Kieran Hebden is a very busy men these days. He works as a producer for his long time colleague Jamie XX and for his first solo record “In Colour”. He also plays extended DJ sets on festivals around the world (Dekmantel, Boiler Room…). For his second music project called Percussions (more club oriented like Four Tet) he also releases new tracks in the last months. Now he is back with a new main release as Four Tet.
It’s his first release on the independet online music store bandcamp. There was no press hype and no marketing campaign for the new record. The new record Morning / Evening is very different from his latest releases. It only has 2 tracks with a playtime of 20 minutes for each one. That’s one thing. The other thing is the music himself. On Morning / Evening Kieran goes back to his roots. Hebden is half-Indian on his mother’s side and for the first time, he says, his music finds him considering his roots. And these influences you can listen to just from the beginning of the record. It sounds a lot like a Bollywood record from Side A (Morning Side). And that’s very difficult to get into it. But don’t get me wrong it is not terrible but it’s miles ahed from his latest releases. The second track (Evening Side) has another feeling but also these Boolywood elements in it. But this track has a great gain in intensity. The last third was amazing – these percussions are great – Kieran Hebden at his best! In my opinion it’s not his best record and miles away from his master pice “There Is Love In You” (Dominio, 2010) but with the new release he explores a new format. I’m not sure if his music is ready for these long tracks but we will see what comes next.
This was my first time at Berlin Atonal Festival and it was totally impressive. Unfortunately I have missed it last year. I was a little bit frustrated because the line up from last year was very good (for example artists like Miles, Vessel, Roly Porter and Tim Hecker). But this year I don’t miss it!
I would like to start my short review with a quick overview about the organisation and location. First, organisation: In front of the main building there was a nice area to hang out and taste all the different kind of street food offers. There were more than 6 different stations. I have tried the gorilla burger and it tasted very good. It was no problem to stood outside because it was a late summer day in august. Next up, the location: In the past years I’m attended to many concerts and visited different locations, but this one was totally outstanding. From the outside this old heating plant doesn’t looks very special. It’s just a big industrial concrete building. It is much more impressive if you go into it. There were 3 different areas: the main stage, the stage null and the schaltzentrale. If you go into it you can see at first a few spotlights and an old projector with different screenings at the first floor. The whole decoration was very minimalistic and simple.
In this case it makes totally sense because the atmosphere is very special and unique. If you go up to the second floor you can reach the schaltzentrale and the main stage. The schaltzentrale is a small factory control room with a bank of modular synths stationed. It was used for intimacy live sessions. Very unique!
And than, the main stage. From there you can see how big this location actually is. There is nothing else besides the bar on the left side and the stage in front of the building with the large projector. But now, my concert impressions: The doors opened at 8 pm with Ryo Marukami an minimal techno artist. I don’t know him before, but his performance was not bad. Maybe I should give that kind of music another try in the future. After that I also give me a short break until my favourite artist Alessandro Cortini started his set at 10 pm.
His set was impressive as expected! He presented one of his previous records “Sonno” live. And yes, it was fantastic. The combination between the tracks and the screenplay works perfectly together. It was also nice to hear how the tracks works live. Up next was Sheckleton, but at this moment I feel my legs the first time. It was no fun to stood more than 2 hours on concrete. And yes I’m not more in the 20s! Shackleton’s show was more beats oriented. More effects and no screenplay. I knew a few tracks of him and there were also not bad live.
The last one I have seen was Berlin DJ and producer Rene Pawlowitz alias Shed. The first time I have listened to Shed was in 2010. At that time he has released “The traveller”. The approach from Shed was totally different to Shackleton. The set was heavy bass oriented and also minimalistic in light effects. It was definitely nice to look at. At the end of his set it was round about 2 am in the night and I was totally exhausted because I feel my painful legs and feets again, so I have decided to end up here. Berlin Atonal was definitely a great experience because you can not compete it to any other festival. I’m looking forward to the next year…
After his great live album “Spaces”, Nils Frahm returned with a new effort called “Solo”. He released “Solo” as part of the celebration of the Piano Day, a day created by Frahm to pay a homage to this intense instrument. You can get “Solo” as a free download or on vinyl.
