Thursday, 10 December 2009

Silence - Monolake

Would you purchase an album by this man?    

'I create music that needs attention and focus, that slowly builds up intricate and fragile structures, morphing timbres constructed of millions of microscopic sonic particles, cathedrals of filtered noises, dynamic and dramatic processes which grab the listener and throw them into a new state, or music that is almost invisible, floating around like air, music that grows when performed live using multiple channels of audio.' (from his website)

He explains himself far better than I could.
I've developed a mild obsession with Henke's music over the last few days. As I've got older, my musical obsessions have got milder, unlike my hangovers. 
Unfortunately, my bank balance prevents me from doing what I would like to do, which is buy everything he has recorded (under his own name and as Monolake). Instead, I must progress carefully.
Henke's music progresses carefully, thoughtfully, but not necessarily slowly. You would expect no less from a software engineer, would you?
You could compile a climate change summit EP with three of his tracks - 'Pipeline', 'Melting' and 'Wasteland'. If you wanted.

< This is his new album. 'Sound sources include field recordings of airport announcements, hammering on metal plates at the former Kabelwerk Oberspree, Berlin, several sounds captured inside the large radio antenna dome at Teufelsberg, Berlin, dripping water at the Botanical Garden Florence, air condition systems and turbines in Las Vegas, Frankfurt and Tokyo, walking on rocks in Joshua Tree National Park, wind from the Grand Canyon, a friends answering machine, a printer, conversations via mobile phones, typing on an old Macintosh keyboard and recordings from tunnel works in Switzerland. Synthetic sounds created with the software instruments Operator, Tension, Analog and the build in effects inside Ableton Live. Additional sound design and sequencing using MAXMSP / MaxForLive. Additional reverb: various impulse repsonses via Altiverb. Composed, edited and mixed in Live with a pair of Genelec 8040s. Mastering by Rashad Becker at Audioanwendungen September 2009. Field recordings captured with a Sony PCM D-50.' (from his website)
The sounds are as pure as fresh snow. As clear as the sky on a frosty night.
Some people dislike the sound of technology, thinking they only hear technology, when in fact they hear, in the case of Monolake, a human totally immersed in technology at the service of the listener. Machines may serve the dancer, but 'Silence' is beautifully composed for your listening pleasure alone.
As with so much of Henke's work, his technical expertise here, in harmony with his creative brain, is a marriage which creates a unique, fascinating array of sounds. Field recordings and the manipulation of technology make sounds you will not have heard before. But the new is nothing if it is only new; it must be composed in such a way as to form a harmonious entity.
Henke is playful with the idea of rhythm. You might say he is a tease. Some tracks, such as 'Null Pointer' and 'Shutdown', contain the skeletal structures of 'dance' music, without adding the flesh that would make them club hits. Henke is not adverse to the idea of club music, but even the tracks he has made which contain more meat do not conform to the rules of simplicity as demanded by dancers.
If Henke has influences (a past or present which shapes his sound) I cannot hear them. This may be ignorance on my behalf; if so, then it is a kind of bliss. Minimalism...Techno...Musique Concrete...these are inadequate labels.
There is so much space in 'Silence' that we are seduced into entering. The title could reflect this condition, if we want it to, because it's as if these sounds are projected onto silence; or that vast expanse of pure snow, rather than trying to fill or smother it. Here, sounds can breath because they're given room. The same is true for the listener. 
You really should buy an album by this man. If you know his work, you won't need telling. I, meanwhile, have presents to buy as Xmas approaches. But perhaps I will buy one for myself in the form of another Monolake album...                                     

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