I'm rather annoyed. The day after I decide to drown this blog in the kitchen sink, an album emerges from my hard drive and demands a review.* Will you lot out there stop releasing good CC albums so I can finally throw CTW in the wood-chipper?
*retrieves CV from waste-paper basket*
Right, let's get on with it. "Werken" is a nom de plume of Tilman Ehrhorn, a Berlin-based music producer, composer, saxophone/reed player and sound designer. I don't have time for this. I am a busy man and I want a macchiato and some cake. He's a vastly experienced jazz musician, having collaborated with the likes of Wayne Shorter (I am not worthy, I am not worthy), Hamburg Sinfoniker, L'Atelier d'Orchestre, and has appeared on many jazz and electronica recordings and been involved in numerous German TV and theatre productions. I have a novel to write and languages to learn. Please let me go. He's also worked with Native Instruments, having designed presets for their highly regarded Massive, Absynth and FM8 softsynths, and helped to develop Kore 2, NI's software controller.
So, let's take a look at that CV...modern jazz, electronica, composer, professional sound designer. Hmm. If only someone with those talents decided to release an album. Or decided not to, allowing me to crochet my nose-hairs and spend more time feeling guilty about not attending the gym. Cake, I need cake. Wouldn't you know it, Mr Ehrhorn has done just that. In Sum, you'll find 11 tracks of dubby, crackly ambient that will delight fans of the terrific Urlaub Auf Balkonien, the Qwartz-winning album from Krill.Minima. Its stately, granular milieu will be the perfect fit for your brand new and not-at-all-blindingly-expensive Google Nexus One as you trudge through snow-laden streets.
Sum is about as hand-tooled as electronica gets. Werken has made nearly every sound on the album himself, using a modular synth to build the percussive elements and the lovely stabs of crackly goodness that permeate the surprisingly light reverb. I keep expecting a run-of-the-mill kick/snare/hi-hat combo to start up, but it never does. Instead, Werken stays true to his love of jazz improvisation, preferring to search for an overall structure derived from a combination of many elements rather than conform to something more overtly rigid. It's less "tsss tsss tsss tsss" and more "zzzt kssk domp fffn ussh". I may have used different halves of my brain to write those last two sentences.
This release from Zymogen netlabel (a very strokeable Italian netlabel that gets everything right apart from...*deep sigh*...making it tricky for amateurish CC blogs to preview or host their albums) won't make you tap your feet or nod your head, but it will tickle your fancy. My recommended track is C&P, but the link isn't working [EDIT: it is now. Thank you, Zymogen], so instead I'll proffer Surrender, four minutes of chopped-up white noise dub that will convince you that Tilman Ehrhorn is a talented musician who is adept at manipulating electronic sounds.
I'm sure he'd love to get a few emails thanking him for his free CC album. After all, his EP is greater than the Sum of its parts. Ouch. Clunk. Apologies for not reviewing Sum in more detail. If I do ever write another review, I'll concentrate on the music and stop penning such godawful puns. Anything else would be punishing to read. Heh.
*A complete coincidence, I assure you.
Werken - Sum (link to zipped mp3 and FLAC album)