Ambijentalno-klasičarska supergrupa: Peter Broderick, Nils Frahm, Greg Haines, Martyn Heyne, Hilary Jeffery (Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble), Jan Kleefstra, Romke Kleefstra, Sytze Pruiksma i Iden Reinhart (Strië).
''The Alvaret Ensemble is a new improvisatory collective based around Greg Haines (piano), Jan Kleefstra (voice, poems), Romke Kleefstra (guitar and effects) and Sytze Pruiksma (percussion). This self-titled 2xCD/2xLP is our first release, and was recorded over three nights at the Grunewaldkirche in Berlin by Nils Frahm in August of 2011. In keeping with the spirit of the project, other musicians were invited to the sessions to add their own colour and further add to the spontaneity of the recording. In the end, those collaborators played an important part in defining the sound of the album ï¿½ Iden Reinhart played violin, as did Peter Broderick, while Hilary Jeffery (Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble etc.) provided the album with its mournful trombone tones. Martyn Heyne, who was just there to help out with recording, ended up unleashing the church's organ and bringing a completely new element and sense of power to the album. We had been talking about recording together for a long time before finally setting the date and the location, so there was a strong sense of anticipation as we began to set-up the space for recording. Then, without scores or discussion, we began to play. In the beautiful and bright acoustics of the Grunewaldkirche, it soon became clear that even when playing incredibly quietly, the sound still filled the room and the tiny details or blemishes that we began to notice in the sound became the compositional tools that informed the recording. Recorded entirely at night, the candlelit atmosphere further added to the level of concentration and interconnectivity, and quickly the pieces began to take on lives of their own ï¿½ it was as if with just a little guidance they would play out by themselves; as if the scores were already written and we were simply reciting what we had spent years composing. So many months of thoughts and ideas quickly began to pour out into something that instantly began to feel complete. Of course this feel of completeness was also supplemented with a sense of excitement that the idea was working, that something was beginning to take shape - that an album that we are now all immensely proud was being created right there, in the moment. We were left with around 12 hours of recordings, which we then spent months immersing ourselves in and began to craft something that would later become two discs ï¿½ something that can be viewed as two separate entities or as one lengthy statement. When all was in order, Nils Frahm and Greg got together in his workspace, Durton Studio, and mixed and mastered it with the precise attention to detail that the music deserved.'' - The Alvaret Ensemble.
Greg Haines is a musician and composer based in Berlin. He has released on Miasmah, Sonic Pieces and Preservation, and played concerts around the world, including across Europe, the USA, Japan and Australia. He also has created many scores for dance, including ï¿½Day4ï¿½ with choreographer David Dawson, performed by the Dutch National ballet and the Holland Symfonia.
The Kleefstra Brothers are members of the Dutch improv band Piiptsjilling, as well as working together on numerous releases with musicians such as Celer, Gareth Davis, Peter Broderick, Machinefabriek, Nils Frahm, Greg Haines, Sytze Pruiksma and Anne Chris Bakker. It invariably involves the experimental guitar playing of Romke in combination with the spoken word in Frisian (old European minority language) by Jan.
Sytze Pruiksma is a composer, sound artist and bird-watcher, traditionally educated as a classical percussionist at the conservatory of Amsterdam. After having played as a percussionist in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Dutch Philharmonic Orchestra (among others), he focussed on his own projects, developing an authentic way of playing that is characterized by a great attention for timbre, inspired on landscapes, nature and birds.
For fans of SET FIRE TO FLAMES, RACHELS, ARVO PÄRT and the ECM catalogue in general.
The Alvaret Ensemble is a modern composition supergroup that features Peter Broderick, Nils Frahm, Greg Haines, Martyn Heyne, Hilary Jeffery (Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble), Jan Kleefstra, Romke Kleefstra, Sytze Pruiksma and Iden Reinhart (Strië). Most people won’t need to read more. We’re used to hearing these folks help each other out from time to time, but having them all in one place at one time (the Gruewaldkirche church, Berlin, August 2011) is a sonic treasure.
With so many people and personalities, one might expect a raucous album, with every player attempting to get their sound in: strings and horns everywhere, piano keys strewn about with hopeless abandon, Jan shouting to be heard. The opposite is true. The Alvaret Ensemble is tender, quiet and restrained, and it may be the season’s most understated and introspective album. Its stark beauty is perfect for winter, when color has been leeched from the land and all has been laid bare. Instead of splaying its skills across the board, the ensemble pares its sound down to the barest elements. By drawing inside itself, the album conserves its energy like a hibernating bear. And when Big Moments are needed, it awakes.
It may seem counter-intuitive to note that despite the stripping down of sound, a lot is happening. Deciding when to be quiet, for how long, and in what way can require even more energy than going all-out. In this way, the album resembles Daniel Bjarnason and Ben Frost’s Solaris, recorded with an orchestra that was fully present but barely heard. The decision to record by candlelight, at night, in a church, certainly added to the sense of reverence. Cutting the twelve hours of recordings down to an hour and a half must have been a heartbreaking exercise. An hour and a half will seem either overly long or hardly enough, depending on the listener; it’s a generous amount, but it’s one that requires patient attention. Kleefstra’s Frisian poems may be impenetrable without liner notes, but they draw the ear away from other pursuits. As soft as the delivery may be, this is still a foreground album.
So what is Kleefstra saying? Those who purchase the hard copy will have the privilege of complete knowledge, although perhaps not interpretation (“Write a song for a bird that doesn’t exist. Write to all the dead that they should walk with the fire until there is enough water in the pail.”) The album is clearly devoted to winter, as evidenced by frequent references to wind, snow and ice; the final track moves forward to spring and summer. And yet, despite the ocean setting, a deeper, more elusive subject is at hand: thunderclouds, nightmares, tombstones, sleep. This is an expanded winter, a winter of the heart and mind.
A pervasive sadness is draped over the delivery; even in the closing track, Kleefstra seems resigned to an unknowable fate. And yet all around him the instruments offer consolation. Reinhart’s violin is a blanket against the cold, Haines’ piano an encouragement to put one foot in front of the other. Even Jeffrey’s humid trombone brings a balm of empathy, while Romke Kleefstra’s guitar seems to say, “I understand, my brother”. Heyne’s organ contributions, which were initially unplanned, offer a hint of spirituality, while Pruiksma’s percussion provides a pulse beneath a frozen land. The album was released on the longest day of the year, the winter solstice. From this point forth, by increments, the long days decrease as the earth moves closer to the sun. All is not lost; the known world and even the heart may be in stasis, but the slow melt awaits like an unexpired promise. - Richard Allen
Alvaret Ensemble, The, Kira Kira, Eiríkur Orri Ólafsson, Ingi Garðar Erlendsson, Borgar Magnason – Skeylja