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Giraffe
'ATOMS'

When a story sees its own ending. ATOMS shows the Hamburg grown friends and instrumentalists taking a steep descent into the unmarked. Crushed arpeggios, hand layered drums and the afterthought of a nightly piano allude to an early dawn still at midnight. All six tracks are ultimately cast towards loss, since Charly Schöppner, the trio's rhythmic enigma, passed before the record was finished in 2023. But they do this unwillingly, each alone, and they materialise the persistence of beauty in different shapes and thoughts left behind. All happened through an uplift of time in a simple space, as the record was made in Schöppner's garrage, being the trio's artistic refuge at that time. A friend taking you close.

Occasionally miscellaneous worlds collide gently. Instead of intimidating each other, they choose tactful ways to locate their consent. When they know each other for a long time, they might even harmonize their heartbeat, assuming the blood pressure stays discrete. ATOMS, a 2017 produced, unreleased album of the Hamburg based trio Giraffe, is such a clash of different worlds, ideas, emotions, who get charmingly synchronized in an insightful conversation between new music, improvisation, electro, minimal, Krautrock robotics, and the avant-garde spheres of pop. It marks a posthumous longplayer, finished by Sascha Demand (guitar), and Jürgen Hall (keys) after Charly Schöppner’s (percussion) passing in 2020. Nine five to nine minutes long gut-driven improvised compositions. Dark, diverse, haunting, and yet so private talks between three well known to each other individuals. Together they provide a ghostly, somber, dodgy passage, in which virtual analog Nord Drum beats rattle spectral with the acoustic percussion of the frame drum, one of the most ancient musical instruments. They dance with an icy 1980ees touch around minimal shifts and transformations of synth-lines, prepared guitar tones, and drunken keyboard sounds. Harmonically changing shades and slowly transforming rhythm patterns, that explicitly refer to Charly Schöppner’s electro-pop past in bands like Boytronic, just to place the reference into a new setting. A distinctive mélange of improvisation and serialism, in which center the conceptual goes in circles with a free sound searching mode, just to convert the receiver into an active immersive entity drowning in their haunting reverberations. If nothing exists except atoms and empty space; the Giraffe ATOMS séance offers a walk into a room of molecules, that enchants the space with subtle sound variations, creating seemingly endless immortal energy channels. Michel Leuffen

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ATOMS unterscheidet sich von allen übrigen Giraffe Releases. Bei ATOMS zeigt sich, dass in unserem Trio drei diverse Kontexte aufeinander treffen und zusammen kommen: Improvisation und neue Musik, Elektro und Minimal, Krautrock und Avantgarde Pop. Charly spielte hier ausnahmsweise mehr norddrum und Sampler als Framedrum und akustische Percussion. Das gibt den Aufnahmen eine andere Handschrift, einen gewissen 80er-Touch. Insgesamt haben die Stücke etwas Geisterhaftes und Düsteres, Zwielichtiges. Alle anderen Releases sind heller und lichter. Bei den Stücken geht es in den Einzelstimmen wie im Ganzen um minimale Verschiebungen und Transformationen von Sound zu Sound, um harmonisch wechselnde Schattierungen und um sich langsam wandelnde rhythmische Patterns. Ganz explizit wollte Charly hier auf seine Elektro-Pop Vergangenheit rekurrieren, aber sie vor allem in einen neuen Zusammenhang stellen. Wir alle drei haben immer das Übergreifende in der Musik gesucht und begrüßt. Charly mochte sowohl das Grobe wie das Feine. Dabei war es unser Wunsch, gewisse Muster zu überschreiten oder wenigstens zu konfrontieren. Sascha Demand

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Listening to these recordings, two years after our last concert with Charly, opens up many memories and emotions inside of me. We conceived ATOMS as a template or blueprint for our live shows. We needed something reduced to build on, yet rich and inspiring, to provide space for live improvisation. It's exciting to listen to it today. We "rehearsed" this set of pieces many times together with Charly. It was always a different musical experience. I noted down only a couple of tones and filter movements for each track. Sometimes it's just a single key i hold on one of the synths, sinking into the textures. Playing with the atoms felt like taking a deep breath and going on a diving trip, immersing into an underwater world and coming back to the surface again after an hour or so. It was the garage, a unique place with its own messy logic, where we composed, played, rehearsed, and hung out on a regular basis. It was a world of its own and it meant a lot to me to commit to Giraffe. My daughter was born when our first release came out. I see ourselves in the garage at night, playing ATOMS, discovering musical worlds together, being aware that we are creating something unique. Three old men, three daddys, each one of us being on the music scene for decades, creating something that has never been created before. Three men that could possibly allow themselves to dedicate to their family or gardening, but still hungry for recognition, still on a mission, still feeling safe and self-conscious in the creation process, still wanting to share something that comes out naturally. Maybe for me, it is the most honest and deepest musical statement I've produced so far, as there were no limits, no expectations, no judgments at all. Jürgen Hall

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© STOFFE 2024

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