Hauschka : Salon Des Amateurs
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Hauschka : Salon Des Amateurs

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Hauschka’s Volker Bertelmann comes to us taking inspiration from composers like Steve Reich and Phillip Glass to continue a tradition of minimal composition that took root in the late twentieth century. Over the course of six albums, released in as many years, Hauschka has moved from experimental prepared piano pieces that are deeply indebted to John Cage to more orchestral explorations featured on his last album Foreign Landscapes.

Moving on more playful four on the floor rhythmic tangents across Salon Des Amateurs sees Hauschka washing over more like Phillip Glass’ Solo Piano, Terry Riley’s In C and Steve Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians on this effort.

Some may argue that, because Hauschka hails from Düsseldorf, this album puts more of an electro-acoustic spin on micro house and techno templates, but these genres never sounded so lush and melodic. As Tanzbein builds with a slow elegance the jangly piano chords simultaneously offers a new meaning to the concept of piano house while tipping a hat in the direction of Steve Reich.

Placing John Cage’s prepared-piano technique into a more pop context Hauschka extends the sounds his piano can make by experimenting with its strings, or filling it up with ping pong balls on Ping, simply to see what sort of sound it will make. Interlocking layers of experimental sounds are combined to produce a thick organic groove that’s polished with just a touch of electronic processing.

Múm drummer Samuli Kosminen and Calexico’s John Convertino provide the percussive heart of this album, while the acclaimed Hilary Hahn provides Girls with a swooning violin solo. Meanwhile Joe Burns’ cello adds subtle string textures to the almost-funky Two AM. It’s in the second half of the album that it drifts into more subtle, dreamy territory. The jaunty Subconscious almost sounds like an electro acoustic approximation of Kraftwerk.

Walking the line that separates experimentation and accessibility, Hauschka has succeeded on building on the legacy of his influences to create something delightfully new.