The new piono-based tracks are more intimate and reduced as his live shows. You can call “Solo” definitely as a personal record. It’s the perfect music for a relaxed sunday morning. But that’s not all about Frahm. If you have the chance to see him live, you should buy a ticket. His live shows are totally different to his studio records. I have seen him in May this year in Hamburg and it was phenomenal. The switches between the intimate piano tracks and the heavy synthesizer stuff are a totally success. It’s the art of Nils Frahm to create a rising suspense. For me, he can’t play a better closer track than “Toilet Brushes – More”. It was absolutely gorgeous! Yes I like the new record, but I also like his electronic stuff. Hopefully we will hear some new tracks in the near future. But Frahm does not only create new music by his own, he also create the soundtrack for the one-take movie “Victoria”. The soundtrack reinforced the feelings in the movie from Sebastian Schipper (Absolute Giganten, Ein Freund von mir). The movie is about a spanish young girl, which is new in berlin and there experiences on one special night. I haven’t see the movie yet, but I will do it in the future and will share my feelings about it here.
There is a kind of mystery in the music of Nicolas Jaar. The American-Chilean musician is the head of the label Clown & Sunset and also the owner of the subscription-based imprint Other People. Jaar’s music is ruminative and emotional (he calls it “blue-wave”), drawing inspiration from fellow Chilean Ricardo Villalobos and minimal techno.
My first contact to his music I’ve got with “Space Is Only Noise” his debut record in 2011. I can’t say that I like it from the beginning but it grown on me after the time. But Jaar is not only a great composer, he is also a fantastic dj. One of the greatest dj sets I’ve ever seen is his Boiler Room set from 2013. It was mindblowing! In 2014 he released the debut album from Darkside with longtime collaborator Dave Harrington. And now he’s back with another solo release by his own. “Pomegranates” is an alternative soundtrack for the classic avant-garde movie “The Color of Pomegranates” by Sergei Parajanov from 1969. The soundtrack included 20 tracks and in combination with the pictures by Parajanov it is very intense and dramatic. No word, this movie is not for people they can’t see blood or have generally weak nerves. The power from Jaar’s music is impressive. In some tracks he remind me about Ben Frost and otherwise like in the ending score “Muse” he sounded like pianist Nils Frahm. This soundtrack by Jaar is definitely a masterpice but maybe it takes some time if you into it. But it is worth it!
At the beginning of this year two of my best friends recommended me Alessandro Cortini. First, I never listened to his music, so who is that guy? What I know is that he is a member of the alternative group Nine Inch Nails. His primary role in the band was to play the keyboards. He also formed the band SONOIO as his first solo project in 2010.
The newer releases by himself are comes under his own name. One or two month ago I have noticed that he will release a new record called “Risveglio”. I’m listening to the first teaser song “La Sveglia” via his soundcloud page and was blown away. This song has a special dark and hypnotic John Carpenter style in it. I love it! After that I have no change to ignore the past releases from him. I decided to start with the direct predecessor “Sonno”. After the first tracks I’m into it. Very intense atmosphere! Cortini is a master in the usage of the synthesizer. For the sucessor “Risveglio” he also create his intense drone sounds by only one instrument, the Roland MC-202—a monophonic synthesizer/sequencer. “Risveglio” is a immersive record and you should listend to this via good headphones. The first three tracks are massive until the short sequence of track four. It’s a little bit strange that this track stoped suddenly after 30 seconds. But yes this is a planned cut according to Cortini. This kind of music is definitely not suitable for standard listener. You have to be into that kind of drone music. If you like artists like Tim Hecker, Roly Porter or Lawrence English you will also like the work of Alessandro Cortini. There is no way to ignore his work. For me “Risveglio” could be one of the best releases in this year, but we will see what comes next.