The Grunewald Church Session slowly spins in the ether, the recording gleaming darkly in its ample interior, the piano a sliver of light that enters through an open window before being left to creep around the well-worn surroundings. A vine of a melody tentatively reaches out, and before long a couple of sparse, mini-chords decorate the church with a dull gold that pales to bronze. Gradually, the notes become brighter, and a cello wraps its smoky tendrils around the piano. The space within is a heaven for reverb lovers, and CEEYS (Sebastian and Daniel Selke) make the most of it. The thump of a rhythm reverberates and ripples throughout the church, shaking the old, dry wood of the pews and not only sinking but absorbing into the very stone. The rhythm itself is a hard smack, mirroring brittle, unforgiving concrete, but the softer piano is always ready to pick up the cello and wipe away the tears with a loving, outstretched arm. With an echo as substantial and as deep as this, CEEYS know not to clutter the sound; their compositions are perfectly balanced.
Preparing the way for their upcoming Concrete Fields, The Grunewald Church Session unfurls like a butterfly’s wings. The piano plays a faster, brighter series of notes as it starts to shy away from its darker origins, coming out of its shell and stepping into the light (‘Without Shelter’). It isn’t an easy ride: it slows down – tired, cold and suddenly self-conscious of itself – but then it livens up once again. The slower, pristine ‘Opal Glass’ and its thin layers reflect vividly serene colours that illuminate the music like a stained glass window, and the drones pour into the music slowly, feeding the room. Echoing voices slip through this window, this draughty void, bringing back recollections of a childhood spent in East Germany. Years slip.
A ‘loose’ vibe runs throughout the music, which is professional and yet never stiff, the performance itself likened to a slightly improvised jam session. The coda, ‘Traffic’ is increasingly thunderous, its weather changing unpredictably. The music never stutters with its tetris blocks of rush hour traffic. If anything, everything moves freely. That’s because it’s well-coordinated, the lights alternating between the colours and directing the flow of the music, the instruments coming and then going. At the end, they unite, and that produces something very special. The music does more than set the scene for Concrete Fields.