Feb 4, 2018

RhoDeo 1805 Sundaze

Hello,

Today's Artist is an independent experimental musician based in Düsseldorf, Germany internationally recognized as a 21st century exponent of prepared piano technique, a tradition dating back to late 19th and early 20th century French composer Erik Satie. The piano is prepared when "preparations" (consisting of nearly any conceivably applicable object or material) are inserted between the strings or onto the hammers of the instrument; a wider application of the term takes in all manner of additional modifications that expand the sonic and operative possibilities of the piano. Hauschka has successfully combined the chamber music aspect of prepared piano (see composers Henry Cowell, John Cage, Christian Wolff, Max Richter, Maurice Delage, and Arvo Pärt) with pop, rock, and electronic sensibilities ........N'Joy

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Volker Bertelmann was born in Kreuztal. He grew up in the village of Ferndorf in the district of Siegen-Wittgenstein, North Rhine-Westphalia. The fifth of six children, he discovered piano playing at the age of nine at church service. He first began to study the piano when he was nine after an epiphany while attending a Chopin performance in his hometown near Düsseldorf, Germany. Despite seven years of classical training at school, and then a further two years with a private tutor, his interests were never as pure as the tutelage he received. Soon he was employing his new musical skills to play along with his favourite records on keyboards and synthesisers – he had a particular fondness for Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds – and, later, to perform with covers bands. After coming of age, he redirected his attention towards a medicine and economic education, but soon turned his back on this to study Popular Music in Hamburg.

By the age of 18, Bertelmann had already composed his first film score, and having picked up a deal with Sony Music in 1994, he spent much of the next few years rapping and playing keyboards with God’s Favourite Dog before forming Nonex, with whom he released two albums in 1997 and 1999. As the 21st Century got underway, he hooked up with Torsten Mauss to form Tonetraeger – who blended post-rock and electronica with significant panache – and also with Luke Sutherland (Long Fin Killie) and Stefan Schneider (To Rococo Rot) to work under the name Music A.M.

It was during this period that he became more and more fascinated with electronic music, developing a particular interest in stripping back anything that he considered redundant within his compositions, until the obsession led to him trying to achieve a similar effect without the use of electricity at all. He discovered that placing material within a piano opened the doors to a whole new sonic world in which he could transform his instrument so that it loosely replicated the sounds of all sorts of others, whether bass guitar, gamelan or the hi-hat cymbal of a drumkit.

The first fruits of this work were released by Karaoke Kalk, with Substantial dropping in 2004 and The Prepared Piano a year later. The combination of Hauschka's classicist training, chamber music sensibilities and pop-cultural interests ensured that the often playful – but never disposable – results were far more than an academic exercise in experimentalism. Critical acclaim was matched by respect from his contemporaries: a second version of the album – Versions Of The Prepared Piano – was released later that year, featuring new interpretations and mixes by the likes of Barbara Morgenstern, Mira Calix and Tarwater.

Hauschka's music might be said to reference (inadvertently perhaps) all of these aspects of the prepared piano equation, and he could even be regarded as a conceptual cousin of Denman Maroney, Erik Griswold, Sylvain Chaveau, and Anthony Pateras. His playfully repetitive constructs, which certainly reflect the influence of Satie, are also at times reminiscent of early keyboard works by Philip Glass or something from out of the minds of Terry Riley and Steve Reich. His best work suggests the achievements of Frank Pahl, Pascal Comelade, Yann Tiersen, and Henry Brant as well as the self-perpetuating modalities associated with gamelan.

In 2007, Hauschka signed with 130701, an imprint of Fat Cat Records, who provided an early home to Sigur Rós and who have also championed artists with a similarly adventurous spirit to Bertelmann’s own, including Max Richter and Sylvian Chameau. He has remained with the label ever since for his solo work, releasing a series of increasingly high profile albums and never afraid to explore beyond his initial parameters. Since 2007’s Room To Expand, he’s integrated both electronic and more traditional instrumentation into his work, with 2010’s Foreign Landscapes finding him working with the Magik Magik Orchestra, and his most recent solo release – 2011’s Salon Des Amateurs – inspired by his experience of Düsseldorf’s club music scene. Collaborators include drummer Samuli Kosminen (from Iceland’s Múm), Calexico’s Joey Burns and John Convertino, and celebrated violinist Hilary Hahn, while the project’s success was underlined in 2012 with the release of remixes by prominent names including techno legend Ricardo Villalobos and Michael Mayer, co-founder of Cologne’s highly influential electronic label, Kompakt.

Bertelmann’s taste for collaboration is again revealed by his next two projects, the first of which features Hilary Hahn in a more high profile role. Silfra, released by Deutsche Grammophon under the artist name Hilary Hahn and Hauschka, is a remarkable album borne of improvisation and recorded in eminent producer Valgeir Sigurðsson’s Iceland studio. A new album is also in the pipeline, with Bertelmann having recently spent time recording with local musicians in Kenya.

