Fennesz - Black Sea

CD - 8 tracks - 52 minutes

mastered by Denis Blackham at Skye on 28th September 2008
Photography and design by Jon Wozencroft

Track Listing:

1. Black Sea
2. The Colour of Three
3. Perfume for Winter
4. Grey Scale
5. Glide
6. Glass Ceiling
7. Vacuum
8. Saffron Revolution

Christian Fennesz used acoustic and electric guitars, synths, electronics, lloopp and computers

All tracks composed, performed, recorded and mixed by Christian Fennesz at Amann Studios, Vienna and C-street, Paris except "The Colour of Three" by Christian Fennesz & Anthony Pateras and "Glide" which was composed and performed by Rosy Parlane & Christian Fennesz (recorded live in Paris and then edited and mixed at Amman Studios).

Black Sea is Fennesz's 4th solo album for touch and his first since Venice in 2004.

"Black Sea is the much-anticipated new album from Christian Fennesz, his first since "Venice" [Touch # TO:53, 2004], about which US magazine Stylus wrote:

"Fennesz does with sound what Stan Brakhage did with film, altering its very fabric and texture, employing disorder and error as forms of communication and expression. He forces you to learn a different method of perception and interpretation, to look beneath the chaos that seems to govern the movements of life and find the patterns beneath.” [Nick Southall]

Fennesz's career has come a long way since "Instrument", his debut for Mego in 1995, and his first solo album "Hotel Paral.lel which followed in 1998. "Endless Summer" [Mego, 2001] brought him to a much wider audience and “Venice” underlined his mastery of melody and dissonance. His songs usually embody the skilful application and manipulation of dense sonic textures with a genuine feel for the live, and real-time.

Black Sea features guitars that rarely sound like guitars; the instrument is transformed into an orchestra. Fennesz lists the elements used to make the compositions: "Acoustic and electric guitars, synthesizers, electronics, computers and live-improvising software lloopp."

On ‘Glide’, Fennesz duets with Rosy Parlane (NZ) [www.rosyparlane.com], whose work is also released on Touch. Fennesz also teams up with eMego artist Anthony Pateras's (AUS) [http://www.anthonypateras.com], whose prepared piano features on "The Colour of Three". Fennesz pushes his work into a more classical domain, preferring the slow reveal to Venice’s and Endless Summer’s more song-based structures.

Jon Wozencroft’s artwork makes visible this carefully hidden world resting beneath the surface of “the first impression”. A series of shots, taken in quick succession as the tide recedes, reveals a world of specific activity only visible at a particular time and place, histories appearing and disappearing. Reviews:

Boomkat (UK):

At last, the wait is over. Christian Fennesz's follow up to 2004's Venice is upon us, and it's not likely to leave anyone disappointed. The ten-minute title track gets the album underway, opening tentatively with flickers of noise and digital debris crackling like fireworks in the distance. Soon a flood of symphonic guitar and electronics overwhelms the mix and we're reintroduced to the signature sound world that's unique to this man's music - he's one of the most imitated electronic artists out there, and yet you can always pick out the real thing from a line-up of clones. Not resting on his laurels, before 'Black Sea' is even three minutes in, the magnitude shrinks down to a simple duet between oscillating tones and brittle acoustic guitar plucks. It's from here that the piece begins to swell up with majestic, incredibly warm sustains and scratchy textural details - the whole composition feels like a reintroduction to the various facets of the Fennesz sound. Next comes the first of two collaborative pieces (although it should be pointed out that this one isn't available on the vinyl edition - and while we're on the subject, nor is the ambient miniature 'Vacuum' encountered towards the end of the CD and digital tracklists): 'The Colour Of Three' features Anthony Pateras (a veteran of Editions Mego and Sirr), who supplies some nicely clanking prepared piano tones, placing emphasis on the instrument as a percussive device rather than a string instrument. Despite this augmented instrumental range we're still in familiar territory thanks to Fennesz's transcendent digital eruptions and gloriously rich sound designs. 'Perfume For Winter' is a more restrained affair, filled with contemplative acoustic figures and abrupt organ-driven chord changes. We get our first real taste of explicit melody here, reminiscent of Endless Summer's most approachable tracks. Importantly though, there are no overt attempts to retrace footsteps back to that classic album, and Black Sea sounds vehemently like a step forwards for Fennesz. This sense of progression is underlined by the spine-tinglingly wonderful 'Glide', a duet with Rosy Parlane which takes Fennesz's wall of sound into the stratosphere, sounding like an unearthly orchestra. The music itself matches the increased magnitude: if Endless Summer was a digitisation and abstraction of The Beach Boys, 'Glide' could be said to apply the same transformative techniques to more classically-geared sounds - there's an undercurrent of elegiac romanticism that might reasonably be compared to fellow notable Austrian, Gustav Mahler, specifically the well-known fourth movement of his 5th Symphony (once famously plundered by Robert Lippok for his Open/Close/Open release on Raster Noton). After the quietly glistening, chime-like tones of 'Glass Ceiling' comes previous single and album finale 'Saffron Revolution', which is a suitably grand closing gesture, stretching out a single, euphoric multi-layered chord across much of its duration before dissipating away into a pattern of delayed string plucks. Black Sea is far and away one of the year's most beautiful records, both in terms of the music itself and the sheer iridescence of the electronic sound harnessed within. Very highly recommended indeed.



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Fennesz - Black Sea


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Track 8:  Saffron Revolution






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