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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Günter Schlienz - Autumn [Zoharum - 2016]

Günter Schlienz is a German experimental musician, a member of the ambient/experimental post-rock band Navel, he also works under the alter ego Cosmic Winnetou, recording and releasing some of the finest cosmic sounds around. He is also noted for building his own modular synthesizers, which he uses in the creation of his music.

The album Autumn is inspired by the three months of that particular season. It consists of three aptly monikered tracks Oktober, September and November. Interestingly, they are grouped in a very unusual order, Oktober coming before September in the track listing. There is obviously a reason for this, however it is one that I am at present unsure of, perhaps a listen to the album will help answer this question?

Ok, Oktober is the album opener and the longest track herein, running at over 25 minutes long. The track floats on a wave of elegant, warm sounding synthesizers. It is both hypnotic and suggestive, drawing the listener in to its web, all the while alluding to images of falling leaves and the growing power of the wind as the track weaves its way across the season. This is a beautiful piece of ambient electronica that flows well, climaxing as it heads towards more wintery conditions. The sound, representative of the wind becoming more and more fraught as the month progresses and a coldness begins to grow by the end of the track. This piece is almost like a representation of the season in miniature, perhaps this is why it is drawn out of its natural order in the flow of the album and brought to the fore?

September is up next, and again that sense of the autumn winds takes a central role in the proceedings. Analog synths have always been perfect for replicating the sound of wind whistling through the trees, this is something I have used on a number of occasions in my own work so hearing it here acts as validation for my own use of synths in this way. September is a sixteen minute drone piece that hints at the onset of autumn, the weather slowly begins to change, and the evenings start to draw in. This is all encapsulated in this piece of music. Schlienz’s work is very reminiscent of that of ambient pioneer and general electronica overlord Brian Eno, one cannot help but draw parallels to Eno’s classic works. I am reminded of the more reflective moments from the Another Green World album, but particularly of his ambient series which was begun with Music for Airports and concluded with On Land. This is not a criticism as these albums remain the cornerstones of everything good about ambient music and still hold up around 40 years after their release.

November is the final track, there is a melancholy that instantly strikes the listener upon hearing it. You get the feeling that autumn has progressed, and that winter is just around the corner. This is borne out in the bleakness of the music. The warmer synth sounds of September have been replaced with colder tones and the whole thing has taken on a colder feel to it. The use of Theremin adds beautifully to the mix, hinting at the ever darkening of autumn skies and the strengthening winds blowing through the trees. By the track’s end we are being led into winter. The storm samples and the background hiss suggestive of the onset of snow storms and the end of autumn and the onset of winter.

Autumn is a beautiful album that truly captures the sound of the season. It is ambient in the truest sense of the word, and very evocative of Brian Eno’s early ambient recordings. Overall it provides a very enjoyable sonic experience that is infused with the esoteric spirit of the season conjuring up a little of the magick that Autumn has to offer.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Darren Charles
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