Four years after the release of his dedicatory for record (LINE_026), Carsten Nicolai as alva noto returned to assemble a second recording of compositions devoted to a number of creative figures including industrial designer Dieter Rams, filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky and German dramatist Heiner Müller.
Opener “garment”, inspired by a translucent textile designed in connecting sections, may serve well as a metaphor for this collection of tracks that take as their source of inspiration shifting zones and in-between places, links in chain-letter music, luminous bubbles, fragments of orchestral strings, and slowly decaying resonances. In “anthem berlin” alva noto delivers a national anthem for artists Carl Michael von Hausswolf’s and Leif Elggren’s fictional land of Elgaland-Vargaland. Rather than relying on traditional orchestration, he snaps off a section of a marching band’s snare drum roll and lets the percussive rattle reverberate to a tonal hum. “ans” acknowledges Russian Evgeny Murzin’s research into obtaining sound from a visible image and vice versa—a central aspect of Carsten Nicolai’s work as a visual artist. For this recording, alva noto was invited to draw onto the glass plate of the ANS synthesizer, producing the modulating sound heard on the composition. “interim” and “t3” were composed for a prize-giving ceremony in honor of designer Dieter Rams. Performed live at the event, the background audio layers of “interim” recalled the alva noto xerrox project in which peripheral sounds are elevated to a conscious composition. In “villa aurora” we find ourselves among the dying moments of a held chord, until seconds later the lid of the piano is dropped shut, amputating its echo forever.
As we listen we are almost aware of this record having breath, as a watchful vacuum draws in influences before exhaling them back into the music. This ebb and flow marks time over for 2‘s reference points, reminding us that creativity is perceptive of that which lies at its edges and, similar to language, absorbs it within. — Andrew Cannon