Track 1 recorded during the concert @ “het oude Stadhuis” in Culemborg, the Netherlands at November 5, 2005
Track 2 recorded during the concert @ “E-Live Festival 2002” in Eindhoven, the Netherlands at September 21, 2002
Track 3 recorded in 2002 during the rehearsal for the “E-Live concert” at Bas’ studio.
These three composers and experienced synthesists give us their own original proposal near to the Berlin School of Space Music, yet one that at the same time explores new paths. The music flows in a consistent, uninterrupted stream of beautiful soundscapes, communicating a wide range of feelings and emotions. Many passages are lively, exciting, evoking journeys and adventures in our imagination. Others have certain romantic traits, at times even sensual.
Estos tres compositores y experimentados sintesistas nos hacen su propia y original propuesta musical, próxima a la filosofía de la Escuela de Berlín de Música Planeadora pero a la vez explorando nuevos caminos. La música fluye en un caudal consistente e ininterrumpido de bellos paisajes sonoros, transmitiendo una amplia gama de sentimientos y emociones. Muchos pasajes son dinámicos, emocionantes, evocando en nuestra imaginación viajes y aventuras. Otros tienen ciertos rasgos románticos, a veces incluso sensuales.
The opening refrains to 'Orange One' are all rather pastoral, calming pads bringing up images of looking out to the far distance in the early morning light over seemingly endless fields. Sparse percussion, like the first rays of the sun, mix with sounds of what could be birds hiding in the grasslands below. The percussion starts to weave gentle rhythms and a cello type lead heightens the sense of beauty. A sequence starts up without spoiling the gorgeous atmos so carefully crafted. Amongst all this beauty there is also excitement however which increases still further as a second sequence arrives. A repeated melody conjures up a feeling of wonder, gradually morphing as the track continues its very steady build, increasing in intensity all the time but somehow managing to retain that tender edge.
A slow high register sequence provides a rather thoughtful beginning to 'Orange Two'. This is joined by a decidedly brooding but also quite exquisite lead line punctuated by occasional drum flourishes. It's as if we have had to start a journey in the middle of the night, with a slight air of sadness in the air. A beefier sequence joins the first questing forward. The rhythm solidifies and we are soon motoring along in quite a groove. Additional flutey synth solos add a little interest over the blanket of hypnotic syncopations. In the fifteenth minute things start to be stripped back. Sighing pads then more wonderful cello (or it could be violin) become the main features. All rather soothing it is too. I looked for Thomas Kagermann in the credits but he is not there so I assume this is sampled or otherwise synthetically created. Whatever the source, it is highly effective. The sequence and rhythm never completely disappear, just subside somewhat. Additional lead lines come and go then in the twenty fourth minute the drums and pulsations start to rise in the mix once more until they are again quite forceful and mesmerizing, a delicate staccato melody providing contrast. In the twenty ninth minute strings and soft pads once again rise in the mix, rhythms disappear and the sequence subsides, morphing this way and that in the background. We finish with quite a twist as suddenly shrill chiming bells enter accompanied by other Hellish noises. 'Orange and Blue' provides quite a different, slightly Eastern feel as dreamy little rhythms, tinkling effects and soft pads mix blissfully together. When the sequence arrives it remains low in the mix, enhancing the tranquil atmosphere rather than dominating. The way it combines with the rhythm takes a decidedly Schulzian turn. A piano melody adds an even more beautiful element to what is already the best track on the album. Things come to an end in the tenth minute but I wish it could have gone on much longer.
(David Law, SMD)
Part of the art of making a good album is knowing how to select the source material. Case in point, the tracks on Orange are not new recordings, nor were they created at the same time. But they do seem to naturally fit as a single artistic statement.
Starting with a 2005 concert recording, “Orange One” is classic Broekhuis, Keller & Schönwälder, a mellow, gradually evolving piece that perfectly blends Keller & Schönwälder’s synthesizer wizardry with Bas Broekhuis’ rhythms. As usual they present their unique spin on Berlin school, which sounds retro and modern at the same time.