Ever prolific, Bertelmann has continued to work on numerous other projects throughout the last decade, most notably in the fields of film, theatre, dance and art. As well as various short film soundtracks (including one for the winner of the 2007 Akira Kurosawa Short Film Award, Blotsky, in which he also starred) and four film scores – including Doris Dörrie’s Glück, nominated for Best Film Score at the German Film Prize in 2012 – he has also composed for the stage. There his work has included 2006’s remix of Wagner’s Parcifal (in collaboration with Stefan Schneider) for Berlin’s Hebbel Theatre, while in 2011 he composed an 18 minute overture for Rittberger’s Puppen, part of the 2011/2012 theatrical season at Düsseldorf’s Schauspielhaus. He also founded Düsseldorf ‘s Annual Piano Approximation Festival, which features an always-imposing line-up of internationally renowned experimental artists.

Hauschka collaborated with San Francisco's Magik Magik Orchestra on 2010's full-length Foreign
Landscapes, while 2011's Salon des Amateurs featured members of Calexico and Múm. Bertelmann returned the following year with Silfra, a collaboration with violinist Hilary Hahn that was inspired by Iceland's Silfra rift. That year, he also composed the score for Doris Dörrie's film Glück. For his 2014 solo album Abandoned City, Hauschka used some of the world's most famous ghost towns as a metaphor for the "sense of hope and sadness" he feels when composing music.

2015 saw the release of A NDO C Y, a collection of Abandoned City outtakes and remixes, as well as the live album 2.11.14. Bertelmann then focused on scoring work, providing music for dance performances such as Swan of Tuonela, which found him collaborating with Finnish circus performer Ville Walo. His film music included scores for 2015's The Boy and 2016's In Dubious Battle and Lion, a collaboration with Dustin O'Halloran that earned Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. The eighth Hauschka album, What If, arrived in 2017. Inspired by Bertelmann's speculation on what life could be like in the future, it featured a Roland Jupiter synth, an Eventide H3000 Harmonizer and player piano alongside prepared piano for a sci-fi-influenced sound.

Always unpredictable, Hauschka continues to offer only one certainty: that the next step he takes will no doubt be as unexpected as the direction from which he has come.

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Following Volker Bertelmann’s (Hauschka) 2008 critically acclaimed Ferndorf album, we are treated to a seven-track 40-minute extended EP of previously unreleased material recorded for the Ferndorf sessions. And since I haven’t had enough of this Düsseldorf-based pianist, who prepares the piano by modifying the hammers and inserting foil between the strings, this is a perfect companion for my hungry mind. The string duo adds a nice touch to the melancholic and nostalgic melodies, making this one of my favorite modern classical EPs of the year.



Hauschka - Snowflakes & Car Wrecks (flac 190mb)

01 Ginsterweg 3:57
02 Eisblume 6:53
03 Wonder 3:57
04 Tanz 9:13
05 Kindelsberg 3:02
06 Hauberg 8:59
07 Tagtraum 3:38

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Foreign Landscapes is Volker's third full length album for FatCat's 130701 imprint (he has also released two albums on Karaoke Kalk). His 2008 Ferndorf has made it on Best of 2008 lists, and received critical acclaim among the followers and critics alike. On Ferndorf, exploring his childhood memories, Hauschka experimented with the addition of two cellists, a violinist and even a trombone player. On Foreign Landscapes, Volker reflects on his recent travels during an extensive world tour. And this time he's got an entire orchestra! In fact, some pieces don't even feature prepared piano, and instead showcase Volker's skill at arranging an expansive and ambitious orchestral score. "Nine of the album’s twelve tracks feature a 12-piece string and wind ensemble from San Francisco’s Magik*Magik Orchestra, alongside Volker Bertelmann’s own prepared piano. Dynamic, brimming with character and colour, ‘Foreign Landscapes’ retains its author’s distinctive musical voice and leads the listener through a beautifully balanced collection, moving from delicate solo piano lyricism to a propulsive, robust minimalism." On the album, Düsseldorf (Germany) based Volker Bertelmann continues to delight our ears with his compositions. At times somber, at times playful, Bertelmann's chord progression explores major and minor tonalities that calm restlessness and lift up the spirits. The twelve pieces sound very intimate, appealing to the listener's perception, as if the orchestra was setup in your own living room, for a private performance. The lack of organic (or synthetic for that matter) reverb, creates a very personal atmosphere, with skillfully balanced stereo field, centering the listener.



Hauschka - Foreign Landscapes (flac  295mb)

01 Alexanderplatz 4:47
02 Iron Shoes 6:00
03 Mount Hood 4:15
04 Madeira 4:59
05 Union Square 4:33
06 Snow 5:53
07 Early In The Park 3:05
08 Kamogawa 5:50
09 Children 5:10
10 Sunny Mission 2:57
11 Konseiji 2:17
12 Trost 6:00

Hauschka - Foreign Landscapes  (ogg  128mb)

