Dream about a Slow Moving Train

Second release by the mysterious Heimito Künst, a fellow we first heard on his self-titled debut CD for Dissipatio in 2021. Today’s item Post Exoticism (SHRIMPER SHR 210) is available through the Italian label, although it was released in the USA by Shrimper in an edition of 100 copies. We don’t know much about Heimito Künst, though he appears to be based in Italy and his German-sounding name may simply be an alias.

He continues his skill for layering and overdubbing, playing multiple instruments by himself – synths, organ, electronics, plus field recordings and tapes, and using his own voice and horn-playing (trumpet or tuba) for additional drone textures as needed. There’s a real craft to the way he does this layering, and he maximises output from each element added to the mix. Compared to his debut, Post Exoticism feels at first like a much more minimalist and slow-moving set, and while at first I was pining for that exciting try-anything spirit that we heard on his first record, where he was experimenting with more modes and more instruments, I’m now seeing the virtues of restraint as exhibited in his new pared-down incarnation. These drones are not simply drones, and though they creep from one end of the room to the other in such a way that all local snails and slugs are laughing at them as they overtake, there is a compositional intelligence at work in the structures. One obvious example is ‘I Wait For The End’ – his lugubrious farewell track – which uses the gradual accretion of layers to build a near-overpowering force of massed sounds as it climaxes, over a period of less than seven minutes.

By now you’re probably thinking of American 20th-century composers like Phill Niblock and La Monte Young, and so is Dennis Callaci who penned a paragraph of praise in support of the tape – but it’s much to Künst’s credit that he’s managing to get his results without the need for excessively long duration, which we have to admit was one of the main features of “classic” Minimalism. I will also note the faintly melancholic tone on many of these tracks, such as ‘Snow Speckled Train’, a tear-jerker which also arrives with an online video to bolster its weepy mood, and ‘49 Days After Death’, which not only alludes to the great gig in the sky in its title, but even provides a suitable update on church funeral music. Yes, Künst is still very wedded to his electronic organ, and delights in its sound so much that it’s one of the few instruments that he leaves untreated in his intensive production processes.

Elsewhere, the tunes – sometimes with added voice, though no lyrics and just an intoning drone from the throat of Künst – project a mysterious and alienating vibe which is very welcome, like watercolour paintings depicting unknown landscapes with deft strokes and washes of colour. ‘Terminus Radioso’, the opener, is one of the more pulse-racing type cuts with its steady pulsing crumps, but it turns out to be untypical of the remainder of the set. Nice item. From 23 May 2022.