Hauschka – Elizabeth Bay (single) (City Slang Records – Europe / Temporary Residence – US)


Hauschka is the recording name of Volker Bertelmann, one of the most recognisable 21st Century proponents of what is known as prepared piano – one whose sound is altered by the insertion of alien objects between or upon its strings, hammers and dampers – he was barely aware of the champions of such a practice when he first began his experiments.

If you’re not already familiar with his work, do yourself a favour and take a quick read of Hauschka’s impressive achievements in Film, Music and Theatre/Dance.

Following an already stunning back catalogue of releases spanning a decade, Hauschka will be releasing a brand new full-length album entitled ‘Abandoned City’ in March 2014. In the interim, the song “Elizabeth Bay” has just been unveiled.

The track unifies Hauschka’s neoclassical composition with dance music rhythms.

With the  subtlest of shifts over the course of its 5:41 duration, “Elizabeth Bay” gradually becomes more and more complex with several piano counter-rhythms playing off of eachother. “Elizabeth Bay” is all about minimalism and repetition.

Around 1:30 hi-hats are introduced giving the song a danceable groove before the pattern slowly morphs into a delay-effected rhythm with a dubstep-esque sway, which also brings with it a sense of tension.

Its production is also peculiar characterised by layers of murky piano strikes and tinkering melodies, swirling panning techniques, and interesting microphone placements. As stated on the press release, the songs were recorded using nine microphones. Six recorded the sounds coming from the piano strings through an analogue console feeding directly into a computer to preserve the instrument’s full, warm sound. Three others passed the tones through a mixer full of effects – delay, distortion, echo – that can be triggered separately or used simultaneously. Hauschka creates the music and the arrangements as he goes, trusting the music to take him in the proper direction. “Most of the songs were played on one piano; I was mixing as I played. If I needed more piano, I overdubbed with another twiddling of effects. All the sounds – harp, balafon, Melodica, drums – are produced by the keyboard,” he explains.

An intriguing first taste of the upcoming record.

The album ‘Abandoned City’ will be released 17 March, 2014.

Listen to “Elizabeth Bay” below: