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Koenraad
Ecker: Sleepwalkers in a Cold Circus (Line)

Koenraad
Ecker’s 2nd album is a fascinating headlong dive into
experimental sound and amplified acoustics. Its linear sounds and
silences, often surprising and unsettling, remind me of the boldest
musique concrete of pioneers Bernard Parmegiani or Pierre Schaeffer.
It’s unclear as from where most of Ecker’s sounds originated, but
their amplification, juxtaposition, and contrasts to one another make
for some pretty intense and fascinating listening. I hear weather,
electronics, and objects, often hard to separate from one another,
along with conspicuous use of silence for optimal impact. The
repetitious microtones of “Kreupelhout” add a strange sense of
urgency or alarm to Ecker’s otherwise somnambulant and vague
atmospheres. “There Are No Eyes Here” has all of the tension of
vintage Penderecki or Bartok, atonal string drones and harmonics
vying for position in an otherwise stark, cold landscape.

At times
it’s downright scary, a disorienting cloud of drones, tones, scrapes,
and textures. “Shadow Puppets” leads with a thunderous strike of
piano bass before a colloidal flutter of sound consumes it, like a
thought that hasn’t quite fully resolved itself. Clicks and pops of
wet reverb pierce the vibrating atmosphere to great effect, all
tension with little resolve. Even the closing track, “Ivory Rang in
the Air,” writhes with tension and nervous energy before it
essentially fizzles out with a shudder. It’s best experienced as a
whole to experience the full spectrum of Ecker’s sound design,
wherein the lines between electric and acoustic, clarity and
obfuscation become finer and less obvious. It’s a bold collection of
tracks that both harken back to the new music of the mid 20th century and look forward to how those references and techniques
relate to our ears in 2015. Good stuff.

Buy it: Line