Somnambule - Writing About Music

Hannes Loschel ~ Konferenz der Armseeligkeit

This cd is made up of 21 tracks which range in length between 36 seconds and a little over 10 minutes. The first six tracks are short solo piano pieces – impressionistic, flitting from momentary flutterings to reflective twists and turns, from haunted atmospherics to strident pounding in the lower registers.

“ Distortion I” introduces a synthetic rhythm that jogs along as if by a guarded border. Said rhythm is intermittently drowned out by crashes and true to its title events are heard through a thick gauze of noise.
“ Flangerous” pairs a dainty, hesitant melodica to a melody tentatively traced out on melancholic piano. The effect is of viewing a photograph of a long ago new year’s party, people’s laughing faces caught in the glare of a flash.

The next four pieces “Bruchstuck” I-IV reprise the solo piano played both in the conventional deployment of the keyboard, within the body of the instrument as well as a combination of both techniques with the addition of objects placed on the strings.

The sound of the piano on “Ach Fruhling” is very clear and carries hints of Thelonious Monk perhaps most in the single high note sounded against the held chord, but also in the occasional upper register playing that momentarily sounds like breaking glass.

“ Distortion II” is an urgent, noisy track that has the effect of a klaxon sounding close by. The “Distortion” tracks provide effective counterpoint to the minimal pieces which they punctuate. “Living Room Sources” initially sounds like just that – there’s the dialogue of a German soap opera heard as if from another room which is soon submerged in treated piano and what sounds like fuzzed guitar.

“ Konferenz der Armseeligkeit” in my poor German renders as something like ‘conference of poor soulfulness’ (but probably means nothing like that!) Its various passages communicate a sense of tender moroseness, of lost hope like the characters in David Lynch’s ‘Eraserhead’ who navigate their limited spaces with a mixture of hope and terror. Halfway through the title track there does appear to be the sound of a film projector joined by a melodica, perhaps it is projecting Eraserhead itself. Towards the end of the track high pitched piano chords sound like icicles shattering on a concrete pavement.

Atmospheric, lonesome sounding and spare – these pieces might be the soundtrack to an art movie describing the alienation of days spent in empty flats, of urban angst played out on council estates, events at ground level viewed from on high.
Colin Buttimer
August 2003
Published by All About Jazz