Christoph Berg – Conversations

Credit: Stefan Lingg

Released through Sonic Pieces, Conversations is a reflective and carefully-wrought album of grey-tinted melancholia. Christoph Berg has produced a subdued set of chamber suites, with violin and bass largely adorning its walls.

The aching rhythms of the titular piece are like the death throes of a stuttering, clanking machine, slowly rusting away in a disused building, left to decay but still able to let out a series of agonising gasps. It has tired after a long race, spent after thousands of hours methodically and robotically carrying out its monotonous tasks. A wounded cello walks beside the artificial clunk clunk clunk of the rhythm, but halfway through it begins to fade away, pausing in the midst of its artillery fire; the last ember, coughing out what’s left of its sunset colour. The cello picks itself back up, somehow finding the will and the energy to keep pushing through, to keep on living, to keep on fighting, but its forlorn appearance is a damp thing, and it’s all the more powerful for its undramatic phrasing because it doesn’t scream for attention. It doesn’t have the desire or the energy to do that.

On ‘Grief’, the cello’s notes grind away at the instrument’s bones and its face stings with salty tears. It’s a black crow of a track, rustling its oily feathers together and cawing out a series of bleak, caustic premonitions. Ominous omens drip from the track, its sharp and pointed approach similar to a slap in the face or a cold shower. The inner conversations of ‘Monologue’ unravel in a tired mind that’s losing the plot, a mushrooming psychological imbalance that causes the music to sway towards incoherency, descending into areas which induce vertigo, with each string a quivering, spiralling thought. It’s a crowded piece reminiscent of Psycho or a similar cinematic thriller, and the strings are like spitting cobras contributing a dark poison to an innocent thought, turning it sour and ink-stained in no time at all. ‘Farewell’ is more ambient in spirit as its voyagers say goodbye to their loved ones. The track then sets off on gilded waters supplied by a calm cello. The skies don’t really clear, but that’s okay: it is, in fact, what gives Conversations its understated, cool beauty.

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