Bernholz has been collaborating with Neil Arthur of Blancmange.
Their new project is called ‘Near Future'; the duo have produced music and artwork through a series of timed email exchanges, resulting in the angular, percussive ‘Ideal Home’ as their debut single. The shared vocals and atmospheric production (with lyrics by Bernholz) maintain a balance between cold, detached observation and human feeling. The track has already received airplay courtesy of Gideon Coe on BBC 6Music.
Meanwhile, the B-side ‘Overwhelmed’ is more emotional. A quietly moving piece of music written and recorded by Bernholz, the track inspired Neil Arthur to write the words, take the lead vocal and add some further loops and sounds.
CFCF has produced an album that appears to come from a deeply personal place. For electronic music to sound this immersed in abstract personal feelings without ever becoming over-emotive or schmaltzy is an accomplishment in itself. For what initially appears to be a conceptual thread tightly holding the pieces together without trying too hard to make its intentions fully known is another. The music feels as if it is gradually revealing something about its author track by track, but still retaining a privacy, a reflection of the enigmatic musician who made it. The album sometimes plays like the soundtrack to a lost Aronofsky film, and at other times it belies its modern aesthetic with twists into Radiophonic territory, which becomes the most charming part of a section such as ‘Exercise 3 (Buildings)’, with its seemingly simple piano arpeggios developing into a moving piece that is far greater than the sum of its parts (at the start I was initially thinking “Sweeney Todd!?”).
Settling into the album and its trance inducing short, flowing, instrumental pieces, I found myself jarred by the surprise introduction of 80s pop vocals and garage beats in ‘Exercise 5 (September)’. That’s not to say it doesn’t retain the densely produced, dream-like aesthetic of the other tracks. But it is a seemingly odd choice to have an album that flows so beautifully otherwise interrupted with a full on song. Perhaps this is intentional, as a way of preventing the listener from settling into something that may become too familiar too soon, where the previous patterns of shifting piano chords and soft-synths have been hovering over somewhat similar territory. These are ‘Exercises’ after all. So are we to assume these are not complete works? Fragments of ideas loosely held together? I would see them as just the opposite, the album is a fully realised whole that perhaps takes a bizarre interlude as detour. They are exercises in as much as the titles suggest (Entry, School, Loss), part of life’s training, and learning more about one’s self as time passes.
The second release from Anti-Ghost Moon Ray records is the debut from Bernholz.
‘Consequences 1 (Variations on a theme)’ is a mixtape-come-mini album comprised of unused, reworked and freshly composed 4 track, reel to reel and digital experiments. It’s a small introduction to what will be the first fully realised album from Bernholz later this year.
It’s a free digital download available from antighostmoonray.com on 9 May 2011. You can stream it below, either as the split up tracks via the bandcamp widget, or you if you feel brave, there is the constant stream via the official.fm widget to listen to it as originally intended.
I will shortly be posting up an album, or mixtape, of sketches, tracks, and unfinished ideas that have never made it off my 4-track. In addition, there will be some new material that I am making, newly invigorated by rediscovering the creative process I’ve been missing for a while.
I recently discovered White Rainbow, who has done something similar, and I was just astounded by it. Judging by the title, it looks like there is more of this exciting material to come. Enjoy the album stream from bandcamp, and then buy the thing.