petak, 11. siječnja 2013.

Bersarian Quartet- II (2012)


Da je čovječanstvo evoluiralo na Marsu, razvivši se iz kamenja, na Zemlju bi gledalo sa zavišću i prkosno. Evo kako bi to zvučalo.

Finally the 2nd full length of one of the most talented ambient / electronic artists of today. "It's rare that I'm able to give an album my fullest recommendation without trepidation. (...) Bersarin Quartett is one such album. There's nary a misstep, every potential danger has been avoided and smoothed out to present the optimal audio experience for your dollar. (...) Something this good can't possibly be real." The Silent Ballet (8.5/ 10) Almost all reviews concerning Bersarin Quartett's self titled debut album chorused this paean. Four years later he's back with his long awaited 2nd album called "II". After turning Bersarin Quartett with 2 befriended guest musicians into a band project in 2011 and some successful and interesting live experiences in several countries it was time to bring the fragments of songwriting of the past years together to a new 13 tracks journey. Someone mentioned 4 years ago "This music could be written on a lonely island or onboard of a spaceship looking on our planet. Time becomes a new unit and feelings become more weight." That's exactly the feeling Bersarin Quartett still conveys in 2012. References to Stars Of The Lid, Ulver's Perdition City, Bohren & Der Club Of Gore and Cinematic Orchestra are fully justified.

Let’s get a few things out of the way before this review begins. First, Bersarin Quartett is not a quartet. It’s one person who goes by Thomas. He’s from Germany. Second, while some of his music uses synth strings that recalls the Kronos Quartet on Requiem for a Dream, his music hardly ever sounds like a string quartet or anything with four members. It is, at the same time, much more grand and much more sparse. So when you listen to this album (and you WILL listen to this album), do not expect anything from the name. Release any preconceived notions based on its implications.
Bersarin Quartett’s debut album paints with colors of deep hues, rich with vividness. No matter what sound he uses as his brush, Thomas sweeps across the canvas, covering the whole thing with one stroke. Opener “Oktober” sets the mood, perhaps the most string-centric song on the whole album, through gorgeous, open sections that sandwich a percussion-led section that grooves despite its stilted nature. While the song grows in volume, it never grows much in intensity, letting the mood and ambiance do all the work.
From there, it seems as the album might be another “pretty electronica” album based in chamber classical music, albeit a very good one. But as “Die Dinge sind nie so wie sie sind” (roughly translated, things are not as they seem) notes, Bersarin Quartett has something different in store. One of the longer songs on the album, it begins much in the manner that one might expect, with lush chords and distant piano strikes. But it grows.
This time not only in volume but also in intensity. A cymbal swell brings in a rhythmic ostinato that implies that the song might head into a jazz jam session. Ambience swallows that thought and leads to something more funky. It’s clear that this debut album is a genre-bending work of art. What sets Bersarin Quartett apart from other albums of its kind, however, is the way it blends genres. Instead of throwing them all together at once, Thomas lets each style stand on its own. The classical of “Oktober” and “St. Petersburg” stands next to the ambient electronica of “Inversion” and “Nachtblind.” This is not fusion. It is juxtaposition.
Even more remarkable than this ability to juxtapose genres is the ability to do so with such perfect minimalism. While not initially apparent because the chords are so full, the sounds so rich, there is hardly ever more than one melodic idea floating around at one time. At its most complex, the music consists of some washing ambient noise, chords, and some sort of percussion. In “Und die Welt steht still” (and the world is standing still) the second half of the song is so simple- a chord just grows and grows and grows to the point of nearly blowing the speakers, causing cracks and buzzes. At any moment, the music could implode on itself, and the next moments give that effect. Quickly, the sound fades away to reveal a layer of strings, that same melody that the growing chord swallowed. That layer never actually stopped playing.
The layers within this music, entirely independent to stand on their own yet helpful to develop the next idea, allow the music to accompany all moods. Unlike so many electronica albums, Bersarin Quartett has a universal appeal due to its many influences (“Endlich am Ziel” might fit onto an early Sigur Ros album while “Geschichten von Interesse” might do better with The Cinematic Orchestra) and colors. Closer “Mehr als alles andere” (more than anything else) breaks many of the standards the album holds for itself by showing that he can blend the genres he distinctly separates throughout the album while still introducing something completely new.
The strings and electronica come together, brought to a climax with a breakbeat, a sense of intensity the album never knew. Still, it works as a closer, bringing the album to a definite sense of finality. It is perhaps the resolution of all the false builds and all the tension created throughout the rest of the album. Make no mistake, Bersarin Quartett is an incredible release in the electronica world, but one that fans of many other genres will enjoy.-

