ANDREAS HACK: Pieces (2014)
“I have to be honest, Pieces is a challenge for those who seek a purely musical kind of EM”
1 Abandoned 8:00
2 Before the Fall 7:16
3 Lonely 4:17
4 Sand Spice 5:48
5 Hashima 6:45
6 Ghostly 4:37
7 Barcode 5:59
8 Spaceport 4:26
9 Under the Ice 7:24
(CD-r/DDL 54:31) (V.F.)
(Industrial electronica, ambient and cinematographic EM)
For several of us the name of Andreas Hack doesn't ring a bell! But mention his name in the circle of German progressive music and the looks will be illuminated. Discussions will ignite. Keyboard player and main composer within the Frequency Drift group, Andreas Hack knew how to impose his style which is strongly inspired by contemporary cinema and works of science fiction. Allied to the attractive voice of Katja Huebner, the music from the Bayreuth band is a source of fascination which aims at feeding the imagination of these ears risky and avid to hear something unique. And it's exactly of what is made his first solo work of the German keyboardist who transposes now his style into the corridors of EM. There where the possibilities of creating these film and the sci-fi ambiences are more infinite. In this surrealist decor, PIECES offers a range of styles which are at any time split up by the cleaver of the industrial ambiences and the heaviness of their metallic particles which radiate as much into our ears as in every nook and cranny of his first solo album. The result is something rather unique that you have to discover with a sense of boldness.
Hollow wooshh entail particles of prism and which on their side turn into imaginary murmurs. The noisy, one would say a wave of residues out from a disaster, and passive opening of Abandoned plunges us into the very sinister universe of the album. A universe where the atmospheres remain in suspension and where the rhythms, as the melodies, get articulate by unfinished pieces. A dark piano scatters the crumbs of a melody which gets lost in corridors filled with the tones of a parallel universe. Is this psybient? Not really, but we are not that far! A synth line steals the airs of a solitary saxophone, which takes back its electronic airs, dragging the soft ballad of the lost souls which is Abandoned towards a superb and unexpected down-tempo which drags its carcass with difficulty in a hallucinating sound decor. And like for each structure here, the rhythm, the melody and the ambiences get lost to roam in dark places that we easily imagine to be a door to a catastrophic parallel world or a door to stars, to darkness. But no matter! Everything comes back and restarts, arousing so a hearing curiosity which will find its rewards here and there on this album. Before the Fall follows with its herd of percussions which thunders and rages among Chinese bells and chords. The rhythm is static. Sometimes ambient and sometimes violent. A feminine voice, weaved in the magic of the samplings and the synth, speaks through a megaphone which has difficulty in restoring its right sounds in this very filmic ambiance that some off-screen voices amplify even more. Each track is linked in a huge sound tapestry, weaving an apocalyptic cloth which fascinates those who are fond of tones, but which can annoy the music lovers. It's in this context that Lonely gets out of our loudspeakers. It's a nice ambient ballad, with synth tears with perfumes of Martenot waves caressing some very soft arpeggios, which rots under a dense veil of white noises and of its strange shudders.
To date this journey of Andreas Hack brings us in a universe where the noises become objects of fascination while the rest becomes obsession. A little like in Sand Spice where the percussions forge an obsessive spiritual trance constantly curbed by the opacity of the synth lines. The rhythm goes out from its shell for a moment, making us even rock the trunk, while the percussions plough a passive up-beat transported by slow synth waves with floating orchestral arrangements. Winds and particles of a lost civilization are blowing on the introduction of Hashima where a delicate and melancholic piano calms down our concerns. A very beautiful synth voice chases away these breaths, pulling us in a corner of our soul where it feels good to dream. This is very good and reminds me the most beautiful moments of tenderness which nest on The Glimmer Room's wonderful I Remain. These ambiences continue over Ghostly which develops an intense dramatic veil with a meshing of lines and voices to very metallic tones, a little as distorted chants coming from a Minaret which lost its acoustics. Here, the structure of rhythm is splendid, but too short, with two lines which faces the heaviness of one with the violence of the other one. Always divided between rhythms and atmospheres, Barcode and Spaceport go from funk to ambient and to progressive rock always coated by an almost psychedelic sonic cloth, while Under the Ice starts where Abandoned had abandoned us.
More experimental than musical, more dipped into industrial ambiences than ethereal and definitively more impenetrable than accessible; PIECES stays not less a work as fascinating as disturbing. I admit that the first listening can leave us rather very perplexed, except that we become rather quickly attracted by all this confusion which in the end takes the attractive shape of a thing which obsesses without really knowing why. Available on MellowJet Records which amazes with a music selection as eclectic as audacious.
Sylvain Lupari (April 8th, 2015) ***½**
Available at MellowJet Records