Fennesz - Seven Stars

Printer inner and outer colour sleeve

***If you buy this 10" in the TouchShop, you also get a free download of a remix of 'Shift, 'Reshift'***

Design & photography by Jon Wozencroft

Recorded in Studio B, Amannstudios, Vienna. Acoustic and electric guitars, bass, synths, computers

Side A

1. Liminal 3:07
2. July 5:06

Side B

3. Shift 6:47
4. Seven Stars* 3:01

*Seven Stars features Steven Hess on drums, recorded at Amannstudios by Christoph Amann

Fennesz's first solo release since Black Sea [Touch # TO:76, 2008] is a 4 track 10" vinyl, with a CD version due in September 2011. It will also be available as a digital download. Using acoustic and electric guitars, bass, synths, computers, Fennesz continues to engage and entrance us in equal measure.

Fennesz writes: "Seven Stars was recorded in Vienna in January 2011. I recorded and mixed the album within 3 weeks. Liminal and July were existing pieces which i have reworked. (I wrote an early version of Liminal in a hotel room in Bali in 2010). There is also a version of Liminal that I have been playing live for some time. My friend Steven Hess, with whom I have worked before, happened to be in Vienna at the time of the sessions, so I invited him to join me in the studio. Christoph Amann recorded the drums using a selection of his great microphones including his amazing new Josephson.

I wanted to make a record that has a certain lightness about it and at the same time explore new territory using drums on one track. This might be something I will continue with in the future."

Fennesz's third collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Flumina, is due out in November on Touch.

www.fennesz.com www.touchmusic.org.uk


Pitchfork (USA):

It's weird to think of a Christian Fennesz record as "comfort food," but that's what living with an experimental artist's work will do. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Austrian avant-guitarist and corrupted software whiz trafficked in the harsh and unpredictable "glitch" sound of his benefactors at the Mego label. But as he began to play openly with the surf's-up sound of 60s pop on 2001's Endless Summer, listeners not usually into grating improvised noise began to find a way into Fennesz's world. He became one of the 21st century's more improbable crossover figures, and one of its most inventive advocates for bringing the guitar into a brave new laptop world.

Fennesz's music hasn't shied away from darker places since, but his love of twisted beauty allows people a chance to become familiar with, even soothed by, a sound that seems decidedly not-for-everyone on the surface. A four-track EP, Seven Stars is Fennesz in an almost purely placid mode, not too dissimilar to what he was exploring a decade ago. The least comfortable moments here, like "July", aren't all that different from the dark ambient the Aphex Twin was exploring circa SAW II. Even the metallic buzz that rises like the sound of insects on a summer night stays on just the right side of being shrill. Tracks like "July" and the cinematic "Shift" are about as uncomfortable as music can get while remaining immersive rather than alienating.

The last few years have seen a glut of day-at-the-beach acts using digital tools to capture a sense of summertime fun. Aside from the fact that he arguably got there first with Endless Summer, Fennesz's music is never quite so glib or obvious, attempting to capture the vibe of bands like the Beach Boys without the aid of quotes, hooks, harmonies, or even the stable ground of pop song structure. On "Liminal" and the title track, he evokes the heartsick string arrangements of the Pet Sounds era with unnatural swells of computerized sound that nonetheless have a real low-key emotional punch. And while his guitar is both bright and sad, a pure 60s balladeer tone, his playing still follows an improviser's inscrutable logic. Seven Stars is a welcome if not surprising dose of what Fennesz has been doing well for a decade now, playing on the thin edge between familiar pleasures and the truly out-there.

Boomkat (UK):

Fennesz's first formal solo release since 2008's Black Sea LP is as impeccably wrought and moving as you'd expect from the Austrian master, comprised of four pieces that are short in duration but cosmic in scope. He really is at the top of his game at the moment, making some of the most naturalistic, melodically generous but texturally complex music of his career to date: 'Liminal' projects his aching, echo-drenched guitar phrasing across a smoky screen of stirring strings; 'July' is a visceral yet carefully modulated drone piece, with desert-blues inflections rising slowly and elegantly out of forbidding scorched earth ambience. 'Shift' heads into deep space, its stargazing organ tones layered with such grace and authority as to put all those young kosmische chancers to shame, but the best is saved for the closing and title track: there's a return to the plangent, reverbed guitar chords and liturgical strings of 'Liminal', but this time brushed drums and bass are deployed to give all that yearning some extra movement and direction. Most artists would struggle across an album to achieve the depth, range and all-round grandeur that Fennesz compresses into this superlative 10".

Norman Records (UK):

Always lovely to get some vinyl from Touch and this I believe is their first 10" record, perfectly suited to contain these four tracks from the esteemed Christian Fennesz. Here he's operating with acoustic and electric guitars, bass, synths and of course computers. Opener 'Liminal' is a wonderfully dreamy and evocative number with lovely guitar, trademark layers of static and fuzz. Its very easy going and ultimately tranquil if a little melancholy. 'July' shifts into darker terrain with otherworldly low end rumbling juxtaposed with high pitched tones and then in the middle lies a slowly mutating and transforming slab of sound design which mirrors Jon Wozencroft's light peeking through darkness images that adorn the sleeve. This is Fennesz at his most dark and mysterious and its really is very intriguing. Things ease up in intensity as the track gradually dissolves and fades away. 'Shift' is the longest running number of the four and really does hit the spot with celestial, shimmering organ sounds that take thing astral. A fantastic sonic journey, deep into the cosmos and brilliantly executed. Finally Steven Hess makes an appearance on drums for Seven Stars which moves swiftly in a different direction with reverbed guitar strings and gently brushed drums. Steven's understated drums meet perfectly with the extremely tender and emotional moods created by Christian's expert deployment of sounds. Great to have him back with this, his first solo release since the Black Sea album. Gorgeous music that's highly recommended.

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Fennesz - Seven Stars

MP3 sample

Track 1:  Liminal

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