What IF? That’s the question experimental composer, pianist/electro-tinkerer, and (n.b.d.) Golden Globe nominee Volker Bertelmann a.k.a. Hauschka is asking on his eighth studio album What If, which hits March 31 as a CD, download, and vinyl via City Slang.
WHAT IF Bertelmann decided to make his “most wild” and “most radical” record yet, featuring fewer of those (admittedly pretty gorgeous) romantic piano runs and more noise and electronic elements courtesy of old-school drool-tools like the Roland Jupiter 4 synth and the Eventide H3000 Ultra-Harmonizer? And WHAT IF he consciously chose to break from tradition by programming much of whatever piano parts remain by layering player-piano rolls at un-human-like speeds and rhythmic juxtapositions to make textures, meters, and harmonies never before heard from the instrument?
And… WHAT IF all the resulting sounds (the otherworldly plunks of prepared piano music, ghostly sci-fi ambience of vintage electronica, the circuitous rhythms of traditional minimalism, and the propulsive power of hip-hop, etc.) all swam together to provoke reflection “beyond the musical sphere” and into a social/anthropological realm brimming with Utopian concepts and playful, inquiring, and open-ended questions about the state of the earth that his children will stand to inherit 30 years on from now? (“The record is there to create awareness for certain topics,” Bertelmann says, “but I didn’t want to make it too heavy. It’s more like a very playful way of dealing with our perspectives.”)
But most importantly: WHAT IF you didn’t have to wait one second longer to see/hear Bertelmann’s vision for yourself? WHAT IF you could get a sneak peak of this precocious new vision of Hauschka’s, because a brand new video for the album track “Familiar Things Disappear” (directed by Mareike Foecking and perfectly mirroring the dizzying woosh of sounds with a dizzying woosh of images concertizing the very abstract struggles of the compositional process) was premiering TODAY? As in, right here? Right now? Right down below the very next sentence?
“What if,” indeed…
What If is out March 31 on City Slang. Pre-order it here, and check out its cover art and tracklist below.
01. I Can’t Find Water
02. Constant Growth Fails
03. My Kids Live On Mars
04. I Need Exile
05. I Can’t Express My Deep Love
06. Nature Fights Back
07. Familiar Things Disappear
08. Trees Only Exist in Books
09. We Live a Thousand Years