By Aaron Martin & Christoph Berg
Dawn has risen. A new day has awoken, producing her first notes of music with the cute, innocent tweets of birdsong, flares of daybreak-light gleaming on the young horizon, like fresh teardrops of morning dew left to sleepily linger upon blades of grass. The sun worshippers welcome the sight as the cradle of warmth breaks out of the shell of the surface. Welcoming the returning sunshine, the bright, brilliant melody of ‘Slow Wake’ may be the untouched promise of the new day, seconds after waking up; the sunrise, still relatively nascent, is so frequently set to music, but rarely is the music as beautiful as this. The opening is fully loaded with a thousand possibilities that all point to a thousand and one different outcomes. It is the first thing you hear, but the source of the sound remains unclear; hazy origins that are unsure of the melody. It could have come from a depleted dream.
Despondent delta-waves counteract the sparkling melody with the deeper grumble of the cello, as if it were crawling out of the covers with a heavy head still riddled with the remnants of sleep. Aaron Martin definitely has the appropriate initials when it comes to dissecting the ante meridiem mind. Christoph Berg, meanwhile, delivers a nocturnal master-class. Day Has Ended is the result.
‘Comfort of Shadow’ has an almost African tonality with its initial, jointly-hummed harmony; a smoky, early blues vocalised under the mid-morning sun. The intense heat shimmers off the concrete, day after day. It is the constant song of struggle; the blues is itself the original outpouring for the soul’s melancholia. It is a cry that yearns for safety and reassurance, for the touch of an open hand. The cutting bow of the brooding cello – which can, at times, blow either hot or cold – is an icy hand that doesn’t offer much comfort as it smothers and then slashes the air, masked by a slowly descending sheet of grey, opaque fog. The vocal is washed away, as if it were a streak of melodic blood in the process of being hosed off the streets by the relevant authorities. Buried in the midst of the cello is a warmer line that shadows the darker line; it swirls and then falls, and although this line is a touch warmer, the threatening darkness is still there. Shadows are not always reassuring or comforting.
Day Has Ended shifts smoothly between the two musicians as if it were the soundtrack to the turning of the day. The duo’s output seems to focus on the night, but Aaron Martin’s earlier moments fixate on the sun’s journey across the sky, until the spell of late afternoon / early evening is reached. ‘Night Never Came’ is Martin’s final piece, but it oozes out the pale light of the day until only the black liquid of the night sky is left. The pitch-black comes to claim the remainder of the album; the fading day belongs to Christoph Berg. His cello lies beside some lower, stationary tones but it is almost capsized by the thick rumble of drone. A recurring, minimal loop helps to lighten the mood, but it is only a flickering, broken street-light on the corner of a dark alley. The loop never resolves, the unfinished light daubing a chilly, anxious mood over the music, one that is shaped by the bruised purple / jet black colouring of the nocturnal air.
Mankind has always held onto the fear of the dark, locked away somewhere in the recesses of the mind, but those primal instincts of survival are sharpened under the white face of the moon. The night-time ritual is a gentle, wondrous appreciation for the night and its dull, passionate colour. The lurking fear, rapid eye movement and panic at an instant fight or flight response is swept away in the face of Berg’s composition. The only darkness comes from the mind, casting its own ill-lit shadow upon the psyche.
On ‘Pillows’, the black of the night – the black, clouded uncertainty that masks itself as fear – is punctured by a thousand white sparks of light, shining over you, arriving from distant galaxies in a place outside of time, long before the first steps were taken. The piece is very short at a mere two minutes, but Berg has already paved out a gorgeous harmony, one on top of the other, and by its conclusion the feather-light pillow is a new best friend; the music is as comfortable as a night spent under the covers.
‘Today Has Been Alright’ could be the echo from the distant, dreamy voyage; one as distant as the starlight. The looping piano, longing to resolve, rewinds itself over and over as if it were the mind trying to make sense of the day; the latest encounters and recent events are churned over. The classical sound is smudged against a deep, deep bass. The ‘Coda’ is a nightly lullaby of looped contemplation, where the melancholia drifts around the twilight, never leaving the mind to completely rest. The loop cries out, as if it were a forlorn lament sung by the creatures of the deep. The circle is complete. Day has ended.