All posts by mferber63

Samuel Leipold: Viscosity

Viscosity

 

Swiss guitarist Samuel Leipold has released an interesting and ambitious album on November 20. ‘Viscosity’ features Samuel as soloist. The inspiration for the songs came from studies on contemporary music and includes Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, overtone compositions by French composer Gerard Grisey or minimalistic work by US composer Morton Feldman.

Samuel developed and composed the material on the album over a period of two years where he made little notes of sounds and intervals during practicing. His journey on sounds and how the fit together were the building blocks for the compositions.

He decided to put them onto a solo album because he found it very difficult to explain his ideas and the underlying esthetics to other musicians. Good friends also encouraged him to make this record

All songs were recorded during one session in October 2019 at a friends small studio in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The album starts with the title song ‘Viscosity’  where the guitar is accompanied by some cracking natural sounds which have been recorded just outside the recording studio.

 

The album continues with three compositions called ‘Sediment I – III’.  These compositions have been developed for two concerts where Samuel was asked to perform as soloist. We hear Samuel’s  passion for sounds, for clusters and for unconventional harmonies. The three songs are written out in detail and show Samuel Leipold’s expertise in composing contemporary music for the guitar.

‘Parsi’ plays again with ambient sound elements from which the guitar rises. Very nice guitar sound effects and great dynamics are the main characteristics of this tune.

‘Ex Machina’ is in contrast to the last song again a piece for solo guitar.  The sounds and harmonies developed in this song are partly composed and partly improvised. Samuel explained to me that this is the perfect combination for him, playing with sounds and reacting spontaneously and intuitively.

‘Shō’ comes next and this song is based on the Japanese reed musical instrument with the same name.  The chords are based on the clustered standard chords which the shō produces. Samuel is accompanied by a friend playing the bass clarinet. When I started to listen to the album I found this song being the easiest to listen to and it is still one of my favorite songs on the album.

The album continues with ‘Antimon’. Samuel told me that this song is based on a Villa-Lobos etude for classical guitar. He changed the tuning of the guitar where the A and the B-string are tuned a halftone below the standard tuning which creates this special sound. Adventurous but it expands our hearing conventions.

The album finishes with ‘Piano & Guitar’ a very spontaneous and improvised song where Samuel returns to ambient sound. Samuel told me that the inspiration for this song came from Morton Feldman’s ‘Piano and String Quartet’. Samuel plays the piano block chords and the guitar is very much alienated producing a very special and strange sound, more like a noise. However the song has a meditative character.

‘Viscosity’ is an album that combines avant-garde elements, ambient sounds, modern composition techniques and improvisational elements. It shows the musical exploration Samuel Leipold has taken and I find it great that he shares his ideas and personal expressions. I think to produce and release this album was quite a courageous step for Samuel but the result is remarkable and inspiring.

The album has a unique maelstrom  where solo guitar songs and ambient sounds alternate but create uniform aesthetics and a homogenous experience. Please take your time to listen to this album, you will not regret it

More information about Samuel Leipold is available on his website:
https://www.samuelleipold.com/

And finally the Spotify playlist with the complete album:

 

Hans Ulrik: In a Sentimental Mood

Billede 12-10-2020 kl. 06.38

A great relaxed album comes from Danish saxophonist Hans Ulrik. “In a Sentimental Mood” presents a mix of originals and standards from a Scandinavian all-star quartet featuring

  • Hans Ulrik – saxophone 
  • Steen Rasmussen – piano
  • Johnny Åman – bass
  • Anders Mogensen – drums 

Johnny Åman comes from Malmö in Sweden, the other musicians are from Denmark.  The songs have been recorded in June 2020 in “the Old Radio House” in Copenhagen by Henrik Holst Hansen and the release date was on October 12, 2020.

The album starts with “You Must Believe In Spring” by Michel Legrand. Hans Ulrik begins it with a excellent sax solo intro, the band joins gently and soft, a short and relaxed piano solo and the final head top this great ballad off.

“Scilla” is an original by Hans Ulrik, a 3/4-meter moll blues which modulates in the bridge. A beautiful composition with fantastic dynamic solos by Hans Ulrik on saxophone and Steen Rasmussen on piano accompanied by pushing bass and drums. This song is in nice contrast to the initial ballad and is one of my favorites on the album.

The album continues with Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood”, the title song of the album. The intro goes to piano and saxophone, where the piano plays and repeats an interesting melodic riff. The band starts in the bridge of the song. The first solo goes to Johnny Åman on bass, an excellent idea to keep the song quiet and relaxed. Hans Ulrik takes over in the bridge and the dynamics increase perfectly. A final saxophone solo cadence completes this song, another highlight on the album.

“Loose Caboose” by Henry Mancini from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” comes next. This modal song has a steady even groove and features Hans Ulrik on soprano saxophone.

“The Summer Knows” by Michel Legrand is the next ballad on this album. Hans Ulrik continues to play with his soprano saxophone. The melody is played very beautifully, long notes, great phrasing and much more emotions. The solo goes again to Johnny Åman on bass.

The album finishes with “Epilogue” a Jazz waltz that reminds me a little bit of “Little Waltz” by Ron Carter. This song has a nice melody and fine harmonies. Anders Mogensen on drums uses this song to present a very open and extraordinary rhythmic pattern.

This whole album is something I would like to call “comfort music”, beautiful melodies presented very easy and sophisticated but with great taste. A perfect companion for long winter nights. Please enjoy.

More information on Hans Ulrik can be found on his website:
https://hansulrik.com/

And finally the album as playlist on Spotify: