Distributor/label: PIAS (UK/EU) / Ipecac (US)
Distributor/label URL: http://www.pias.com/uk/ and http://ipecac.com/
Released: 10th February 2014
– Thorsten Benning – Drums.
– Christoph Clöser – Saxophone, Piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, and Vibraphone.
– Morten Gass – Organ, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes Electric Piano, 8-String Bass, and Vocoder.
– Robin Rodenberg – Bass Guitar and Double Bass.
1. Im Rauch
2. Ber Rosarotem Licht
3. Fahr Zur Hölle
5. Ganz Leise Kommt Die Nacht
6. Segeln Ohne Wind
8. Verloren (Alles)
9. Komm Zurück Zu Mir
It’s a cold morning in London. Two jumpers worn, yet, to no avail, and the rain ceaselessly taps at my window. The sky is painted grey, with an indigo hue, and Bohren & Der Club of Gore are pervading my bedroom walls with their melancholic, though beautifully ambient mode of slow Jazz. Seldom is a soundtrack so fitting for its environment.
You see, ‘Piano Nights’ – the eighth full-length release of the German ensemble – has an unparalleled ability to wisp you away, captivating you from each song to the next, seamlessly flowing through you, all the while instantiating an almost trance-like state. You wonder whether you ought to instead reside within a monochrome movie, perhaps a drama of sorts – the world slows down for an hour, and your mind is free to wander. I don’t know whether this was their intention, but I’d like to think so. Regardless, this is a wonderful album. It’s filled with subtle intricacies that resonate with a sublimely-soothing tone in light of its exemplary minimalism, highlighting each seemingly minor alteration in timbre, texture, and key to the utmost degree. Bohren’s understated approach to their composition shines through the entirety, and I really cannot recommend this enough, even for those of you, such as myself, who may not otherwise lend their attention towards this genre.
Singling out particular tracks, I’m afraid, wouldn’t be suitable in this instance. It’s more akin to a vinyl: you have to free up some time, and allow yourself to simply sit – or stroll, in this case – and just, well, relax and listen. The vast majority of the album is in roughly the same key, and the instrumentation is a recurring theme. One moment you’re on track number two, the next, it’s culminating with its signature spectral ambience, all the while the eerie layering of creaking doors, reverb-laden synthesizers, and the warm embrace of a sombre saxophone emanate from the record onto you.
These things said, a word on the album’s title wouldn’t go amiss. Why did they choose ‘Piano Nights’? The most intuitive reason, for anyone who lends an ear, is the piano’s prominent role throughout; if the sound changes, the piano’s in all likelihood leading the way. But, the initial inspiration for the title sprang from the same seed as many great ideas: boredom. More particularly, the boredom of Christoph Clöser prior to a concert in Moscow, who, in an attempt to alleviate his monotony tried out a nearby grand piano, and was instantly struck by its profound presence. Admittedly, the grand piano was shelved in the recording to offer pride of place to a Yamaha Electric, though this more restrained alternative doesn’t fail to leave a lasting imprint. So, in short, if you’re looking for something a little different, this is undoubtedly worth a shot.
Review By Tom Payne