4 Days of Eerie Music – day2 | 4DME
Second day of eerie music features Hauschka with his extraordinary piano experiments, supported by a gifted Polish cello player Resina
Since the release of his debut album, Substantial, in 2004, Volker Bertelmann – aka Hauschka – has, slowly but surely, earned a remarkable reputation as a purveyor of imaginative, distinctive, prepared piano music. This isn’t, to be fair, a heavily populated field, but it’s one he’s made his own, and while some might have dismissed his work early on as a novelty, Bertelmann has proven himself to be uncommonly inventive, coaxing ever more unprecedented, euphonic sounds and rhythms out of his instrument. Even so, on What If – which finds him adding player pianos (also known as pianolas) to his armoury – Bertelmann expands his range even further, defying expectations and delivering what is without doubt his most ingenious album yet.
Bertelmann has also been recognised as a soundtrack composer, working on scores for a number of documentaries and feature films, not least James Franco’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s In Dubious Battle and, alongside Dustin O’Halloran, Lion, for which they’ve both been nominated for a Golden Globe and Oscar.
For Bertelmann, the opportunity to record another album of his own was a welcome one. “My solo work,” he explains, “is autonomous, and I can choose every step from the beginning without any outside influence. I definitely decided with What If to make a record that might be my most radical. The lyrical piano has disappeared, and the sounds I’m fascinated by – like noise and electronic elements – have taken over.” In practise, this means that this time Bertelmann used an old Roland Jupiter 4 synthesiser and an Eventide H3000 Harmonizer, as well as engaging with his trademark technique of utilising unusual objects – art erasers, for instance – to treat (or ‘prepare’) the piano. More importantly, however – and in a break from his traditional methodology – he programmed parts for player pianos, exploiting the speed at which they could play, manipulating the resulting sounds, and building layers to emphasise a composition’s metre.
Likely to prove one of 2017’s most original albums, while at the same time inspiring questions about the very nature of the world we inhabit, What If redefines the very notion of piano music in a dramatic and exceptional fashion. It stands as a rebuttal to those who lazily seek to shoehorn Hauschka’s work into the so-called, uncomfortably broad ‘new classical’ category, and instead underlines his status as a unique and invaluable artist.
Support: Polish composer and cello player Resina
Resina is the alias of Karolina Rec, a cellist/ composer based in Warsaw, who signed to 130701 having sent in this album as a hugely impressive demo late last year. A very accomplished performer with a background in Polish underground music, this eponymous album is her solo debut and sees a rich, atmospheric re-imagining of Polish music rooted in a feeling for indigenous nature / landscape and realized via an intuitive, experimental approach to playing.
Her self-titled debut album is a result of experiments with cello and simple electronic tools – sometimes close to the form of song; sometimes based more on powerful, intuitive impressions but always marked by the desire to use non-obvious characteristics of the instrument.
See the LINE-UPs of other concerts within 4 days of eerie music: