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FELIX KUBIN & ENSEMBLE INTEGRALES - Echohaus

Format: do-LP
Label & Cat.Number: Dekorder [049]
Release Year: 2010
Note: highly experimental collaboration by FELIX KUBIN (ex KLANGKRIEG) with ENSEMBLE INTEGRALES, a contemporary music chamber group, who work together based on a special recording technique (the musicians played simultaneously under headphones in separate rooms) .. the result is 15 pieces of really daring & unusual miniatures; "a fine piece of work where dissonance and discordance, horripilation and disconcerted listening teeter into sometimes quavering moments of reflexive beauty" [Freq.org]
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More Info

"This latest project by the Hamburg-based musician, composer, and futurist, Felix Kubin, (his second release on Dekorder) is a collaboration with the contemporary music chamber group, ensemble Intgrales, and the reknowned German underground pop producer and sound engineer, Tobias Levin.

Echohaus was recorded in and around Levin's Electric Avenue studio in the basement of WESTWERK, a former squat and cultural centre for non-commercial art and music in Hamburg. A special recording technique was developed for the project whereby the musicians played simultaneously in separate rooms, connected to one and other only by headphones. This was done in order to achieve a lively,cinematic" sound that made use of the particular dynamics of the rooms and amplified mechanical details. The rooms, each of which had a different acoustic character, were used as natural echo chambers. Kubin and the composer Burkhard Friedrich, former member of ensemble Intgrales, provided the musicians with simple graphic scores or basic descriptions of the compositions; all subsequent material was developed on the fly. Kubin was in the mixing room giving instructions and suggestions, while the musicians played and improvised, adding their own ideas to the project.

No artificial reverb or effects were added to the recordings. The different types of rooms and microphones, noises inside and outside of the studio, as well as the unusual interrelationship between the physically isolated players became part of the process. All the tracks were recorded in one take without any additional layers or track-by-track recordings. After a five-day recording session Kubin and Levin created various mixes which Kubin then edited over a period of several months.

The final results mark yet another radical departure from Kubin's trademark Sci-Fi Pop sound, blending the aesthetics of academic contemporary music, film soundtracks and improvised music with a strong focus on room-specific natural acoustics." [label info]



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"Branching out into conceptual composition with Ensemble Intgrales, Felix Kubin acted as a sort of central engineer/conductor for this piece, with each instrument recorded live with no overdubs in separate rooms at the Westwerk cultural centre in Hamburg under Kubins supervision, and the results edited by him down into the resulting album. As a result, each room sound is almost as important as the tones recorded for the instruments concerned, and the results certainly resonate with the nuances of each space in the final mix, especially when listened to on headphones which is probably the best way to appreciate the textures of the recording.

Its also perhaps inevitable that the terms electro-acoustic and musique concrte will crop as reference points when describing both the techniques and sounds of Echohaus and justifiably too. Theres plenty of scraping, creaking, twisting and plinking, honking, squittering electronics and keening breaths, mournful drones and pizzicato strings among the synthesized interventions, in between the electro-mechanical susurrus and thumping among gentler ripples on piano and violin, with vaporous electronic reflections trickling subtly or otherwise across the dissociated (but not disembodied) studio space. The improv is strong here, quite happy to let rip into spine-tingling moments very close indeed to the fingernail/blackboard interface.

So drumkits give their best falling down the stairs impressions (though it frequently does seem like that baskets full of household good are being given a good thrashing ), and there are moments where stereo-panned strings rise in counterpointed waves which could quite possibly drag the listener into a state of panicked delirium. What is particularly enjoyable are those moments where the music moves through space as Kubin manipulates the mix, with deep bass throbs and high-pitched whines circling the clatter of percussive motion across the soundscape he creates with the Ensembles sounds. Is that the sound of one room bleeding and/or receding into another, or is it just the natural echo? Who can tell, and does it matter too much?

To keep calling this sort of music avantgarde is perhaps to hang onto a term which sometimes seems to be almost backward-looking, given the decades in which this modernist form has developed (or otherwise) but even so, the recording technique is, if not at the advance guard, at least experimental in some form or other. But so much for labels this is largely a fine piece of work where dissonance and discordance, horripilation and disconcerted listening teeter into sometimes quavering moments of reflexive beauty. Echohaus engages the senses fully, and the way in which it was recorded and produced being ultimately secondary to the results, which, while often difficult or flat-out challenging listening, are certainly none the worse for that." [Freq.org]