released January 16, 2018
The first release by Mikkel Almholt’s curiously named project Ghost Flute & Dice was called ‘Melody Is God’ and reviewed in Vital Weekly 977. But not by me, but I heard his second release ‘Live At Echokammer’ (Vital Weekly 1058) so before deciding who to give it to for a review I checked it out and I kept listening to ‘Kropsbygning’ (meaning ‘body type’, says Google translate). Almholt on his first release worked with some other people, but the second and now this new one all seem to have been made by him and he uses the piano as his primary instrument and adds to that real time computer processing or some kind of electronic set-up. Again this is an interesting mixture various musical interests that not always mix properly on paper one would think. There is surely a vast interest in modern classical music I would think, even when Almholt keeps his material with a time frame of three to seven minutes, which one could as easily label as ‘pop length’. Sometimes leaning towards the work of Erik Satie, spacious and introvert, but also towards the classical minimalism of say Reich and Glass, taking a left turn to the world of musique concrete and very occasionally a bit of noise or drone and in each of his pieces he delivers a sound world of its own. There is quite some variation in these eight pieces, but that works very much in favour of the release. The diverse approaches is not a show off of what Almholt can do, but it is to presenta most interesting musical release. Great cover too!
RAISED BY GYPSIES
As I get older I find myself more interested in music which could be described as either "free jazz" or "jazz but not jazz". There is a rather specific taste that I have for it though, in the sense that I feel like if people started telling me "Oh yeah, you should check out this artist" I probably wouldn't be into them. Ghost Flute & Dice have the kind of music I'm into. From the very first track I knew this was going to be something special and it never let up, it never disappointed.
Pianos bring upon intense strings and this has a sort of jazz feel to it right away but it also feels like the score to a film so I'd also say classical. Really deep cello sounds come in as well, but I still think of this as being on a stage for some reason, some sort of "Phantom of the Opera" but with a modern twist. It has this growing feel to it which makes it seem huge-- it's just ever expanding in sound. This quiets down into a piano part which reminds me of the theme from "Doogie Howser" or something from the 1990's in a similar sense. The playing can become somewhat manic and then it just kind of cuts off.
The second track has more of this tapping sound mixed in with piano notes that could be something out of "Peanuts". There are these static skips in here instead and it seems odd for me to type this but it feels as if someone is making the piano skip the way one would make a record skip as a DJ. It's perhaps something I would call classical remixed but with these odd beats as well (which might be a bongo). The piano seems to run out of gas at one point though, as it seemingly dies down and these static screeches come in with deeper tones. This piece begins to seemingly be at war with itself and it is amazing.
The pianos continue to do their piano thing with this sound of doom and static mixed in and it makes for quite the overall sound-- the likes of which I've not heard before and it really is rather compelling. "Glasvind" has a start that drives like "Knight Rider". I seem to focus on two layers at a time in these songs, which makes me think of Ghost Flute & Dice as being a duo but it is in fact a solo project from best I can tell. People might think that this is not the proper playing of the piano, but the truth is it takes something skilled above and beyond what you think would be "good" to pull this off.
And then of course everything comes crashing down into destruction, as if instruments are being smashed and set on fire. This is a great sound, but it isn't always one you hear to end the third track (maybe the final track?) but it still somehow works as the next song is more somber, droning and has church bells as if a funeral even if not in the literal sense. All the bells and whistles grow much louder though and it feels as if there is... It doesn't seem like anyone is coming back to life, but there is definitely some of change here. Perhaps all life has been wiped from the planet and this would be the point of the movie where it begins to grown again. But then it settles back down again so maybe this is all just in my head.
By the fifth song we're back to that dark classical vibe of chaos from the second track only at some point during it there is this sound like bass strings are being played in slow motion. I'm not sure what's going on, but it's borderline laughing. This eventually takes us into something deep in terms of strings where it almost feels like the songs are being played with silverware while waves come chopping through at the same time. It is somehow peaceful. Quieter sounds come through now, little notes at a time. It has diminished from the previous hectic pace but a slow build can be felt in the background.
The grind builds with those notes scattered in time. It's not the sort of jazz I was thinking about when I listened to the first track but right now, that is okay. Tapping brings in this rhythm and this whole thing just intensifies to the point where you feel like it's going to burst and then it just kind of trails off, a few Hitchcock sounds here and there. On the last song we seem to return to that jazz feeling though, but it's broken up by these static bursts and beeping like someone is signaling from morse code and wants to S.O.S. perhaps. As the pianos plunge in deeper and darker, what sounded like the end before might have felt like the end, but no, it was clearly not the end. This is the end and it is wonderful. What a ride this has been.
FELT HAT REVIEWS
Mike Almholt's third album under moniker Ghost flute and Dice is a wonderfully edited and published album of solo piano/effects music that can be viewed both as an experimental chamber music as well as harmolodic improvised stuff that is both dramatic, melancholic, witty and encourages you to think of a piano as a whole orchestra.
He uses lots of different techniques - his reverbrated tones can easily turn into a glitchy sound or have the characteristics of a cut-up experiment but nonetheless still bearing interesting harmonies, having a lot in common with a soundtrack type of music where you can clearly read the narrative - figurative designates of emotions are clearly obvious.
Mike has a unique talent of creating a soundscape that is not necessarily looped into predictable game of drones rather than that he utilises techniques which resemble plunderphony in its subtle manner.
Both very delicate and staccatto fuelled energetic passages set within reasonable time frames which is also an asset. Highly recommended.
The music of Ghost Flute & Dice is based on piano but, instead of being something closer to modern classical and its neo-romantic chichés, has a tie to the intuition of modernity where piano is considered more as rhythmic instrument than a melodic one. Moreover there's an use of effects and tape editing which creates a level of abstraction above the piano line mostly based on chords and looping lines vaguely reminiscent of minimalism.
The framework of this release is immediately exposed in "Emdrup": piano chords and effects creating odd resonances which are a proper layer above the piano creating some similar to the classic accompanying strings, but with a wider spectrum and elements of noise. "Kejser af Kina" is instead more focused with the rhythmic elements using the prepared piano and the reverse effect. "Glasvind" proceeds by accumulation while "Wrong is here" borders ambient territories as it starts with an electronic setup prior to the entrance of the piano. The layers of "Standardlösninger" generate an apparently complex sound but it's instead based upon variations of a fistful of melodic cells. "Pladearbejde" explores the string elements of the piano while "Undersult" the variations of sound masses. "No Name Nr 2" closes this release with a dialogue of the piano with his effect and noises.
Apart for some trivial moments where the experimental layer is a little expectable, the equilibrium within moments tied to tradition and to modernity is remarkable. Practically a release enjoyable by everyone.
Ghost Flute & Dice is het alias van de Deen Mikkel Almholt. ‘Kropsbygning’, aan de uitspraak wagen we ons maar niet, is de man zijn derde album en zijn eerste voor Attenuation Circuit. Almholt keert op dit album, overigens net als op zijn debuut ‘Music for Amplified Piano’, op boeiende wijze zijn piano binnenstebuiten.
Naar eigen zeggen kunnen we dit verwachten: “But this time Im playing odd time-meters, putting nuts and bolts inside the piano, playing the strings with a drumstick and combining all this with some glitchy, cut-up effects. The idea is to emphasize the mechanical and dissonant parts of the piano sound itself. ” Dat doet nogal chaotisch aan, maar beluister ‘Emdrup’ en u bent verkocht, werkelijk waar. Met behulp van zijn piano en de elektronische hulpmiddelen die Almholt ter beschikking heeft, creëert hij een zeer overtuigende, muzikale wereld. Eén ook die onverwacht lyrisch aandoet. En dan, alsof de stroom uitvalt, is het klaar en betreden we de wereld van ‘Keiser of Kina’, met dwarse aan dance ontleende ritmische structuren. De lyriek is ineens ver te zoeken.
Het gemak waarmee Almholt wisselt tussen diverse muzikale stijlen blijkt redelijk symptomatisch voor deze heer. En dus horen we in ‘Glasvind’ sterk repetitief pianospel boven een elektronische nevel en start ‘Wrong is here’ met een bijna symfonische, gedragen baspartij, doorsneden met klokkenspel, waarna het geheel in een vorm van chaos verandert, alsof alle klokken in de winkel tegelijk beginnen te rinkelen. Op ‘Standardlösinger’ trapt Almholt hem vervolgens flink op zijn staart en komen we in een furieuze cadans terecht. Bijzonder is ook de muzikale wereld die Almholt schetst in ‘Undersult’. We horen hier speels slagwerk en pianoklanken die meer doen denken aan een machine dan aan een traditionele piano, het geheel samengevoegd tot een steeds dominanter klinkend geheel met onheilspellende trekjes.
‘Kropbsygning is te koop als download, maar vanwege het prachtige artwork is de aanschaf van de fysieke Cd zonder meer de moeite waard.
Malo mi čudno da se desilo mom radaru neuočavanje za ovog poprilično interesantnog skladatelja, prije svega pijaniste pravim imenom Mikkel Almholt negdje iz Danske (ne navodi se grad). On radi vragolasto ekspresivnu solo glazbu za klavijature (čitaj piano) kombinirajući ih s različitim efektima tako da određenoj vrsti zvuka dodaje različite tretmane igrajući se i eksperimentirajući, a navodno surađuje i s drugim glazbenicima.
Krenuvši s ozbiljnijim komponiranjem 2009., do sada je realizirao 3 zvanična albuma, a ovaj čudnovatog naziva na danskom jeziku, nešto otprilike kao 'body building' ili 'izgradnja konstrukcije' (nekoliko naslova je na danskom) bavi se isključivo instrumentalističkim konstelacijama odakle sasvim shodno dolazi i ovakav naziv. Nije to nekakvo besomučno nabijanje po tipkovnicama. Uočava se školovanost i konciznost spletkarenja između elektro-akustike, glitch-noisea i ambijenta u minimalističkim relacijama s ponekim insinuacijama na Steve Reicha i Philip Glassa pri čemu ostaje vrlo miran i koncentriran na sadržaj baš kao da vježba striktno zacrtane fizičke radnje u svrhu izgradnje figure. Nanizao je tako čudnih kompozicija sa također čudnim nazivima od kojih neke nisam mogao prevesti poput "Emdrup" i "Undersult" (vjerojatno 'Glad'), a recimo "Kejser af Kina" (Kineski car), "Glasvind" (Stakleni vjetar), "Standardlösninger" (Standardna rješenja) ili "Pladearbejde" (Leme), na svu sreću kroz translataciju prikazuju pravo stanje fabule.
