Categories
ambient electronic

KROOKS FIFTEEN

Party in Amsterdam!

KROOKS celebrates its first fifteen releases with this free compilation. A great way of getting to know the records label that started out earlier this decennium as a bold adventure by three friends to integrate electronic music culture with new ways of telling stories.

Although KROOKS magazine – with short, inspiring stories about contemporary issues with a call to action in the last sentence – and the KROOKS events – always a cool program on a special location – became popular in the city, both ended after a year of hard work and not earning enough to sustain high quality. In my opinion, KROOKS peaked too soon. The concept would flourish in the new culture of the 2020s.

The output of the record label has been stable since the early days (2015, right?), giving a voice to the emerging new kind of downtempo and lounge-like initiatives in the city.

This compilation is a good overview of the recent developments in the scene. The diversity is great, but all tracks included have that KROOKS-feel to it. It’s hard to describe what that is.

Let’s give a try: a slightly positive attitude with dark edges and a spiritual feel laced with downtempo beats and lush basses.

Something like that.

Best examples on this compilation? The moody and slow ‘Coyote de Arena’ by Absentune, the faster and playfully exciting ‘Supernova’ by SpaceAgePoetry (the beautiful spoken word in Dutch) and Dialogue (the production), the dreamy ambient pop of Arjuna Schiks’ ‘Mahesvari’, and the jazzy house of ‘Pink & Orange Sky’ by label co-founder Satori.

Leaves eleven more fine examples of the contemporary downtempo sound of Amsterdam. Although, there are also contributions from Nijmegen, Manchester, Buenos Aires and Mexico City on here.

Maybe it’s time to extend the solid musical basis of KROOKS to an event or even a publication to propagate the open and progressive nature.

Oh, wait…

Fifteen is released by KROOKS Records.

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.