key aesthetic respects (while regarding the electronics side of the improvising or the piano-electronics duality think of the sound approaching a Craig Taborn method perhaps). Nabatov, it is very obvious, however, has his own very poetic accents to his meditations at play and above all Motivation is a detailed and involving meditation that has a vision that will send you into a dreamworld of discovery and enlightenment like no other.

Stephen Graham