Svaka od priloženih 8 kompozicija imaju svoju glavu, tijelo i rep pazeći na intenzivnost čudnovato uređene dinamičke statike provučene kroz disonante, koji puta i preparirani klavir gotovo bez ikakve potpore nekog drugog instumenta izuzev ponekih sampliranja zvona što donose pogrebni dojam ili lupkanja po žicama klavira. Te minijature usko su bazirane i na melodičnosti, mada nije slučaj sa svim tehničkim finesama uvjetno rečeno odrezanih struktura na bazi psihičko-spiritualne igre, u nekoliko navrata i kaotične apstrakcije, pa čak i vrlo mračnih opservacija. Uglavnom se poigrava geometrijskim složenicama impresije kreirajući vlastiti način nekakvog neobičnog odbrojavanja. Ili unaprijed ili unatrag ne ostavljajući niti malo pošteđen smisao za hrabro račvanje i suočavanje s oprečnim slojevima poput završne teme "No name nr 2" u kojoj pratnju čini nešto vrlo slično Morseovoj abecedi, ali da me pitate štao je nakucano, ne bih vam znao reći jer sam je nekad davno učio, a i zaboravio.
Album je kao takav svakako prijatno otkriće moderne glazbe s klasičnim predispozicijama, a pomalo i jazzy feedbackom vrlo tijesno pripijenog intenziteta intimističke naravi za solo slušanje i razmatranje onoj publici koja izlazi izvan okvira uobičajene piano glazbe s raskošnim aranžmanima i nepredvidljivim izletima. U tom pogledu ovo je naoko mirno, ali vrlo dubokog i slojevitog pasaža na kakvog se baš ne nailazi često.
Naslovi: 1.Emdrup, 2.Kejser af Kina, 3.Glasvind, 4.Wrong is here, 5.Standardlösninger, 6.Pladearbejde, 7.Undersult, 8.No
name nr 2
ocjena albuma [1-10]: 8
horvi // 07/06/2018
THE SOUND PROJECTOR
Impressive solo record from Ghost Flute & Dice, a soubriquet which conceals the Danish composer Mikkel Almholt…he’s doing it mostly with a piano, but experimenting with unusual time signatures in the playing, hammering the strings with drumsticks, and adding “glitchy cut-up effects” in a post-processing stage. Did I mention it’s also a prepared piano, full of nuts and bolts rattling about along with clothes-pins and rubber things…John Cage might have a lot to answer for, but he’d probably be blown away by this full-blooded roarer of an album which seems to be taking his “prepared piano” idea into unexpected turfs and domains…what I enjoy most is the layering and three-way piano cross-talk with Almholt seems to deliver so well, by which I mean there are several things going on at once in each piece, rhythms and metres pulling in different directions, many textures and tones to engage the ear. When he gets into his groove – and he does so on every one of these eight performances – Ghost Flute & Dice gets into quite a hammering, banging mode, letting the lower register notes trundle forth with a steam-engine power that is quite remarkable, a near-unstoppable force. I also like the way that note-clusters can sometimes grow so dense that we’re teetering on the edge of chaotic noise, a thick bramble-patch of prickly notes to disentangle. Most of the record is live performance, although a couple of the pieces here were built inside the computer to some extent; he works to no compositional rules “other than what sounded right”, and he refers to his entire process as “electroacoustic piano music”.
This Kropsbygning might be his third release, after 2011’s Music For Amplified Piano and Melody Is God which came out in 2013. The title Kropsbygning might translate from Danish into our word “body-building”, partly a reference to those ugly muscle-men who devote years to developing their pectorals and trapezoids until their bodies resemble a mound of glistening red pastrami. Some of the more pretentious practitioners in this area refer to the practice as “body sculpture”, as if their own torso were a lump of plasticine or clay to be moulded under their will. Mikkel Almholt knows about this and concedes “there is something grotesque about it”, but he co-opts the metaphor for his music and its construction. For instance (a) piano manipulated into something that isn’t possible in real life; (b) music is a mix of piano as a mechanical object, the circuits of a computer, the actions of a human performer; (c) tunes grown from noise created by the instrument. These strong compositional ideas are all successfully demonstrated on the powerful and at times amazing music you will hear. Elaborate die-cut black card fold-out wallet thing designed by Connie Munch with an insert; a hand-made package I believe. From 8th January 2018. Released in Germany and the USA, on two separate labels; distributed by Attenuation Circuit as ACUD 1001.