Fennesz - Seven Stars [Touch - 2011]Austrian born Christian Fennesz should need little introduction, but for the uninitiated, Fennesz takes control of acoustic guitar, synths, field recordings and computer manipulation to create astonishingly intense soundscapes, incorporating darker and glitchier sensibilities. His earlier works played heavily on the glitch side of things until he started to explore more ‘melodic’ and accessible realms with the likes of his ‘Endless Summer’ album or his collaborations with Japanese artist Ryuichi Sakamoto.
The first track on this 10” hits upon a style very similar to his Endless Summer works, a blissed out piece which focuses entirely on a short acoustic guitar loop as it weaves in and out of the infinite streams of ambience and electronic textures. Weight is added as the track unfolds, the acoustic loop manipulated further and the intensity of the melodies increased, albeit not too much as to drift into the spheres of true outsider music. This is not to detract from the pure musicianship on display; he is a genius when it comes to evoking emotion through electronics, using only the most subtle of organic instrumentation, mainly the guitar and piano.
‘July’ falls back into more experimental territory whilst still retaining the fuzzed out emotional elements found in the opener. The focus is kept firmly on the droning aspects, using this to create the base melody and then dropping in some seriously hefty noise samples which clash and contort and inject the track with shades of darkness. Towards the end the background becomes clearer, the heavily treated instrumentation reveals itself and acoustic guitar comes to the fore once again, an absolutely immersive and stunning track.
Side B starts with ‘Shift’, the track kicking in with mellow synth lines, which eventually become glacial shards of light as you are drawn to follow its ever shifting pattern. The track instantly brings to mind certain elements of Asva, especially segments from their newest work ‘Presences of Absences’ which relies heavily on the piano for their long droning scales, reaching almost operatic crescendos. The title track itself ‘Seven Stars’ sees the introduction of drums courtesy of Steven Hess (Haptic, On, Ural Umbo, Dropp Ensemble) and combines the almost familiar ease of a ‘normal’ pop composition offset with this fuzzy aura which lends the experimental edge, a very uplifting closer and it bodes well for a future full length.
Whilst altogether not the most original or ‘off the cuff’ astounding release from Christian Fennesz to date, ‘Seven Stars’ still packs one hell of a punch. The ease in which he wields his craft and the depth of emotion found in his pieces is a rarity unto itself and now as a well-established musician, his works are now gaining a beautiful wholeness which is very, very addictive indeed. Truly stunning workTodd Robinson