“Learning to express the hidden voice of things, that is the path and the intention of art“
– Giorgio de Chirico reworked’s quote –
This quote could describe a part of Koenraad Ecker‘s work. A part of his sonic re-transcription, tied to his perceptions of his physical or social environment.
Today, the Berlin based Belgian musician, sound artist and producer invites us to listen to A biology of shadows his 4th album, one that also inaugurates his own In Aulis label.
It’s doubtless the desire to express feelings or reflections with great accuracy, that has urged the artist to re-start the writing of this album 3 times from the ground up. Koenraad is an inspired improviser and often leaves room for the happy accidents that can occur when composing, be it alone or with other projects that involve collaborating artists.
But this time, his ideas are very precise, and so he invests a lot of time and energy into this project, perhaps in order to exorcise entirely and to express as accurately as possible what he has wanted to say through the sound of this album.
Thus, the more precise the ideas are, the more the self critic rises, hence holding the process back and leaving little room for happy incidents.
It is the kind of project that needs you to take a step back and to review often. And this is why it took him more than 2 years to give birth to the album..
A Biology of Shadows is split into 2 parts. Depicting 2 looks, 2 different visions the artist takes of our world. Or perhaps to be more precise, 2 views on our society. A view on our dissolving society, intoxicated and formatted by the injected idea of an obligatory yield with no other option. And on the other hand, that of hope, surviving and comforting hope of an anarchically organized solidarity, almost considered illegal when facing this colossus.
And so! A Biology of Shadows is more than music or sounds if we attempt to follow the artist’s path. From a musical perspective, the album is neatly divided in 2 parts.
Side A of the Vinyl, “Endoscopy” is in my opinion, more accessible to neophytes and allows a sonic and poetic reflection, mainly through the accompanying voices. However, I want to make it clear! It’s not about a soft, mushy sonic poetry. But much more a narrative poetry, at time, worthy of a Dean Hurley soundtrack.
Side B of the vinyl, “Undergrowth“, offers a visceral and sharp edged sonic palette built on more abstract structures. Besides, if you feel more attracted to this kind of sound, I highly recommend that you experiment with the “undergrowth” side of the vinyl version. In so far as the textures of the sounds are different, much better to listen to and more penetrating than on the digital format.
Now, and beyond the desire of Koenraad to split his project in to 2 parts and despite my repeated attentive listens, I could not embed his visions. Nonetheless, during these listening sessions, I felt these 2 attracting and repelling opposing poles, at time in the complexity of a tireless disorder.
Just like on the tracks, B side of the vinyl, “The sardonic birds of Costaguana ” and “Lügenmärchen”. Comparable, without doubt, to his vision of the chaos which occupies our media daily.
So beyond an attempt to integrate his visions, I freed up my perceptions and own interpretations of his work.
“Black Blocks and red zones” on the side A of the vinyl, re-transcribes this occupation well and takes me to forbidden territory, a well guarded area :
“woe betide those who dare to cross this area, under penalty of visceral lacerations and mental shredding. The entity which occupies this space will take its time to move back, to reload and attack once more until the gentle soul submits and abandons all ideas of rebellion.”
“L’incendio Genovese” on the same side, is simply following my interpretation of “Black blocks and red zones” :
“In the middle of a field of ruins, the tired soul, tamed by its own entity, is roaming.
Switching to mute the sonorous routine of reality, backed up by its unconscious.”
“Black Blocks and red zones” and “L’incendio Genovese” allowed me to lift the veil on the double vision of the artist. I could really feel these two opposing forces in these tracks. But the track that has really slapped me, and this purely and simply based on its composition and arrangements is “Between the desire and the spasm”.
In my opinion, it’s a masterpiece that marks a turning point in the evolution of the artist’s work.
Koenraad has already ventured into vocal arrangements on the track “Black dog pays a visit” from his previous “Notes from the panopticon” album, from the end of 2015.
And even if this piece had resonances based more in the post-industrial genre, it could be the birth point of the “A biology of shadows” project. At least for the vision “Endoscopy” of the project.
“Between the desire and the spasm” marks 2018 for me, with a red-hot iron!
Koenraad appears to be someone hyper connected to his environment, looking to remind us of the hidden voice of things, the hidden voice of sounds. Often concealed by an alienated routine of sounds or backed up by our unconscious.
More informations about this album and the several collaborations:
Tracks A2 and A4 : voice featured by Alex “Bogues” Rendall.
Track A5 : voice featured by Audrey Chen.
Tracks A2, B1, B3 and B4 : contrabass clarinet by Chris Heenan.
Tracks A2, B1, B3 and B4 : clarinet by Kai Fagaschinski.
Tracks A2, B1, B3 and B4 : clarinet by Michael Thieke.
Track B2 : drums by Luca Marini.