nedjelja, 31. ožujka 2013.

Field Rotation - Fatalist: The Repetition Of History (2013)

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Christoph Berg's latest Field Rotation full-length, Fatalist: The Repetition of History, is an even more satisfying collection than 2011's Acoustic Tales. Five years on from the project's inception, the new work reveals that Field Rotation has matured into a fully-formed and refined outlet for the electronic music composer's classically oriented compositional and production talents. The fatalistic notion of history endlessly repeating itself is the underlying concept, but no one need be acquainted with the philosophical works of Hegel and Nietzsche (and a related idea such as Eternal Recurrence) in order to reap the recording's rewards. For the six electro-acoustic settings, Berg augmented his violin and piano playing (plus, based on the aural evidence, field recordings and samples) with contributions from vocalist Mari Solaris on one piece and violincellist Aaron Martin on two.
The forty-two-minute recording's dramatic tone is set by the opening strings-heavy drone “The Uncanny,” but Fatalist: The Repetition of History really begins to distinguish itself with the advent of the second piece “Valse Fatale.” Solaris brings her haunting vocal presence to the piece, and her wordless singing deepens the music's mournful tone, especially when it's coupled with Martin's violincello playing and Berg's sparse piano accompaniment. Part of the pleasure involved in listening to Berg's music is that the means of production never intrude upon the pure experience of listening; though an undercurrent of vinyl crackle running through “Fatalist” suggests sampling, the listener's focus is rarely diverted away from the music into pondering how it was assembled and to what degree the elements in play are acoustic or electronic in nature. Outdoors field recordings figure heavily into “The Repetition of History,” though not so dominantly that the gently cascading piano and violincello phrases are drowned out.
At album's end, the dream-like “The History of Repetition” makes good on the album title and concept in using loops to fashion a softly undulating base of dust and mist over which a celestial choir can be heard intoning ever-so-faintly. As should be patently obvious by now, the recording's prevailing mood is, of course, melancholy, with Berg shaping the elements into oft-hypnotic soundscapes of fragile and serene character. That it makes its case in such concise manner also enhances its appeal. -

The liner notes curb the discussion at fate, but the track titles expand it to fatalism and recurrence. So before the music starts, composer Christoph Berg serves up the paradox that is the classical view of predestination. Most of our lives are out of our control already, without a visit at birth from the oracles and cauldron folk. The cycle of being born, growing old, becoming sick and dying is all but completely out of our hands. The cycles-within-cycles of cold weather and warm, storms and drought, freeze and thaw, planting and harvest bedevil us even now. The sudden job layoffs, erratic energy prices and dizzying macroeconomic cycles – for which we are ostensibly to blame as a whole – even more so.
That was not a terribly uplifting salutation, but Berg’s latest Field Rotation offering, Fatalist: The Repetition of History, is not an uplifting place. The blank patches of canvas – so warm and timbrous throughout Acoustic Tales – are space-cold here, and processed to sound space-distant. The upward glance is not star gazing, but star charting, a search for signs of determinism among the heavenly bodies. When pondering Jupiter’s designs for your fate, why not start by consulting his orbit?
Departures from previous material continue: the virtuosic meandering’s of Berg’s given-name debut Paraphrasesare simply abandoned here. The alloyed fog accumulates in its opening seconds, and the rest is pre-written: a slow, horizontal, ambient myth, starring a nihilistic performer, a siren, and a pantheon of vain gods conjuring stark magic. Yet it is more communal than Acoustic Tales, the title of which implies one man speaking without a microphone, as if to a small group. Here, Berg chairs a town hall meeting. The fact that we all die alone means we’re all in this together.
The brief tracklist begins with “The Uncanny,” no doubt a reference to Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud’s essay by the same name:
This invention of doubling as a preservation against extinction … [has] sprung from the soil of unbounded self-love, from the primary narcissism which dominates the mind of the child and of primitive man. But when this stage has been surmounted, the ‘double’ reverses its aspect. From having been an assurance of immortality, it becomes the uncanny harbinger of death.
It takes only this inaugural moment to realize that the same soil has engendered a much different harvest. We are aware of Berg’s violin, but not his bow, and the gorgeous ambient echoes belie a much larger room. WhereAcoustic Tales and Paraphrases transport us to an imagined place, it is still a place. Here there is no country, real or imagined. Or perhaps the country is Shakespeare’s undiscovered one, although that, too, is a misnomer, since the late playwright has indeed discovered it by now.
“Valse Fatale” begins with the siren described earlier, and a minimal, incremental bass. Waltz, indeed. Berg responds with piano and violin: an organic, perhaps birdsong effect that is simply hypnotic. “The Repetition of History” repeats it, what could become a historical riff. (The beauty at times seems to surprise even Berg. IfAcoustic Tales was sublime to the point of preening, Fatalism is strangely modest. The violinist seems to echo our own sentiment: What was that? I rather enjoyed it.) Album closer “The History of Repetition” is droning, choral, looping, and ever-celestial. The January doldrums have just lifted. The new year has announced itself with a new, achingly beautiful release from one of our most important composers.
Fatalist: The Repetition of History will be available for pre-order from Denovali in February, in CD, vinyl and digital formats. - Fred Nolan for Fluid Radio

