John Lemke: Walizka (Denovali)
Glasgow-based composer John Lemke’s EP starts with a delicate, jaunty piano number that almost inspires dance, with a tiny oompah in its bass clef and tiny percussion sounds that could very well be piano innards as much as household objects. It reminds me of Piano Interrupted in its combination of acoustic sounds and electronic programming and sequencing, with an infectious melody augmented by a floating melodica.
“Kompass,” by contrast, is far more languid and gloomy, with distinct wetness in its spacious arrangement. The spring reverb on his beats make it the most obviously dub-influenced piece found here, sounding like Mark Nelson’s material in Pan American or Labradford. “Drift” splits the difference, sounding a bit gloomier than “Walizka,” but far more upbeat and along similar lines otherwise. The dub effects are still prominent, but the piano and bass dance within one another in such a way that it feels harmonious and effortless.
It should be no surprise that Piano Interrupted actually contributes a remix of “Waliska,” although rather than the percussive treatment of Lemke’s original, PI opts to strip all of the rhythmic elements out almost entirely, leaving a lonely piano and tense, light string drones in its wake. Two remixes of “Kompass” follow, and the first, by Saffronkeira, is even more sublime than the original, still sounding dubby but eschewing much of the original’s full low-end.
But the stronger of the two “Kompass” remixes is that by Everyday Dust, turning the entire track into a hazy, shimmering fog of sound, diffuse with light and gaseous in form. Finally, Petrels manipulate “Drift” into a nine-and-a-half-minute rework, initially patiently bobbing with a steady groove before evolving into something more lush and sprawling, no longer relying on Lemke’s piano as a primary element, but instead letting the chords turn into pads and clouds of sound. By the time the track reaches its final movement, the beats completely disappear, and it’s all reverb and decay to a good effect. Each of Lemke’s originals is quite compelling on its own, and the remixes are a hearty bonus and a smart complement making the entire EP quite satisfying. Fans of Morgan Packard, Murcof, Piano Interrupted, or Hauschka are likely to enjoy Walizka.