Sleepwalking in lost memories, a hairy goblin processes ambient Lo-Fi nightmarish tales on keyboard, flute, found objects and percussion. Recalling images from childhood days in the Bavarian woods, these Madeleines taste like cold sweat; dark, romantic and surreal elegies for a past never experienced, only imagined. Some call it “Hauntology”, we call it Bavarian Gothic. Schatten & Lichter provides ten sonic stillborn changelings at midnight, preserved and presented here on tape.
"“Schatten & Lichter” is German for “shadow and lights” (at least this is what a handy internet translator tells me). Knowing this, I don’t think that Baldruin, also known as Johannes Schebler, could have picked a better title for this work. Over the course of a thirty-three-minute cassette, he flies through ten tracks that incorporate a range of sounds and styles, yet this variety ultimately reveals how each bit of music compliment the other parts, rather than contrasts with it, not unlike how light and shadow play off of one another in paintings or photographs.
What Baldruin does best is mix the synthetic and the earthy into something that sounds entirely organic. His kitchen sink approach to sounds and instruments works well in this regard, as he seems willing to do whatever it takes to make the best possible music. This could mean a very traditional approach, as songs like “Aus dem Fokus,” “Aufwind,” and “Auf dem Baumwipfel” seem grounded in a more basic, folky tradition, incorporating instruments like the recorder, wood blocks, chimes, harmonium, and the like. Even with these distinctly handmade sounds, there are still plenty of touches of drone and effects, giving a very modern cast to something that would otherwise have been overwhelmingly retro.
The thin line between sounds is expertly walked throughout the album, sometimes casting things into a more modern sphere as well. One great example of this is the powerful song, “Flucht.” On this piece, pulsing, heavy organ drones over more organic-sounding elements, giving the overall feeling of listening to some ominous, dark cathedral music. Amazingly, when human vocals are used, Baldruin makes some of his most otherworldly pieces. The song “Bergkristall” only contains a series of disembodied vocal wails over a light keyboard and drone background, yet sounds like it arrived from outer space. “Unterkunft,” the closing track, is another great example of this. Choral voices are layered up, intermingled with the sounds of breaths and sighs, as buzzing static and radio noise swirl in the background.
With all of its variety, the most striking aspect of “Schatten & Lichter” is just how beautiful and well done it is. This is really intricate and varied music that somehow fools the mind into accepting it without over-thinking. Everything just seems to make instant sense on some deep level. For how effortless it feels, it’s easy to discount just how much thought and work must have gone into making these incredible sounds, yet these hidden, intricate charms slowly emerge with repeated listening. And really, multiple spins through this tape shouldn’t be a problem, since you’ll want to listen to it a lot after you hear it once.
As with many great things, this is limited to just a hundred copies, so don’t hesitate to get your own ticket to this fantastic show.
Matt Blackall, Foxy Digitalis
released as a tape on Cae-Sur-A (www.cae-sur-a.com
) in an edition of 100
thanks to jen & cory, 31