“REAPING FROM THE CONFLUX”
(w/ MICHAEL SCHÖNHEIT)
[ 30. 10. 2020 ]
“NOW SMILE (LIVE)” ()
“GARDEN OF STONE”
[ 30. 11. 2018 ]
06.09.19—RIVIERA FESTIVAL, OFFENBACH (DE)
REAPING FROM THE CONFLUX:
Philipp Hülsenbeck and Michael Schönheit entered their collaborative space, the Great Hall of Gewandhaus Leipzig, in spring 2019, in order to explore the sonic potential of the Schuke organ juxtaposed with unrestrained electronic synthesis and otherworldy digital processing. With ease, clarity and fruitful respect towards the others craft, they composed Reaping From The Conflux, an hour long work of music, condensed in a synergy of opposing musical aesthetics, teetering between acoustic instrumentation and digital manipulation — a push and pull between discordance and tranquility. Intermingling the organic with the inorganic in an unbiased exchange, Hülsenbeck and Schönheit created a dense work shifting from sombre to celestial, leaving enough space in the room to allow sound to breathe. In order to interweave digital and material realms, Hülsenbeck’s software synthesizers blasting into the concert hall were given the same attention as the 6.845 pipes making up the gigantic organ, an instrument often referred to as the queen of instruments.
The sharp, synth-driven Peak Independence is counterpointed by the serenity that inhabits the repeating Basso Ostinato in Entities as well as Hülsenbeck’s piano playing on Now Smile. The latter two pieces feature contributions by Schönheit’s wife Katharina Dargel (Gewandhausorchester Leipzig) on viola, Tsepo Kolitsoe Pooe (The Miagi Orchestra, The String Archestra) on cello and Johannes Weber (Unguarded, Jungstötter) on double bass.
GARDEN OF STONE:
At first glance, “Garden Of Stone”, the inaugural solo record by P.A. Hülsenbeck, seems to ripple serpentine. Scales over flesh topple softly as a snake piles high in the dim. A texture nearly like an overcoat, a shape almost like a huddled body. Almost, until Hülsenbeck’s hand beckons you into the reality that this is no snake, this is P. A. himself.
Garden Of Stone is a molt, a shedding of one old thing to reveal something new. But instead of the shirking off of some glistening scaled skin the record’s nine pieces shed the raw human experience and from its depths rises Hülsenbeck.
P.A.’s voice, much like his image on the album cover, is hidden under each piece. He uses his voice as an instrument that drifts in from somewhere deep, dark, and below. In front, around, above, and underneath swim guitar, synthesizer, koto, saxophone, trumpet, horn, drums, and bass to provide a soft, lush foundation. From somewhere distant, each note carries the gentle scent of tall pines, forgotten cabins, and damp but breezy oceans.
Each piece in this album reminisces of a well laid plot, they swell to retreat, ebb to flow and just as a distortion begins to drift in, some swift wind carries the melody away. P.A. Hülsenbeck’s music is the outcome of the search for sound, a polyphonic reflexion of the music itself. It is organic. It moves in the darkness and dances in the open; exposed and forever drifting.
When after Hülsenbeck’s first band Sizarr ceased to exist, the musician radicalized his language under the Doomhound moniker. After one year of touring he finally began to shed his electronic hide to reveal something gentle and new. Here is his skin.
Hülsenbeck’s new album dances the way flesh might, whether it be by serpent or some other body. This is a response to P.A.’s research in the corporeal realm. Beginning in Leipzig, P.A. became engulfed in techniques that explore the relationships between body and mind through exercises in expressive movement improvisation. In other words, he began to dance. And through those physical techniques, he found the philosophy that from now on determines his approach: turn the inside out without question and give it freely to the outside world. A process in which Hülsenbeck routinely finds himself practicing in the distinctive dreamland of “Garden Of Stone”.
It is here in this seemingly bleak landscape of hard and nothing that he realizes: he is surrounded by everything he needs—he just has to put the pieces together.
It is most obvious when listening to the debut’s first single, “A Serpent Of Velour”: “When the scorpion kissed a careless heart / It was yearning to be torn apart.” The music becomes a journey. This stone garden begins to blossom. Here is where we get to know a Self that is both observant and exposed to the observed. Insects crawl over fabric, memories fade away, desire emerges. While “Anima”, “Säule” and “Vessel” are instrumental, the other six pieces on “Garden Of Stone” tell stories that conjure up a person who blossoms in the ether behind: P.A. Hülsenbeck is truly himself.
The record was produced by the Berlin based musician in collaboration with his friend Tim Roth (Ex-Drangsal). It was recorded by Joe Haege and Fritz Brückner (both of White Wine). Fritz has also played Bassoon on “Survey”. Drums played by Johannes Döpping, Electric Bass and Upright Bass by Johanne Weber (Jungstötter), Horn and Trumpet by Max Kraft. Everything else played by Hülsenbeck. — Hendrik Otremba