Monday, 17 March 2014

Bohren & Der Club of Gore - Piano Nights (Album Review)


Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 10/2/2014
Label : PIAS (UK/EU) / Ipecac (US)
Piano Nights, album track listing :
1). Im Rauch
2). Ber Rosarotem Licht
3). Fahr Zur Hölle
4). Irrwege
5). Ganz Liese Kommt Die Nacht
6). Segeln Ohne Wind
7). Unrasiert
8). Verloren (Alles)
9). Komm Zurück Zu Mir

Bio :
The sublime slowness which has propelled Bohren & Der Club of Gore for over 20 years is in good health. Returning with the suggestively titled Piano Nights, Bohren have not departed from their obdurate approach, yet in its title, much is revealed about the content. In to their sound has subtly crept the presence of a giant, and the name of the album shows nothing but exemplary respect for the instrument which governs here – the piano.
Inadvertently born out of Christopher Clöser’s boredom before a concert in Moscow, Piano Nights started as an idea when he tinkered with a grand piano, and resonated with the sheer depth and enormity of the instrument. Proving to be too noble, too powerful, what you hear on this album is not a grand piano, instead, they chose to utilise the sound of a Yahama electric – more ambiguous, less lofty and most significantly, not quite so serious. Energy is instantaneously channelled into sonic space through the interplay of piano, organ and vibraphone, governed solely by the Bohren laws which dictate the intense appreciation of slowness. The band has worked meticulously on this sonic space, uncovering some new and interesting aspects within their familiar aesthetic, and within themselves as musicians.
The four musicians, who consider Piano Nights to be their best album since Black Earth, are at pains to stress than the album title is not satirical, but a standard, a framework they set themselves. Considering their intermediary 2011 release Beileid, with its standout cover of Warlock’s ‘Catch my Heart’ (complete with vocals from antihero extraordinaire, Mike Patton), the routes open to Bohren were multiple and myriad. In this context, Piano Nights actually appears to be something of a return to their roots, albeit based on complex arrangements and a broader palette of sound. Packing in the sounds of mellotron, vibraphone, organ, saxophone, bass, drum, spirit choir – Bohren actively resist and refute the trappings of the word ambient, their instinctive musicianship creating the most slender of jazz; understated in its virtuosity, ambiguous in its transparency. Every minutiae, every fleck of colour, every spark and snap of percussion has the meticulous knowledge and unlimited patience of Der Club of Gore behind it – yet, unfathomable and beyond calculation, Bohren’s music is something which is best enjoyed and accepted. Sidestepping the pitfalls of routine and familiarity, Piano Nights poses the question of what to do when the acoustic information being relayed to you is outside of the parameters in which you can process? The answer, is to trust yourself, and let it wash over you – give it time, plenty of time, and you will see.
They are confirmed to play in London on Saturday 5th April at St John On Bethnal Green.
The Band :
CHRISTOPH CLÖSER | (Saxophones, Fender Rhodes, Piano, Vibraphone),
MORTEN GASS |  (Organ, Vocoder, 8-String Bass, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes),
ROBIN RODENBERG | (Bass, Double Bass)
Review :
Bohren & Der Club of Gore. Not much can be said that hasn’t been said before, the group are simply as consistent as the seasons.  The soundtrack to a thousand lost film noir classics, a late night bus ride through sprawling urban decay, and a tragic love story filmed in black and white.
Bohren know what they do, and quite simply, they are and most likely will remain the best at it. With every release they subtly add a new element, albeit discreetly, to an unwavering formula. You may wonder what a band so steeped in noir jazz and soundtrack work is doing featuring on The Sludgelord, but that would be to miss the point.
The trio wield such an unforgettable mastery over slow motion laments of loss, mystery, intrigue and despair that they can appeal to even the most hardened of doom and sludge fans, whilst remaining true to their own sonic path. As with fellow masters of snail-paced melancholia, Warning, the sheer heaviness of Bohren’s work comes from the space in between the notes. The atmosphere, thick with the smoky aroma of cigarettes and whisky found in a thousand jazz club basements, is where Piano Nights excels.
Adding far more noticeable touches of electric piano has accentuated the choral, church like nature of the music, allowing the usual beds of ambience to float eerily past with every reverberating note. Sometimes during Piano Nights, the upfront piano and bass work will allow you to hang on a moment of uplifting joy, a chord progression that lifts you from the dystopian turmoil and melancholia prevalent in almost all of their recorded work and it feels as epic as any musical climax from Sigur Ros or Mogwai. The only difference being ,this is simply one bar of a song, and the band consist of a keyboardist, up-right bass player, saxophonist and drummer.
And that is where the true genius of Piano Nights (and Bohren & Der club of Gore in general) lies, in the bands ability to pull and push your emotions at will, even whilst crawling at a pace usually reserved for the bleakest of funeral doom.
Every album by these guys is a journey, and Piano Nights is no exception. It’s the same Bohren on Piano Nights as on every past release, but maybe this time they pushing you towards the light at the end of the tunnel, with a sound as timeless as the instrument that inspired the album.
Words by : Richard Powley
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