Sevenstars: Fennesz in an 18-minute nutshell

Fennesz, Sevenstars, Touch, CD EP Tone44 (2011)

Not much of an album here, being only 18 minutes long, but at least it’s a solo Fennesz release (with help from Steven Hess on drums) and not a release where the guitarist has to share space with or play second fiddle to people who I regard as his inferiors. The music on offer is four very short tracks that present no significant progress on “Endless Summer”, to say nothing of what came after that album: they are very melodic and have an elegant and melancholy sound that straddles a delicate balance between smooth and liquid on the one hand and a little sharp and edgy on the other. They all could be extended into longer pieces and perhaps one day our man Christian will see fit to do that or someone will remix them into something more substantial.

“Liminal” is as close to acoustic as music created on electric guitar and processed through a laptop can be: it seems an elegiac piece, looking longingly at a past love that can never be revived perhaps, with the occasional sharp and surprisingly intense flourish. “July” is darker, more abstract and fragile in sound with field recording snippets here and there, and a spaced-out, somewhat cavernous atmosphere overseeing the fragments of guitar tone. Restful, reassuring guitar strumming contrasts with a slightly unsettling feeling. “Shift” drifts into slightly more amorphous, cloud-ambient territory with shifting drones that flow and ebb through the space in your head: not terribly developed but it’ll do as is. The title piece is a gentle lullaby melody that almost cries out for some lyrics – preferably from someone like Marissa Nadler or even Alcest man Neige and not from the people Fennesz has been working with lately! – with a wistful, nostalgic ambience.

Never thought I’d live to see Fennesz reach the limits of his range so quickly especially as he has a unique palette of sounds and techniques to work with. Other experimental guitarists I have heard have a more limited set of sounds to work with and have surpassed him in original and creative work.

Contact: Fennesz, Touch Music