Today a composer/sound artist currently located in Berlin. His music is based on sound manipulation created with acoustic instruments and field recordings..... N'joy
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Field Rotation was founded 2008 by the electronic music composer and producer Christoph Berg in Kiel, northern Germany. Experimenting with electronic and classical elements this project combines floating soundscapes with electroacoustic colours to create minimalistic soundtracks renouncing of visual..
As this is yet another artist that shy's the limelight and thinks it not done to have a somewhat decent biography at his website we'll have to make do with this 'oversight' an interview he gave..
Hey Christoph, it was nice finally meeting you in Berlin during the Denovali music festival. How long have you been living in Berlin and how do you like it?
The pleasure was mine! I’m still impressed that you made it to Berlin just for a (cold) weekend of concerts, music and shopping for vinyl. I moved to Berlin one and a half years ago and actually I didn’t regret that decision for a single day yet. The city is so special and absolutely different to the place I lived before. I think that it would take more than one life to visit all the bars, venues, clubs, galleries, museums – and it would surely cost a fortune as well.
Sometimes when I listen to music it’s hard to tell whether it was played live or sourced from another source. Watching you perform live opened my eyes to the fact that you actually play piano and the stringed instruments How long have you been playing and are you classically trained?
I’ve been classically trained on the violin since my childhood and played a lot of classical music: solo concerts as well as being a member of several chamber music ensembles, string orchestras, youth symphony orchestras and festival orchestras. My (serious classical) piano lessons started relatively late but with a higher intensity then as a teenager. I later joined a Big-Band (that focused on Funk and Soul music) as the piano and organ guy. Looking back like that makes me wonder how I got all that managed or whether I’m just getting old…
On your latest release, ‘Fatalist: The Repetition of History’, you invited Aaron Martin to play the cello. How did this collaboration come into play?
As you know, Aaron is a really experimental and open-minded musician whose music I enjoyed a lot over the past years. When I worked on this last album I was in the need of some low strings and some experimental techniques and always had his specific cello sound in mind for some parts of the album so that I just decided to shoot an email over to Topeka to check whether he’d be up for that – and hell yeah, he was! He delivered even more fantastic stuff than I originally asked for. It’s so brilliant to work with him and I’m looking forward to presenting a split release with Aaron later this year.
So is there a particular separation in your mind from the works that you record under your Field Rotation moniker versus your real name?
The main separation lies in the intensity of using electronics, I’d say. I’m trying to work with nearly no electronics and effects on my chamber music project under my born name, composing music that I can perform as a one man ensemble through just looping myself on stage. The Field Rotation moniker is a project that is sort of a personal musical playground without borders or limitations. So one day it can be a weird drone piece, the other day I’m coming up with some electronic stuff and then again electroacoustic music with classical references.
You’ve released albums on Fluid Audio, hibernate, and now Denovali – how do you decide which label to work with?
The decision which label to work with always depends on my gut feeling and whether the ideas of the label and myself can be connected in a way that makes sense for both of us. Usually it’s not only my decision, both parties have to agree. But so far I really can’t complain, I even made new friends that way!
I would say that your music is very melancholic, and it is why I connect with it deeply. Is there a particular atmosphere that you try to capture with your sound?
This is a really tough question. I don’t think that there’s a particular atmosphere that I try to capture with my work in general. But every single piece (or regarding “And tomorrow I will sleep”: the complete album) aims to picture something. I really like the idea to give myself a theme to work on. A theme perfectly serves as a frame. And I often need a frame to make sure that I’m not losing track of the original project. But I would agree that my music – at least mostly – is very melancholic. Sometimes it’s intended, sometimes it’s just happening.
I know that this may be an open-ended question that is hard to fulfill, but could you briefly describe your process of composition?
If I had a certain process of composition it would be much easier to describe. But it always depends on the project, the complexity of composition and also the grade of patience I have. So it’s very rare that I’m sitting down to score an idea first. Especially since I had to find out once that there was nearly nothing left of the original score when I finished the project. Also writing scores can be very time-consuming so that I’m sometimes afraid of just forgetting parts of my idea before I was able to capture it on paper. That’s why I preferred to directly record my ideas lately. This way also produces a lot of rejects but then again these can be used for some weird effects, samples, pitches, stretches or clicks and cut material. In my opinion it’s the most economical way of production if you are able to recycle stuff that otherwise would have been a complete waste of time and energy. Once a project starts to take shape I usually have to put it aside for a while before I have an idea how to continue or how to complete it. Then again, I still have a composition for two pianos in the drawer for years now that needs an orchestral transcription and certainly some adjustments and additions here and there. So in a case like that scoring is an essential part of the process of composition. I wanted to start working on that transcription this or next year, we’ll see. Maybe I’ll have much more to talk about when this work is done…
Who and what are you influenced and inspired by?
