Hauschka - What If
(Temporary Residence)

Volker Bertelmann is Hauschka, The German pianist who has been experimentally warping the tone and timbre of the piano by placing items onto piano strings. Known as “prepared” piano, Bertelmann utilizes this technique to give his music a percussive quality while the atmospheres he creates around those tones present feelings of claustrophobia and isolation, but are beautiful nonetheless.
For What If, Bertelmann adds in vintage instruments such as the Roland Jupiter synth which bring an element of warmth to his sparse compositions. You can hear its cosmic omnipresence throughout the starbound thriller “Familiar Things Disappear,” creating a cloud-like buffer to the skittering and clanging rhythm. The rhythms he conjures up on What If are truly ground-breaking and often times, earth shaking. To achieve this, he manipulates the sound of the electric player piano, aka pianola, by slowing down down the tones and weaving multiple layers like a fine tapestry. The incessant “Constant Growth Fails” reflects this as the clattering player piano constructs a frenetic pulse that echoes Wendy Carlos’ Moog synth in its virtuosic technique and John Cage for its percussive shake. This is masterful work from Bertelmann.
You will not hear another record this year that masters mood, texture and ambiance while pushing boundaries this far and wide. Truly awe inspiring. (Dom)
Check out a track here.