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Abandoned City"It's a joy to listen to, and one of the
brightest, most invigorating records
I've heard all year." - Pitchfork
"It's as infectious and disarming as it
is genre-defying." - Mojo
Hauschka is a composer, songwriter and experimental musician who
has brought an exciting new perspective to the prepared piano - a
technique for getting new sounds from the acoustic keyboard by
resting pieces of paper or drumsticks on the strings of the instrument.
Abandoned City was recorded in Hauschka's home studio in a burst
of creative energy following the birth of his first son. The songs were
recorded using nine microphones. Six recorded the sounds coming
from the piano strings through an analogue console feeding directly
into a computer to preserve the instrument's full, warm sound. Three
others passed the tones through a mixer full of effects - delay,
distortion, echo - that can be triggered separately or used
simultaneously. Hauschka creates the music and the arrangements
as he goes, trusting the music to take him in the proper direction.
"Most of the songs were played on one piano; I was mixing as I
played. If I needed more piano, I overdubbed with another twiddling of
effects. All the sounds - harp, balafon, Melodica, drums - are
produced by the keyboard," Hauschka explains. The compositions on
Abandoned City awaken the loneliness and unattainable romance of
timeless, unfamiliar places, with cinematic melodies full of resonant
overtones, bright cheerful keyboard patterns and dark percussive
touches. The tracks all bear the names of actual vacant cities.
Hauschka chose Abandoned City as the title of the album to convey
the sense of hope and sadness that consumes him when he's sitting
alone at the keyboard. "I was interested in finding a metaphor for the
inner tension I feel when I'm composing music, a state of mind where
I'm lonely and happy at the same time," Hauschka professes. "When I
saw photos of abandoned cities, I felt it was perfect. People once lived
there, but they left in a rush and now nature has taken over in a
beautiful way, things are growing up from the sidewalk and the
seasons are changing colors. The music is dark, but in a quiet,
uplifting way. The piano is singing the melody but, because of the
effects, you can't hear it directly. It's like the sound of a choir under the
earth, something you feel without realizing it."1. Elizabeth Bay
3. Thames Town
4. Who Lived Here?
6. Sanzhi Pod City
9. Stromness$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Sketches (Pre-Order)Classically trained pianist, violinist, producer, and composer, Poppy Ackroyd turned heads in the neo-classical world with her previous works Escapement and Feathers, as well as her involvement in Hidden Orchestra (Tru Thoughts). Advocated by giants of the genre, Hauschka and Nils Frahm, the unique musician has returned with a mini-album to be released on Bjork's label One Little Indian Records.
The songs serve to reintroduce listeners to Ackroyd's most stunning pieces from her previous albums, all of which have been reworked into 'acoustic' solo piano arrangements alongside four brand new unheard pieces, which offer a taste of a new forthcoming record.
The record, aptly named Sketches, due to its stripped down nature, is bejeweled by thematic undercurrents - birds are the inspiration for three of the tracks, which are to be released together as the lead singles from the album.
'Birdwoman' and 'Glass Sea' feature field recordings of birds and the ocean, recorded on Brighton Beach and North Rona respectively. 'Feathers' is the title track of my second album Feathers says Ackroyd, discussing the theme of birds.
'Feathers' is a piece about hope - 'Hope is the thing with Feathers' (Emily Dickinson), 'Birdwoman' is a reworking of a piece I originally wrote as a soundtrack to a silent film based on a Siberian folk tale, and 'Glass Sea' attempts to capture the feel of a boat trip I took to the remote islands of North Rona and Sula Sgeir, North of the Outer Hebrides. The ocean was unusually still, reflecting the sky like a sheet of glass, but the sky became busy with birds as we approached the islands.
Ackroyd is a keen collaborator, having created soundtracks for film, dance, physical theater and radio. The artist won a BAFTA for an animation soundtrack that she wrote and performed in 2015. Through studying contemporary classical piano works and listening to electronic music, Ackroyd developed a unique compositional style, using contemporary pianistic ideas whilst also inhabiting the world of sound beyond the keyboard, using unconventional techniques to 'play' other parts of the instruments as well.
