The Colour of Stars

Nice split ten-incher of openly “cosmic” synth music, produced as a collaboration between Mads Emil Nielsen and Hanno Leichtmann. The A side of Constellation (ARBITRARY 12) was created by Nielsen in his Copenhagen studio based on improvisations on the Buchla synth at EMS in Stockholm, which he edited and pared down into this series of punchy extracts and then layered in some orchestra samples. It may not go anywhere, but it’s a nice four-minute glimpse into infinite space from the safe vantage point of the viewing port on your 1960s-styled space rocket. May represent a more approachable side of this versatile Danish composer, who is also known for his complex and abstruse collaborations in the Framework series. The longer B side is a remix of the above, credited to Chromacolor, but is in fact Hanno Leichtmann working in his Berlin studio. Actually it’s more of an intensive remaking and refashioning of the track, as Leichtmann has brought in a number of additional instruments – vibraphone, Fender Rhodes electric piano, and a “guitaret”, an obscure instrument from the early 1960s made by Hohner. Apparently it was a sort of electric lamellophone, and worked by striking metal reeds (maybe a bit like a thumb piano). Leichtmann’s choices have a conceptual link of sorts – they’re all instruments that get results by vibrating or striking metal. Six minutes of pleasant poppy ambient are the result; Leichtmann has also created serious minimal art-music in the past, such as his Minimal Studies for Mikroton in 2013. (04/04/2021)

Polish rock band from Gdansk Trupa Trupa here with their latest release B Flat A (GLITTERBEAT GBLP122) … not quite as experimental as Stare Tasmy nor as thuggish as The Kurws, nor as bleak as Schröttersburg. Rather than alienate or shock us, this four-piece aim to please their audience, and are not averse to song-form and melody; this particular album thus descends quite quickly into trite and maudlin ditties, despite a promising opening of hard-and-fast rockers. Even so, there’s an undercurrent of anxiety and fretsome neurosis running through it all which I like, often expressed in the form of minor chords and hollow, barking vocals expressing worry and doubts. Trupa Trupa combine a feeling for edgy art-rock with jangly guitar chords derived from psychedelic rock. Competent delivery and good playing; they strive very hard to be contemporary and meaningful, yet still end up rather dour and defeated. (22/02/2022)

Good set of organ and synth drones on Arch Of Motion (THANATOSIS PRODUKTION THT10) by the Swedish composer / improviser Linnéa Talp. She’s been evolving a musical method based on the rhythms of her own body, especially breathing and listening, and in this approach she follows a number of other prominent women musicians such as Pauline Oliveros and Mia Zabelka. The recordings were made on various pipe organs at churches in Sweden, although she also uses the Buchla synth; we are reminded of she taught herself how to play this complex instrument by relying on her “child-like openness” which allowed her to create music free from pre-conceived ideas; she used the same open-mindedness when she stepped up to the manuals on the church organs. Where Talp differs from some minimalists is her concision and brevity; these pieces are mostly short 4-5 minute works. Her titles, and explications, make explicit reference to the rhythms of breathing in and breathing out. Mostly a solo record I think, although noted European improvisers (including Martin Kuchen) join her on one or two pieces, with vocals, flute, trombone, piano, and guitar. Suitably solemn cover artwork seems to evoke angels, or statues of angels. (04/04/2022)

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