“Orange Two” was recorded over three years earlier but seems cut from the same cloth, though with its own distinctive voice. Steady pounding beats and crisp percussion move the dreamy synth sounds along, creating 40 minutes of warm soothing music. Sometimes the rhythm fades to allow the atmospheric touches shine through, but rhythmic sequencing and drums are never far away as it goes through its paces. Dissonant crashing sounds at the end are a surprise, raising the cool factor another notch.
I’m not sure how the color scheme was arrived it, but the last track is called “Orange & Blue.” I suppose it does have cooler electronic tones to go with a tribal vibe.
The first of a series of “theory of colors”, Orange will definitely leave a pleasant taste and have you anticipating the next hue.
2007. Phil Derby / Electroambient Space
This album features only three songs, but as you may guess, they are all rather long.
The opening track is the 21-minute Orange One, which starts out with an ambient intro with simple synthesizer pads. The melodic chords are however too sweet and easy to make an impact on this reviewer. These first five minutes also suffer from poor audio quality, see more about that below. The main body of Orange One has a relaxed Berlin School sequencer structure, but with sounds and sequencer patterns that are closer to Jean Michel Jarre's Arpegiator than traditional electronica from Berlin. It's all quite nice and pleasant, with some spacey synth leads and wide choral chords supporting acoustic-like percussion and rolling sequencers.
The second track, Orange Two, clocks in at no less than 40 minutes and 19 seconds, which simply is too long to sustain interest. While long tracks are nothing out of the ordinary in this genre, this particular track - once it has shown us what it has to offer - squeezes the fruit dry around 15 minutes, and for the next 20 minutes you feel you have heard everything the track has to offer. Only at the end is there significant development that adds another dimension or two to this track. This is also a good track, and might have been great had it been subjected to some restrictive editing.
The final track, the "short" 10-minute-something Orange & Blue is an even more relaxed track than Orange One, with a somewhat jazzy mood where piano and other acoustic-ish sounds are added, and more live percussion, which gives the track a wholesome organic feel, more so than the electronic sounding predecessors. A little like Vangelis is his jazzy corner. This track has more meat and details than the two others, and come out as the best track on the album, perhaps because it's less conceptual and more joyful, yet relaxed.
This being a live recording, I expected performance faults and perhaps technical errors, but the most distinct flaw was the frequent thin or cheap sounds from the sound sources, as if 20 dollar soundcards or heavy MP3 compression had been used. I have no idea about the equipment used, but the low-fi audio is striking. However, this shortcoming is somewhat compensated by engineering that puts in alot of space in the mix, so this is not an excessive problem, though I have to deduct 0.5 from the rating. The clicks and pops throughout the CD from what is either poor mastering or just the recording circumstances may be more annoying - but as the CD case states; if you find errors, you may keep them!
And I also expected some audience noise or cheering and clapping, since all the tracks are recorded as live performances, but there is nothing of that sort. This effectively gives the CD a studio album feel, but played live. More original studio albums should be made this way - the intimate and vibrating feel of an immediate performance gives the album a shimmering extra layer.
All in all, Orange - the first album in a series to explore theories of colours - is a nice and sympathetic album for those who like a bit of organic neo Berlin School music.
2007. Glenn Folkvord
This release from 2007 offers 72 minutes of slow-burn live electronic music.
European synthesists Bas Broekuis, Detlef Keller and Mario Schönwälder have been recording music (solo and together) for several years. These guys like to take their time establishing a melody.
Oblique chords of vaporous character amble along, peppered with sonic hints of rhythm and additional electronics, until eventually these various aspects are operating on equal footing. Now is the time for keyboards to enter the nonchalant mix, livening things with cyclic loops and playful chords. As the tunes progress, more riffs are generated and layered until the music becomes a vibrant complexity.
