“Night’s Highest Noon” and “The Forest Is Sleeping…” in Merchants of air

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Sometimes it’s good to step out of your musical comfort-zone and into strange sonic territories. I guess that’s what the good people from Krysalisound must have been thinking when they signed this odd duo. Mostly known for their soothing ambient releases, the label now unleashed something unusual, to say the least.
​klās’tĭk is the duo of Andrea Koch and Masaya Hijikata. One lives in Berlin but has Italian roots, the other resides in Warwaw although born in Japan. So the cultural background of klās’tĭk is quite eclectic, so I guess it’s no surprise that their music is quite eclectic too.
It all begins with a song called ‘Chauvet’. At first, the song calmly explores the regions of experimental ambient and live looping, only to evolve into something ritual with eerie vocals and  glitchy percussion. ‘Airtight Decoration’ then drags the whole thing into the world of jazz, mostly characterized by the drums. Somewhere in the back of my imagination, Tom Yorke is jamming with Autechre and the Dale Cooper Quartet. ‘Torque’, a brilliant piece of drone-jazz somewhat follows that example, but without the vocals. That’s probably why ‘Torque’ is my favorite track on this album with its pulsating soundscapes, complex drums and an almost magical atmosphere.
Every track on this album has its own story to tell, and it’s rarely something easy-digestible. ‘Night’s Highest Noon’ is chaotic and strange, and so is its follower ‘Commuters’. Yet, here too, beyond the intense elements of free-jazz, there are unexpected loops and sounds, turning each song into something you have probably never heard before. I guess it’s up to you to decide if that’s good or bad. All I know is that this is a baffling debut, one that needs time and effort to be explored. Or in other words: this is glitchy jazzbient at its very best. I don’t know if that is a genre but it covers the load quite well. Interesting debut….

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Sometimes an album works so inspiring that a lot of words flow through my keyboard without actually describing the album itself. This album, a remastered reissue of  Paw Grabowski’s 2015 release, came in for review a while ago. Yet, instead of become the subject of a review, it became the musical guide for the opening scene of my new book, or at least for the atmosphere. While these six gloomy but beautiful ambient pieces floated through my speakers, my mind wondered off and inspiration came in huge numbers. So for that,  Paw Grabowski, thank you. Now, let’s go into the music itself, because that is what we’re here for, isn’t it?
Actually, this review could be very short. ‘The Forest Is Sleeping Within The Trees’ is a six track album, built around the piano and the pump organ. One of the keywords here is “minimalism” as the sounds of both instruments seem to dance with and around one another. Fans of artists like William Basinski , Tim Hecker or Stars Of The Lid will easily appreciate these six tunes. The whole thing is gloomy, driving on looping organs and quite often repetitive piano touches. The latter give the music a neat sense of pulsation.
It’s not easy to select a favorite track, perhaps it’s ‘Part 1’, a somewhat rhythmic and enticing piece of music. ‘Part 2’ is more experimental, a bit harsher. It still wanders through ambient landscapes, but feels rougher. ‘Part 3’ is dreamy and seductive while ‘Part 4’ drags the listening along dark drones and eerie soundscapes. The others are up to you to discover and I really recommend checking out this gem. Piano ambient doesn’t often come this narrative and immersive, I can tell you that!!!

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