What does it say about our lives when music critics repeatedly reward albums with a more-than-slightly dark edge? Are we really all modern day hermits: scared to leave the house and even more so of other people; or simply eager to sink into a sea of self pity and emotional immolation? The question of “why” withstands; the question of “how” does not. Nothing moves us more than tragedy. A brief glance at the most influential musicians of the past few decades will greet you with a recurring scene of loneliness, drugs and suicide; tell-tale signs of people who occupy their own space instead of the world around them. Sometimes the music itself seems irrelevant in all the context: it doesn’t take much to grab us when we’re in the mood. Walk into the past of Bersarin Quartett and you will find no such tragedy, or at least none so openly displayed. Despite the title, Bersarin Quartett is comprised solely of one Thomas Bucker and, despite the lack of emotional context, II might just be one of the most heart-stoppingly sorrowful records of this millennia.

Arriving in the midst of the recent neo-classical/ambient movement, Bersarin Quartett’s self titled debut rose to the top of the pile with its broad array of complementary styles, lush depth of warm strings and relative complexity amongst its competition. It was an extremely successful introduction to his treatment of music, if only a little bit eager to please. II takes what made the self-titled so brilliant and perfects it: it’s more beautiful, more experimental, and progresses in a much more restrained and considered manner. Music that manages to be startlingly graceful without pandering to the cliche styles of beauty. It has class, you could say, though not so much that it is impenetrable and certainly not to the extent that it hides its emotion entirely. From the opener, we’re greeted with different sides of the same coin: the more traditional, lamenting strings in “Im Glanze des Kometen” and the modern, relaxed retrospectiveness of “Jedem Zauber wohnt eine Ende inne” both convey a similar strain of despair. The variation here not being produced by a variety of moods, rather a continuous shift in style. As a result the overall tone is inescapable without being exhaustive; a singular entity that is continuously developed by the next track instead of repeatedly fractured.
Despite the variation present in II, Bucker certainly leaves his mark on each angle he portrays. Even in the more ambient pieces, large, swelling banks of strings are used to great effect. In the finale, “Nichts Ist Wie Vorher”, they’re used almost like a victory cry: rising above the subdued piano and hum of ambience in a brash display of joy and triumph after almost a full hour of morose contemplation. Likewise, the interwoven wealth of strings is often treated much like a staple sound whilst Bucker experiments in the background. Such is the case with “Heir und Jetzt”, which begins much like a rather standard, though stunning, neo-classical piece before introducing heavily distorted keyboards and the kind of pop-and-crackle percussion now associated with more urban styles of music. In its quite sophisticated air, II also remains inward looking. Tracks are never rushed - with the opener taking over a minute to even start - with motifs and patterns given room to grow into their full effect. In the same way the album never jumps at the chance to be instantly mesmerising, instead taking the more long lasting stance of subtlety. This is a decision best reflected in the latter parts of II, and indeed the album’s sure to sink you into the mood softly - as a result your preference for individual tracks will inevitably shift from the beginning to end. Sharpening not only your mood but taste as well.
Regrettably, albums such as this don’t come around too often; the world is far too full of cynics to fall for every emotional tirade that comes our way (at a rate of about three a day, by my count). However, none of these contain the intelligence, expertise or charm that II does. In every sense of the word it’s an album that is beautiful, but at the same time it is not a happy one. In the face of such brilliance, description alone seems as pointless as explaining the Mona Lisa to a blind man; you have to experience it in order to really appreciate it. Mesmerising from every perspective, II just might be Bucker’s masterpiece. We can only hope that it doesn’t slip by unnoticed. - Jonny Hunter

Bersarin Quartett (2010)


With some albums, you realize within a few seconds that here you have come across something really special. It is music that touches you straight away. Music that is important, that has a story to tell – and that manages to do so without even a single line of lyrics. Wonderful orchestral pieces full of longing and melancholy. It is that certain kind of melancholy that seizes you when you are moved while following the final credits of an emotionally touching movie, remembering special moments that have faded in the course of many years and linger hazily in your memory, when you are somewhat wistfully contemplating old, worn photographs from days passed by … not a feeling of failure or hopelessness, but a bittersweet reflection.

'It's rare that I'm able to give an album my fullest recommendation without trepidation.' (The Silent Ballett)

'An incredible release in the electronica world, but one that fans of many other genres will enjoy.' (SputnikMusic).

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