Talking about the recording of Sketches, Ackroyd said: The songs were recorded just outside of Brighton at Retreat Studios, close to the sea on the edge of the village, surrounded by hills, fields, and wildlife. As if by magic, it began to rain just before I began to record the track 'Rain', and ended shortly after I finished. You can hear the rain build and then die away with the music on the finished piece.
I have loved creating this solo piano album. There are normally all these layers that I use to create a world of sound, that I love to build and sculpt, but there is something really special about communicating simply through the instrument alone. With other layers there is always something to hide behind, with only the piano you can just focus on your technique and expression, everything feels very audible and exposed and that is very exciting, especially in a live context.1. Resolve
8. Glass Sea
10. Trains$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed PRE-ORDER Buy Now
What IfSince 2004, Volker Bertelmann - aka Hauschka - has, steadily earned a remarkable reputation as a purveyor of imaginative, distinctive, prepared piano music. On What If - which finds him adding player pianos (also known as pianolas) to his arsenal - Bertelmann expands his range even further, defying expectations and delivering what is without a doubt his most ingenious album yet.
While engaging with his trademark technique of utilizing unusual objects - art erasers, for example - to treat (or 'prepare') the piano, Hauschka also programmed parts for player pianos, exploiting the speed at which they could play, manipulating the resulting sounds, and building layers to emphasize a composition's meter.
What If aims to provoke reflection beyond the musical sphere with the titles of the both the album and its individual tracks. Overflowing with haunting melodies, mysterious sounds, and complex patterns, What If crowns an extraordinary couple of years for Hauschka. Likely to prove one of 2017's most original albums, What If redefines the very notion of piano music in dramatic and exceptional fashion. It stands as a rebuttal to those who lazily shoehorn Hauschka's work into the so-called, uncomfortably broad 'new classical' category, and instead underlines his status as a unique and invaluable artist.1. I Can't Find Water
2. Constant Growth Fails
3. My Kids Live On Mars
4. I Need Exile
5. I Can't Express My Deep Love
6. Nature Fights Back
7. Familiar Things Disappear
8. Trees Only Exist In Books
9. We Live a Thousand Years$22.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
A NDO C Y"Hauschka's ingenuity to rework his instrument into a entire orchestra is astounding." - CMJ
"Inspired concept, superlative execution." - Uncut
Last year Hauschka (aka Volker Bertelmann) released
Abandoned City, an album of stately prepared piano pieces
inspired by forgotten locales that have been left to retreat
back into nature. It was a gorgeous, uniquely evocative
album that drew universal acclaim and elevated
Hauschka's reputation as an elite modern composer.
A NDO C Y is a continuation of the Abandoned City story,
told as a tale of two sides. Side A features five tracks
conceived during the Abandoned City sessions, a suite of
songs that together form an exceptionally resonant whole.
As with Abandoned City, these songs owe as much to
minimalist techno as modern composition, which makes
them particularly conducive to remixes. On Side B,
experimental folk icon Devendra Banhart distills
Abandoned City standout, Agdam, to barely-there,
fractured clusters of solitary piano strikes and swelling
synths. By comparison, Eluvium's transformation of
Stromness sounds almost shockingly euphoric, all
cascading waves of distortion washed over a plethora of
plucked piano pings.
Included as a special bonus download is a stunning live
album recorded in Yufuin, Japan in late 2014. The
40-minute performance is split into two 20-minute
improvisations built on themes from Abandoned City. It's a
gorgeous glimpse of live Hauschka, a world where songs
you think you know become entirely new works of art at the
mercy of Bertelmann's whims.1. Hashima Island
2. Palace in the Sky
4. North Brother Island
5. El Hotel Del Saito
6. Agdam (Devendra Banhart Remix)
7. Stromness (Eluvium Remix)$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now