This may be another open-ended question actually so I’ll try to keep it short and without dropping names as this possibly would be endless. I’m may be mostly influenced by all the pieces I had to work on for my violin and piano lessons and all the symphonies and orchestral works I played as a member of the various ensembles and orchestras I already mentioned before. It always was a very detailed work, to know every single note, how it fits to a phrase and how this phrase is then connected to the piece as a whole. This working method heavily influenced me – not just regarding the way how I compose and perform music but also regarding the view I have on music when I’m just listening to it. The only exception seems to be that I’m not really caring about virtuosity anymore.
And lastly, can you tell us what have been working on lately?
I already mentioned that I’m currently working on a split release with Aaron Martin that will be released later this year. Furthermore I won’t work on any other new things than collaborations and remixes for a while due to time issues through my daily job that won’t allow me to focus on a complex and time-consuming project like a new full length album.
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Field Rotation presented one of the most perfect albums of decade. Beautiful electronic glitchscapes with various acoustic elements. Field Rotation is a project with a rare sense of elegant beauty. The subtle classical threads that twine through these digital arrangements imbue the music with a dignity and grace that immediately lifts Licht und Schatten above the norm. The melodic content is relatively minimal, yet these sparse soundtracks are highly emotive, heavy with atmosphere and most inviting. Melancholy acoustic guitar hangs over heaving synthetic pads in melodic calm, whilst in other passages tense string swells ebb and flow in dramatic shadow. Plaintive piano and transmission fragments alternate with string snatches upon a bed of sonic breeze, the crunch of footfalls rises and falls behind days-end glow, faint arpeggios morph across rhythmic electronica. Once the understated beats roll in, the music almost sighs at times with a restrained serenity. Click-ridden scratchy rhythms and soft crackle adorn the more regular beats that drive some of the recordings, some pieces have no beat for the most part or none at all. Licht und Schatten has an otherworldly quality about it, a sublime soft focus warmth. Most pieces have a gentle solemnity, a wistful nature - that beautiful sadness that tugs at the heart.
Field Rotation - Licht Und Schatten(Light and Shadows) (flac 369mb)
01 Abendrot 9:09
02 Polarlicht 11:00
03 Lichtermeer 6:45
04 Lichtbrechung 7:09
05 Mondfinsternis 8:29
06 Tiefflug 9:14
07 Schlafwandler 5:16
08 Schlafwandler (Tagträumer) 4:27
09 Mondfinsternis (Zweiter Teil) 4:12
10 Polarlicht (Nordlichter) 2:40
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"Christoph Berg built this world throughout a two-year period, with the stated aim of integrating the literary traits of Kafka and Hemingway into an auditory form, seamlessly blending cinematic character with a subtle and mature melodic personality".
Acoustic Tales is the first of two album released in 2011 by German producer and composer Christoph Berg, best known as Field Rotation. Although 2009 Licht Und Schatten technically could be considered as Field Rotation's first album, Acoustic Tales is to be the artist's first full-length, with the follow-up, And Tomorrow I Will Sleep, being released just a few months later. Field Rotation's music is usually downtempo and minimal, exploring textures, moods and atmosphere in a very abstract way, reminiscent of artists like Jacaszek and Murcof. The music is not devoid of soul and warmth, but it does its best to hide it. Acoustic Tales is a notable exception.
Field Rotation present eleven "acoustic tales" to us, compositions in which his love for classical music is explored for the first time on record. The album feels more like a classical-influenced album with electronic influences, than a electronic record with classical undertones. Does it makes a difference? Well, if you are put off by the "electronic" tag, this album does not really sound like one, despite the use of occasional samples, synths and sparse loops. The focus is on the acoustic elements of the music --piano, string instruments, organ--; the electronic bits are mainly used for texture and for enhancing the atmosphere. The records sounds modern and experimental, yet the focus is on harmony, progression and timbre, making it clear how well Berg understands the spirit behind the classical composition style. He is not only capable of creating electronic music, but also can write music for different instruments (be it synthesized or human-played) and make excellent arrangements. "Acoustic Tale 4" features a great performance by cello player Danny Norbury, but what makes the composition so fantastic is the delicate and tasteful arrangement, the way Field Rotation manipulates and gives the track its final form. He is not trying to break new ground as much as to create a delightful record that flows smoothly and evokes a sense of a serene, contemplative beauty. The music is slow-paced and keeps the rhythmic elements to a minimum, but now and then Berg knows how to introduce a little tension and a dramatic feel, making the music feel very human, even fragile at some spots. This is a trait that is practically absent in other Field Rotation albums and is very welcome on here.
Acoustic Tales is an intimate record that is best enjoyed alone and undisturbed, letting the beautiful soundscapes to be appreciated with all its subtleties and in complete detail. Despite the melancholic tone that dominates the work, the final impression is that of an overcome pain, this serenity of mind, a sense of being in peace with this world, looking at everything from the distance. This music is never forceful: it asks for a passive, silent surrendering, but once you gave in, it closes the doors around you and deservedly demands your complete attention.
Field Rotation - Acoustic Tales (flac 319mb)
01 Acoustic Tale 01 (Introduction) 8:27
02 Acoustic Tale 02 5:16
03 Acoustic Tale 03 4:20
04 Acoustic Tale 04 (With Danny Norbury) 7:16
05 Acoustic Tale 05 8:43
06 Acoustic Tale 06 6:35
07 Acoustic Tale 07 (Inspired By Franz Kafka) 4:53
08 Acoustic Tale 08 (Dedicated To Sergei Rachmaninoff) 5:06
09 Acoustic Tale 09 7:26
10 Acoustic Tale 10 6:19
11 Acoustic Tale 11 (Appendix) 4:13
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Sombre, soporific ambient compositions by Kiel, Germany's Christoph Berg. As Field Rotation Christoph's sound sweeps from the melancholic chimes and stereo drift of the title track to gloomier, more haunting spaces redolent of Thomas Köner enriched with heavy-hearted strings on 'A Dimly Haze (Asleep Pt.1)', while 'Shoreline (Adrift, Dreaming)' is full of new dawn promise defined by his shivering, dewy string arrangements. Deeper in, the darker aura of 'A Dimly Haze (Asleep Pt.2)' briefly recurs, before the gravity defying suspension of 'Slumber' and the LP's defining piece, an expansive tract entitled 'Swayed By The Wind (Awakening)'. For fans of The Boats, Fennesz, Tim Hecker…
Why Things Are Different presents a three-part, twenty-minute suite comprised of acoustic instruments, field recordings and electronic processing. The Hibernate label has become a go-to resource for music of this ilk, and Why Things Are Different provides a fitting elegy for one of the label's sub-strands. Introducing this short-form triptych, 'When The Clouds Clear' hovers with an air of warmth that suggests a brass sound source; rich, horn-like tones extend across the piece before a more brittle, digital sound begins to strobe across the stereo field, lending a slightly psychedelic tremolo effect. Second piece 'Never Build A Bridge Into Nothingness' arrives swathed in jets of hiss, before coarse distorted passages swoop in - much in the vein of Fennesz or Tim Hecker. Occupying a vast frequency range, set closer 'Sleepless' hovers magisterially over nine-and-a-half minutes, booming with sub-bass presence and a strange, almost inert minor key sensibility. It's a huge, drifting slab of sound that finds Berg in fine voice, fashioning something comparable to the discerning drone sculptures of Celer.
Field Rotation - And Tomorrow I Will Sleep (flac 246mb)
01 And Tomorrow I Will Sleep 7:46
02 A Dimly Haze (Asleep Pt. 1) 12:33
03 Shoreline (Adrift, Dreaming) 5:01
04 A Dimly Haze (Asleep Pt. 2) 3:08
05 Slumber 3:13
06 Swayed By The Wind (Awakening) 17:07
Why Things Are Different (EP)
07 When The Clouds Clear 5:56
08 Never Build A Bridge Into Nothingness 5:03
09 Sleepless 9:31
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