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Though making prepared piano the focus of his work would seem limiting, Hauschka's Volker Bertelmann has pushed against any perceived boundaries with each of his albums -- except for Salon des Amateurs, where he smashes them. Named after a club in his native Düsseldorf, the album is Hauschka's take on dance music. While merging electronic and post-classical music is nothing new -- Jóhann Jóhannsson and Max Richter are two of Hauschka's leading contemporaries in this field -- bringing an instrument as delicate as the prepared piano into an arena as forceful as dance music is certainly novel. Yet Salon des Amateurs never feels like a novelty; instead, this is dance music on Hauschka's terms, at once refined and compulsively rhythmic. Bertelmann continues to choose his collaborators wisely, teaming with Múm drummer Samuli Kosminen to give the album its percussive heart, Calexico's John Convertino and Joey Burns for additional percussion and flavor, and violinist Hilary Hahn, who lends a graceful solo to “Girls.” While these tracks aren’t bangers or dancefloor anthems in the traditional sense, they are extremely danceable and nod to dance music’s roots as much as they point the way to post-classical music’s future. “Cube” and “Radar” incorporate electronics subtly and seamlessly into their delicate but relentless rhythms, while “Two AM”'s looping piano melody and four-on-the-floor beat hold up a largely acoustic mirror to house music. Whether or not these songs are ever played next to the latest dance music sensation at a club, Salon des Amateurs is a bold, accomplished work that ranks among Hauschka’s most exciting albums.



Hauschka - Salon Des Amateurs (flac  223mb)

01 Èglantine Gouzy - Mr. Spoon (Two Stones) 2:58
02 Barbara Morgenstern - Im Schlaf (Where Were You?) 3:02
03 Nobukazu Takemura - Assembler's Mix (Kein Wort) 6:41
04 Wechsel Garland - Es Waren Einmal (Two Stones) 2:08
05 Takeo Toyama - Kotoba Naku (Kein Wort) 4:01
06 TG Mauss - Things (Twins) 4:18
07 Vert - Rocket Man (Traffic) 3:22
08 Frank Bretschneider - Stumm (Kein Wort) 4:45
09 Mira Calix - Without Morning Mix (Morning) 3:27
10 Chica And The Folder - Para Bien (Ginko Tree) 3:30
11 Hauschka - Flying Horses (Traffic) 3:43
12 Tarwater - World Of Things To Touch (Two Stones) 2:50

Hauschka - Salon Des Amateurs  (ogg  105mb)

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Following up Hauschka groundbreaking 'Salon Des Amateurs' release, comes this great collection of electronically-angled remixes commissioned from a selection of highly respected producers. Pitched between the dancefloor and the more experimental edges of electronica, the cast of remixers is largely drawn from fellow German artists, friends and FatCat allies. It's a cerebral journey that requires a close listen, rather than a run-of-the-mill remix release that banally rehashes the hooks from the original works. A stunning, immersive listen from start to finish, ‘Salon Des Amateurs Remixes’ stands as both a series of intriguing extensions of Hauschka’s original ideas, and a cohesive, top quality album in its own rights.



Hauschka - Salon des Amateurs Remixes (flac  384mb)

01 Radar (Michael Mayer Remix) 8:22
02 Sunrise (Matthew Herbert's Dawn Mix) 5:00
03 Cube (Ricardo Villalobos & Max Loderbauer Remix) 8:00
04 Tanzbein (Steve Bicknell – Lost Mix) 5:58
05 Radar (Alva Noto Remodel) 5:09
06 Girls (Hauntologists Remix) 6:55
07 Ping (Tolouse Low Trax Remix) 6:35
08 Two AM (Patten Remix) 5:09
09 Ping (Vainqueur Remix) 9:12
10 Subconscious (Vladislav Delay Remix) 8:50

Hauschka - Salon des Amateurs Remixes  (ogg  177mb)

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Here we find Bertelmann working with one of th cellists from Touch label, Hildur Guðnadóttir, on the album featured in this review.  For Pan Tone, Bertelmann takes his skills at preparing the piano even further. I can almost see him scratching and brushing at the strings, plucking them with resonant hooks, and processing the output through a set of carefully crafted effects. Guðnadóttir, meanwhile, dwells deeper into experimentation with her emotional cello, at times escalating into tension, at times plunging in despair. Together the duo sculpt sonic compositions based on the colors of the waters, from “Black 6? to “Cool Gray 1?, matching the names of printing inks with the sound of the ocean. On the album, the white frothy waves of Hauschka’s hammering piano are contrasted with the abysmal darkness of Guðnadóttir’s bowed strings. The two meet in the middle, where the blues sparkle in the sun, and grace the limited edition handmade textile packaging of the album.

The album ends with a ray of sunlight falling through the dark clouds onto the stormy waters, which first violently crash, then slowly recede and finally melt into a perfect calm. This document of a performance between these two amazing artist is hopefully only a taste of all the great things to come. Just imagine them working on a studio album! Highly recommended for fans of modern classical and cinematic music.
Performed on 26th February 2010 as part of Arctic Circle - Bubbly Blue and Green four-day festival at Kings Place, London.



Hauschka & Hildur Guðnadóttir - Pan Tone (flac  239mb)

01 #283 5:35
02 #294 6:55
03 Black 6 7:24
04 #304 6:09
05 #320 8:45
06 Cool Gray 1 7:29

Hauschka & Hildur Guðnadóttir - Pan Tone  (ogg  104mb)

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