Posts Tagged ‘Danielle de Picciotto’

Broken Clover Records – 19th February 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Danielle De Picciotto is a true polyartist, as an exhibiting artist, an author, and musician, who has sung with Crime & The City Solution and Space Cowboys. She co-initiated the Berlin Love Parade in 1989 and “The Ocean Club” together with Gudrun Gut, and has been producing music under the hackedepicciotto moniker with husband Alexander Hacke, founding member of Einstürzende Neubauten, for the last twenty years.

The Element of Love, her third solo album, is an intriguing affair, drawing on elements of experimentalism and spoken word and placing them to the fore. It’s a curious hybrid of sparse, droning instrumentation, and narrative pieces delivered quite dryly, with low-key orchestral instrumentation.

For the most part, the backing is subtle, spacious, and there is a palpable sense of distance and wonderment. ‘Is anybody out there?’ she asks, breathlessly, on opener, ‘Sea of Stars’, and the narrative pieces which occupy the album are an interesting blend of postmodernism and mysticism, referencing Harry Potter and more serious magic, as well as a host of cultural touchstones both obvious and oblique. Precisely what the lyrical bent of The Element of Love is, is unclear, but space, superheroes and, as the title suggests, elemental forces, appear to be central themes

Third track, ‘Solitude’ is a murky morass or extraneous noise, a distant grind and an ethereal vocal off in the distance: with its rhythmic industrial gratings it’s reminiscent of 90s Swans and Jarboe. In contrast, the title tracks is a sedate, string-led instrumental that simply exists in its own space and time, while ‘Who Am I’ is more overtly electronic, with dripping analogue notes and a simple beat reminiscent of Young Marble Giants’ primitivism. The majority of the album is simple, minimal, and in many ways the reconstructed sound installation of the record is all there is. On the surface, The Element of Love is very much a wandering around a certain sameness, and it’s not until one spends time and delves into the details that the depths and differences reveal themselves and reveal the range, which lies in the tone, texture, and mood.

For the most part, The Element of Love is swampy and murky and difficult to define in any sense, lyrically or musically – but especially musically, as it hangs in mid-air, undecided about its identity as so many of the common and popular tropes point toward the dimly-lit back of the auditorium. But don’t let that be a deterrent: there is much to discover here.

AA

a0009307537_10

DL Monika Entreprise monika 95-1, 95-2 (LC 01806)

20th November 2020 / 27th November 2020

Monika Werkstatt isn’t an individual, but a collective of female musicians and producers gathered by Gudrun Gut from the circles of her label, Monika Enterprise and Moabit Music.

Ambient Session is a document – abridged – of a two-day live project that took place at the Jewish Museum in Berlin on 26th and 27th April 2019. The liner notes detail the event, a full multimedia – and multisensory – extravaganza combining sound and light and where nothing is fixed, with the musicians performing ‘in various constellations inside res·o·nant—a walk-through light and sound installation by the Düsseldorf conceptual artist Mischa Kuball situated in two of the famous Voids of the Libeskind building. For this specific edition Monika Werkstatt activated the joined forces of Beate Bartel, Danielle de Picciotto, Gudrun Gut, Islaja, Pilocka Krach, and Sonae. The Fab Five of Silicon-meets-Analog-Machine-Music set out to invite listeners to join them on a two-day, four hours-each expedition into the yet unknown, improvising with sounds and configurations while structuring the longue durée in sustainable packages by adding and subtracting members to the flow’.

And so the lineups for the two days differed slightly, with Islaja performing on day one only, and Pilocka Krach on day two only. Who played what and when is largely immaterial, as this s very much about the overall feel. It’s impossible to get the full measure of the experience on either day, but the beauty of digital releases is that time constraints and productions costs are much less of an issue, and as a consequence, we’re afforded a luxurious full – and precise – hour of material from each day as a separate track (and a separate release). As such, Ambient Session definitely hints at the immersive nature of the performances, even though the visual and spatial elements are absent.

