Five Leaves Left

Günter Schlienz from Stuttgart has evolved his own electronic sound over many years through his own secret hand-built devices and unique set-up, which involves modular synthesis, tape machines, and echo units. As Günter Schlienz, he’s released over 20 albums since 2010, some of them privately pressed as CDRs or as cassettes on his own Cosmic Winnetou label. As Navel – described here as an “ambient post-rock project” – he goes back even further, with a string of self-released CDRs from the late 1990s. Today’s record is called Autumn (ZOHARUM ZOHAR 133-2), and it’s a completely charming evocation of the seasons rendered in timeless and very sweet electronic music. I couldn’t help thinking of the Peter Schmidt watercolour painting that was included in Eno’s Before And After Science, the one titled Look At September, Look At October; the music seems a very good fit for that evocative image of a tree seen outside the window, the leaves about to turn brown. Schlienz’s music is not far apart from Eno’s, but it must be said his hand-crafted inventing has really reaped dividends, and he has successfully side-stepped the problem of pre-sets and factory settings that has blighted many a lesser synth keyboard player. Autumn doesn’t sound particularly “weird” though, and I suspect Schlienz doesn’t see himself as a pioneer of unusual sounds or a cosmic explorer trying to wring hidden depths from the innards of electronic machinery. Rather, he simply has his stories to tell in musical form, and wants to find his own way of saying them. An album of slow and intriguing beauty…while not quite as spiritually deep as Popol Vuh, Schlienz’s heart is in the right place, and with his benign and optimistic outlook on the world, he makes Tangerine Dream seem positively turbulent and apocalyptic in comparison. From 27th October 2016.

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