Last I heard from Christoph Berg he was bidding adieu to the place he grew up and was leaving for good, the port city of Kiel, which he called a cold, oppressive place where the Baltic Sea and sky were always grey. His contribution to the “Rivers Home” set of ten, 3″ CDRs (Flaming Pines) was the most emotionally wrenching of the entire series. He may have left for Berlin, but he certainly has taken a heavy heart with him. “Fatalist: The Repetition of History” is drizzly, subtly textured, etched into a dark, foliated slate of drone.
Violinist, pianist and composer Berg trades under the name Field Rotation, blending acoustic instruments, natural and synthesized sounds into gentle undulations. Fatalism means eternal and inevitable iteration, and while each of these six pieces are cyclical, a slight variation can be heard in each new revolution. Critics seem to lean toward categorizing him as one of the so-called “indie classical” composers, but the album bears more of a family resemblance to The Caretaker´s “Persistent Repetition of Phrases” and his “Sadly, The Future is Not What it Was” released as Leyland Kirby , in spirit if not matching-fingerprint style. The disc is matte black stuck onto a matte black tray and the cover  art is Caspar David Friedrich romantic, an abandoned meadow over which the full moon cannot cast enough light, and the music unapoligetically spooky. But like Kirby´s work, it recreates memories that warm as they chill, which, like the title track, is “The Uncanny” thing about his work.
The worldless soprano of Mari Solaris dances slightly macabre with Aaron Martin´s cello on “Valse Fatale”, while Berg´s violin hearkens closest to Kirby´s haunted ballroom layered in cobwebs of vinyl crackle on the hesistant “Fatalist”. Characteristic for Field Rotation is the small gesture on a wide, otherwise empty stage, the effect all the more powerful for the space around it. “History (Fragment)” is a perfect example of his economy, just a few notes eddying ambiently until joined by piano, a melody that seems so familiar. “The Repetition of History” brings us back to the ashen shores of the Baltic and to Martin´s rasping cello in poised and restrained but dramatic elegy. Finally, “The History of Repetition” stretches twice the length of most of its predecessors, sublime contemplation of the drear landscape before him lifted into the realm of spirituality, underneath a huge sky, both near and very far away. -

The work that Christoph Berg produces in his Field Rotation guise is darker than the work he produces under his own name.  The timbre is smoky and grey.  The passages seep across the sound field, acting more like tendrils than trunks.  One can imagine being lost in the woods as a deep mist drenches and descends.  If Berg’s work is mid-spring, then Field Rotation is late fall, when the world is growing more mysterious.
Acoustic Tales, released in 2011, was more immediate than Fatalist, so the sprawling nature of the new album may catch some listeners by surprise.  The elements are still present: creeping strings, thoughtful piano chords, occasional operatic ooohs.  This time around, the music seems content to coil without striking, reflecting the nature of the title.  Fatalist honors the theory that all things are cyclical, but does so with the weary resignation of an Ecclesiastes rather than with the joy of Japanese art.  In this mindset, history repeats itself like nature; we are doomed to make the same mistakes all over again.  (Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park quipped that we aren’t making the same mistakes, we’re making new ones.)  It’s not clear whether Berg shares this worldview, but on this album, he effectively expounds upon it.  It’s impossible to be motivated by this music, which seems to whisper, stay in bed, stop trying, it’s no use.
The first half of the album stays away from overt repetition, which makes it more engaging.  Strings and samples do repeat – after all, the subtitle is The Repetition of History - but they do so more gently than the piano in the second half.  Ironically, the most engaging track is the one that is almost not there: the ultra-quiet title piece, in which atmosphere trumps music.  In this piece, static pops resist the soft interruption of strings, rather than the other way around.  By the end of this stark album, the repetition itself has become a burden, which may be the point.  In the same way as Buddhists seek to escape the cycle of death and rebirth, those listening to this album may find that they do not agree with fatalism, at least on a smaller scale, and may discover the impetus to change.  (Richard Allen)

Field Rotation was founded 2008 by the electronic music composer and producer Christoph Berg in Kiel, Northern Germany. Experimenting with electronic and classical elements this project combines floating soundscapes with electroacoustic colours to create minimalistic soundtracks renouncing of visualisation but interacting with the listeners emotions and feelings. As a violinist and pianist Christoph combines the synthetic sound engineering with natural sounds to communicate his short acoustic tales and impressions.
After various EPs, remixes, collaborations, and compilation contributions, his main release so far, the album 'Acoustic Tales', was released in 2011. It is certainly an understatement to say that 'Acoustic Tales' received a positive response from both the general audience and the music press:
"like a melancholic Max Richter – but just as beautiful as his music" (Jazzthetik)
"a stylistic flair rarely seen in today's over-populated musical landscape." (The Silent Ballet)
"a work which will doubtlessly cause the last minute re-writing of many 'best of 2010' lists (…) appeal(s) to fans of Rachel's, Max Richter or perhaps Peter Broderick." (Futuresequence)
"unexpected, devastating, and timeless work." (The Muse In Music)
"eleven acoustic tales of stirring beauty" (Morpheus Music)
"... one of the most haunting albums of the year." (Fluid Radio)
With his new album Field Rotation concentrates on the more classically based production, continuing and expanding upon the musical idea of his 'Acoustic Tales' project. 'Fatalist: The Repetition of History' is marked by a noticeable inner fragility, the contrast between bitter harshness and stirring melancholy. In the fatalist view of history, the ancient Greeks thought that just as the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter repeat themselves every year, history would do the same and follow a cyclic course. This may or may not be true, however, Field Rotation has certainly succeeded once again in composing an album which will ease as many minds as it will thoroughly shake.

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