In a certain sense, there isn’t much to say here: listening to ‘Day One’ there are some woozy uplifts and downtunes that lurch a little like rising steeply op or down a hill in a car on a hilly road while driving at night, but for the most part, it’s a glow, vaporous wash of sound that turns and drift slowly and gradually. Subtle beats appear and disappear, and everything is quiet and understated, even when clouds gather to cat shadows into darker domains, unsettling electronic bubbling, bleeps and whistles. But mostly it’s a steady exploration of soft-edged atmospheres: not a lot actually happens, and yet, somehow, it does. It all happens fleetingly, subtly, in the background. There are fleeting moments of dissonance, and brief passages where patterns emerge – be they niggling bass motifs, looped vocal snippets, or repetitive rhythms of a more percussive nature, but large portions of the audio is given to abstract noise that hums and drones on an almost subliminal level.

‘Day Two’ feels different. More electronic, more edgy, stammering more beeps and messages undeciphered and indecipherable stop start and shudder, juddering and halting the airwaves against gliding contrails of mellifluous drone. Sonar drones, reaching out into the darkness. Dense rumbles and fear chords creeping. This is darker, more ominous, more eerie – or at least the track is. Then again, there are rippling groves and metronomic beats that pulse amidst a swathe of reverb and murky tones. How representative of the performances as a while these segments are, we don’t know.

I am, sadly, reminded of the way recorded media fails to fully convey an experience, and how footage of live sows on YouTube compel me to append any share with the caveat that ‘you probably had to be there.’ There is never any real substitute for the three-dimensional experience: sound, light, space, the interaction of different stimuli on the senses, especially when applied simultaneously. But for all that, this is an immersive pair of longform recordings, and the journey they lead the listener on is one of sedate – and sedated – curiosity.

monika_95_day_one_jm_berlin

monika_95_day_two_jm_berlin

Potomak – 31st January 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

hackedepicciotto is Alexander Hacke (Einsturzende Neubauten) and Danielle de Picciotto (Crime & The City Solution), and The Current is their fourth album It’s pitched as being ‘their most powerful album yet,’ and the press release explains that ‘after composing desert drones for their previous album Perseverantia and dark foreboding melodies for Menetekel, their new album moves forwards, gaining in speed and energy’.

The energy is abundant, but it’s dark and flows in subterranean currents. Recorded in Blackpool, of all places, there is little sense of illumination in a work that’s dominated by shadow, although that’s by no means a criticism.

‘All people / are created equal’ de Picciotto announces in a stilted monotone which echoes out across a bleak and solemn soundscape of atmospheric, picked guitar and dramatic strings which glide and swoop over a swirl of electronic crackles, indistinguishable voices and dolorous bells. Over the course of the piece, she utters various permutations of the phrase, revealing new meanings with each arrangement.

There is very much an exploratory feel to The Current: this is not an overtly linear work, or an album comprised of songs in the conventional sense. These are eleven distinct ‘pieces’ which are more spoken word / narrative works with music than anything, although this misrepresents the fact the words and sounds are very much equal in their billing. And yet there is a sense of progression, as the rhythms become stronger, more forceful, and more dominant as the album progresses.

‘Onwards’ plunges downwards with a grating bass pitched against a relentlessly rolling rhythm; ethereal, choral vocal harmonies and cold, cold synths forge an unusual juxtaposition, and the result is powerful, stirring deep-seated emotions that swell in the chest as the energy rises.

In contrast, ‘Metal Hell’ goes post-industrial with metallic clattering an scraping disrupting a choppy, processed guitar riff that cuts a murky path over an arrhythmic mess of percussion, and the title track thunders a slow martial beat to build a grandly epic piece that conjures images of sweeping vistas dominated by rugged mountains and dense forests.

Things take a turn for the unsettling on ‘Petty Silver’, which finds de Picciotto writhe and wheeze in a sort of little girl lost voice against a backdrop of chiming xylophone and a heavy synth grind that’s pure Suicide. The penultimate track, ‘The Black Pool’ opens with a cluster of samples from news soundbites or similar about ow ‘the UK is fucked’ (fact, not an opinion) over some swirling ambient drone and a Michael Gira-esque monotone vocal trip

When the pair share vocal duties, Hacke’s cracked, grizzled growl is the perfect contrast to de Picciotto’s clean, airy yet tense and high-string delivery. And it’s the contrasts that make The Current: it isn’t any one thing, but a number of things simultaneously and while the rhythm section resonates deep and low, there’s lot going on at the front of the mix, and it’s this dynamic that gives the album a constant movement. To dissect it beyond this would be do damage the effect: The Current is an album that possesses a subtle force and brings submersion by stealth.

AA

hackedepicciotto – The Current