In his last album ‘Foreign Landscapes’, Volker Bertelman (aka Hauschka) went from avant-garde solo piano to a larger sound palette with his series of pleasingly left-field compositions for orchestra.
And now, Bertleman’s musical journey has taken another dog-leg with his new release ‘Salon Des Amateurs’ in which mid-paced dance music (think Bent and Crazy P) combines with modern classical achieving a result that isn’t a naff and overblown slab of easy listening a lá James Last but a warm and inventive string of compositions which manage to combine taste and playfulness (not an easy thing to do).
‘Radar’ the opening track sounds like Kraftwerk Unplugged with rhythms stiff as corpses softened by real strings and piano; On the aptly titled ‘Ping’ plucked cello syncopation knocks lightly against staccato jazz chords while a delicate arrangement tip-toes onto the scene, ribbons of chimes, ticks and clinks in a serenade of clocks and bottles and on ‘Subconcious’ short, slight cascades of piano are sprayed over full, warm bass.
Part of the appeal of this album is the warmth of the tones involved – the acoustic bass that provides ballast to the tracks and the pizzicato strings and keys which colour the pieces. Drums are added sparingly but potently as are the minimal, snaking synth riffs.
The album is a lovely swathe of ambient music although this is where it may possibly lose some people. Most pieces don’t have the narrative force of a more conventional classical composition but skip along happily from A to B and Theme and Development are eclipsed by Beat and Hook which makes for a sag in the album if listened to as anything other than stylish background music.
However, ‘Salon Des Amateurs’ remains a gently shimmering album and can only make you wonder what Bertelman will try next.