Christopher Colaço and Philipp Schaeper have known each other ever since relocating from their respective hometowns in South Germany to Berlin, where they studied Jazz piano & drums at the Berlin University of Arts. Thanks to their time at the University, a tight bond knots together their music, which shares both a musical understanding and a deep, respectful friendship. View From Above, their debut album, circulates with a unity that goes well beyond music. The two musicians share a rhythm and are on the same wavelength. It can’t be copied; it can’t be replicated. It’s either there or it isn’t. Not even the tutors at the University can teach it.
Berlin’s ever-amazing music scene helped the pair to ascend still further, aiding a progression that’s already resulted in the scoring of their first movie (2013’s ‘Oh Boy! – A Coffee In Berlin’) and a German Academy Award for Best Original Score. With View From Above, the duo unearth collaborative gold. Consisting of seven tracks, and collaborating with classical musicians from the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, View From Above is a finely-tuned hybrid, shaded in the sleek and silver hues of film music and classical minimalism while skirting around darker ambient/electronic soundscapes. Their background in scoring is evident. The tracks, which segue into one another, are full of confidence, with ‘A Stage For Shadows’ in particular feeling like an actor in front of a slow-panning camera. It’s cinematic and dramatic, the point of realization in a crucial scene, foreshadowing something on the horizon. Its strings are clad in black-and-white attire. ‘Rhythm of Snow’ adds a flurry of strings, dancing in the snowfall. The piece is active but relaxed, bringing relief after its tense predecessor. A soft piano entwines around the strings.
These aren’t just pretty melodies. Although they’re put on display and they’re attractive enough to feature as part of a modelling agency, they carry substantial emotional weight. ‘The Brightest Point Of Light’ is an absolutely sublime, tug-on-the-heart piece. A recurring piano melody sits alone, playing to itself in a lonesome space, but strings soon come to comfort it, and their light fragrance enters. Sometimes the strings support the piano, holding it up and then running with it until it has enough speed and confidence to take off, flying kite-like in a breeze and rising higher still. At other times, the strings take over, becoming the dominant sound without ever being overbearing or harsh. The two sounds – strings and piano – could be a mirror of the two friends. Coda ‘So Far From Home’ adds more in the way of an ambient atmosphere, bringing a quiet shush to the album. Landing as softly as the snow, the notes gradually melt before the eyes, turning into a slushy puddle of reverb.
Clocking in at a neat and well-trimmed thirty-two minutes, View From Above is an exquisite album, keeping perfect time and delivering everything you’d want in half the timeframe. There’s zero filler, the piano drinking from a can of Diet Coke instead of a full, coronary-busting litre of regular. Recorded in Berlin, the album is a travelogue of recent years, documenting both journey and ascension – truly a view from above.