It’s been 3 years since KV fell in love with Salon Des Amateurs, so Hauschka’s (aka German neo-classical / experimental composer and musician Volker Bertelmann) Abandoned City was a much anticipated record around these parts.
As the name suggests, this is record with a colder, more industrial sound than its predecessor. The tracks are named after real-life abandoned cities. It gives the sense of taking us out of the club and on a shadowy tour of foreboding landscapes.
Elizabeth Bay has a 60s spy soundtrack feel, metallic percussion sounds like terrible old machines cranking back into life, or an empty underground train winding through dark tunnels.
Thames Town has a brooding dancehall / reggaeton type beat underpinning his signature prepared piano sounds. It conjures up images of a small, subterranean community dancing in the shadows – to my mind, at least.
Who Lived Here? is heartbreakingly melancholy, piano and woodwind instruments meld together in a lonely chorus. By contrast Agdam has a much more urgent pace, it reminds me of listening to my Dad’s cassette of the Giorgio Moroder’s soundtrack to Midnight Express while driving through Slough Trading Estate on the way to school in the late 80s. But, I digress, the sense of foreboding also makes me think of 28 Days Later.
Hauschka has talked of depicting an “inner tension” on the record, which certainly runs through the album, particularly on tracks like Sanzhi Pod City with its plucked strings and unsettling rattling noises.
Craco is quite stripped back and restrained. It’s more of straight piano piece than on many of his tracks, very haunting and beautiful.
Stromness the album’s closer feels very much like a musical epiologue, with a trippy crescendo and then fading out solemnly.
I continue to be amazed at this man’s talent and musicianship. The fact that he was able to record this in only 10 days following the birth of his first son bowls me over.
Abandoned City’s eerie soundscapes are bleak and evocative. At times they are so nightmarish they could rouse David Lynch from a lunch time nap. It is however, rather infectious and an album worth experiencing and savouring: both in your ears and your mind. The album is out now on City Slang.