Categories
classical

I-Wolf & Eduardo Raon – The Last Humppa

So, there is only one song. No album. The song is only 2.48. That’s right: 2.48. But I feel there is something magical going on here.

Here is the famous Casino Baumgarten in Vienna. The recording studio was renovated recently and brought back in the original state it was in in 1965. It probably is the only classical recording studio in the world that is still based mainly around original ’60s tube gear. The control room is still in its original condition from the second half of that decade — down to the tiniest of details, like the old telephones! The heart of the studio is a console that was built by WSW (Wiener Schwachstromwerke).

The Palace Baumgarten, close to the famous Palace Schönbrunn, was built in 1779. In 1892, a commissioned officer’s mess (‘Casino’) was integrated into the building, and the large hall, which would later become the studio’s biggest live room, was also built in this era. The beautiful main hall serves as a venue for concerts and other cultural events.

I-Wolf and Eduardo Raon use the acoustics of the ballroom as a third instrument. The other two? Piano and harp. They are not only played in the classical sense: both musicians use the instrument as percussion, alter the sounds and distort them in every possible way. The compositions are the result of live improvisations. There is no post-production.

I-Wolf is Wolfgang Schlögl who is active in the Vienna music scene since the mid-80s. In 1996 he founded the band Sofa Surfers and was one of the important producers in the famous Vienna lounge and downtempo scene. Since a couple of years, he is more and more involved in theatre music and composing for productions.

Eduardo Raon started in the late 90s as a harpist and not only works in the field of improvised new music, but also in pop and jazz. He is the resident harpist for Slovenska Kinoteka (Slovenien Cinemateque) for whom he composes and performs soundtracks for numerous films.

This project is the first collaboration between the two. In a way, it merges the loungy jazzy feel of Schlögl influence and the more emotional and melancholic touch added by Raon. ‘The Last Humppa’ is beautiful, but way too short. The video by Video by Georg Eggenfellner and Jasmin Baumgartner adds another dimension.

For now, we have to wait for more.

Casino Baumgarten by I-Wolf & Eduardo Raon will be released by Seayou Records this fall.

Categories
ambient classical

Jan Wagner – Kapitel

The early days of spring combined with solitude are perfectly expressed by Kapitel, the second album by Jan Wagner. Wagner lives and works in Berlin. He produced releases on the Berghain Ost Gut record label in the Faust Studio Scheer. In 2018 he released Nummern, a beautiful album full of ambient based on piano improvisations. This second one isn’t that different. Wagner is doing what he does best.

That is finding the beautiful spots in-between: piano chords that blend into a lingering sound, the sounds of the mechanics of the piano. Even surrounding sounds in the studio. That way of working gives his music a feel that is so familiar in ambient and a lot of electronic music. Harmony and even melody fade in a blur of non-distinctive sounds. The result is beautiful.

Wagner combines his skill as a pianist and musician with his experience as an electronic music producer. Using his piano improvisations as a basis to build new sound structures. On Kapitel this approach leads to stunning ambient that opens up space for the listener to fill in. Like in ‘Kapital 27’, one of the longest tracks on the album, where dominant piano chords are drowned in a pool of ecstatic sounds that keep building up.

Music that makes you blissfully happy while being lonely.

Kapitel by Jan Wagner is released on Quiet Love Label.