The electronics are crystalline and delicate, laced with heavenly airs and celestial demeanor. Patterns are introduced, looped, and left to twirl, while attention is diverted to establishing subsequent riffs, constantly layering things until a lush density is achieved. The overall pace continues to increase with each passing moment, periodically abated by rest stops during which synthesized violins have their say, and then the flow resumes its glorious ascension once again, this time employing fresh elements to strive for sonic altitude.
All the while, atmospheric tones fill the background, bestowing the tuneage with an lofty quality. For the first track, the percussion consists of synthesized bongos. Later pieces exhibit more conventional e-perc: snappy tempos that instill the music with a sense of urgency. The unhurried nature of this music is granted full reign by the musicians. With three tracks on this CD (clocking in at 21, 40 and 10 minutes), ample opportunity is afforded each improvised composition to evolve and explore its attendant structure.
The last piece abandons the slow-burn progression for an abstract structure that ultimately falls prey to its own inherent melody.
The tunes were respectively recorded live: at het oude Stadhuis in Culemborg, the Netherlands, on November 5, 2005; at E-live Festival 2002 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, on September 21, 2002; and at Bas' studio during the rehearsal for the E-live concert.
Matt Howarth / Soniccuriosity
Minimalism, languorous and hypnotic tempos, seasoned with plaintive synths and fluty Mellotron that stick, as well on musical structures than ears, on ambivalent rhythms; this is the menu of Orange, the last musical extravagance of Bas Broekhuis, Detlev Keller and Mario Schonwalder, the true masters of today’s EM in the Berlin School way.
Created and produced in homage to the Dutch fans, Orange is also the first opus from an upcoming series of titles associated to the theory of colors. A series that will include a mixture of live recordings, as well as studio works, made during the last years. In a way, the German trio follows the path of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, for the greatest pleasure of their fans. But, you don’t need to be a fan to appreciate BK&S music. If minimalism rhythms, coated of a musical structure that goes from groovy to soft Techno, appeal you, you should love the energetic and enigmatic music of Broekhuis, Keller & Schonwalder.
Recorded in Culemborg on November 5th 2005, Orange One presents a very atmospheric and tasty electronic intro. A spacey psychedelic approach, a bit like Schulze’s Body Love with his tremendous electronic bats. Strident sound effects pierce a cosmic nebula aura, accompanied by hesitant tablas, which gain strength with the arrival of heavier pulsations. Staggering violins furrow this misty atmosphere, before fitting throbbing violoncellos sonorities, lulling the meanders of an arid nothingness. Subtly, this movement is transformed into a superb minimalism village fair, which progresses on a bewitching tempo, hiccoughing a firm beat and flooded of superb synth solos aromatized of a suave orchestration mood. What a way to kick things up! A great title that will charm Klaus Schulze fan; Broekhuis, Keller & Schonwalder specialities.
Recorded at E-Live Festival of 2002, Orange Two begins on a hesitant intro, tracing a hopping tempo that a suave Mellotron dresses with cosmic splendor. Percussions and laments synths stare at a structure which draws a soft minimalism rhythm, forged by violin Mellotron. The beat is close to groovy techno, with increasing and decreasing loops that melt into an atmospheric passage where a cello flows in a floating and dubious environment, because of the percussive pulsations and the buckled solos with spectral breaths. Enveloping crescendo takes the road of a progressive tempo, always supported by minimalism violins and the ghostly ones synths, before failing in contemplative nothingness in suspension. Great progressive Berlin School
Orange & Blue is a studio repetition of Orange Two. We can appreciate the modulations and the changes there, as well as the progress to its improvisation.
Orange is a superb opus, very representative of the modern Berlin School. A much mature and evolve Berlin School which becomes a clever mixture of tint styles, between a harmonious soft techno and a minimalism hypnotic dance. Broekhuis, Keller and Schonwalder still surprise by delivering an album that only them dare to go beyond.
2007. Sylvain Lupari / Guts Of Darkness / Canada