wesseltoft schwarz – duo (mulemuziq/jazzland records, 2011)

Henrik Schwarz is a recurring name around these parts. His jazz and classical influenced strain of techno/house manages to be minimal and also sublime, generally augmenting the usual head nodding beats with some beautiful melodies. Lush strings, far removed from the generic ‘anthemic dancefloor violins’, are a frequent feature, along with his love of the blue notes and jazz and ethnic tones. His latest project, Duo, a collaborative Lp with pioneering jazz keyboardist Bugge Wesseltoft was released this week on Mulemuziq and Wesseltoft’s own imprint, Jazzland records.

Since the mid nineties Wesseltoft has been a big player in the modern Jazz world, contributing the magnificent ‘New Conception of Jazz’ in 1997. This record sat perfectly between the late night atmospherics of the idm movement of the time and the more traditional feel of a jazz record. It’s combination of electronics and programming with the organic tones of double bass and brass took it one step further than the borrowed jazz motifs in the trip hop movement. It is clear that this techno loving jazz pianist and the jazz loving techno producer have clear areas of overlap.

Duo comprises of 8 tracks of varying tone and mood, ranging from the ambient and cinematic to the deep and urgent techno numbers. At times the piano is reminiscent of a laid back Keith Jarret, but set on top of skittering percussion and resonating bass. The appropriately named album opener ‘First Track’ evolves from smooth beginnings into an electronic crescendo, industrial sounds and weird electronics changing the mood of the track into something much more intense. Amongst the other tracks there’s a beautiful reinterpretation of Schwarz’s ‘Leave My Head Alone Brain’, the more refined and subtle percussion giving the piano greater room to breathe. The single from the collection ‘Kammermusik’ is a sublime piece of music. The quality of the record as a whole is excellent, but it’s on this track that the strengths of both collaborators are best combined and distilled into a gorgeous piece of electronic music.

This album will appeal to fans of ambient techno, and the more laid back work of the Scando disco crew, but also to anyone who can appreciate true musicianship, something which is missing from too many current records. It is available at Piccadilly now.

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amadou & mariam – je pense a toi – henrik schwarz mix (philomena 2010)

 

amadou & mariam, a pretty decent act of so called ‘world music’, and embraced / championed by another, more well-known ensemble such as manu chao, produced an excellent song back in 2005: ‘je pense a toi’ (i think (or thought) of you). Warm and touching violins, and catchy guitar chords plus heart wrecking lyrics form a solid track that rides on top of irresistible afrobeats.

solid enough for remixer supremo, and lover of strings, henrik schwarz to give it the necessary strokes to bring it closer to the dancefloor. this is, up to date, what it can be considered his masterpiece. solid drum beat and techno synths edging on acid touches were added to the original warmth from amadou & mariam, helping rise this tune to heights only reachable by some. scharwz kept intact the vocals completely, making this track difficult to pigeonhole. it works ace in any kind of dj set, even at home. it is up there in the pantheon with his other essential mix he did for wei chi on compost. this latter one a real monster of epic proportions (and length).

the schwarz treatment of ‘je pense a toi’ does not exist anywhere but on the elusive and highly limited vinyls released by german label philomena (and I think that affiliated somehow to innervisions). this philomena label is superb. every release is carefully crafted including its beautiful artwork.

what usually happens in this cases of ultra limited vinyl releases is that if they are good the sell out fast and, end up in discogs fetching serious money .

here you have the digital version of it for a very very limited period of time. enjoy it and drop some bucks on the record label. the next installment dedicated to Junior Boys. Prins Thomas (back in shape this time!) and  Marcel Dettman (pretty good minimal techno number) gives you both sides of another sublime philomena vinyl.