Solo Collective, a trio comprised of composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Sebastian Reynolds, German cellist / composer Anne Müller, and violinist Alex Stole, will follow up their Solo Collective – Part One release with the appropriately-named and somewhat expected Part Two in June. Part One worked like this: tracks were taken from the trio’s live performance at Roter Salon in Berlin, while others were produced in a studio. Great musicians are able to switch between solo or co-op, and these three can all list a high level of teamwork on the CV, being team players when it comes to looking at the bigger picture. Lots of bands have split over musical differences, so the individual ego needs to be laid to rest, and in an age of Twitter, selfies, and self-promotion, that can be hard to do.
Choosing to remain silent or to downplay a specific instrumental part for the sake of the overall composition and its good health is a sure sign of teamwork and sacrifice.
Solo Collective – Part Two is a kind friend, with sweet piano arpeggios running along its spine and a lightness of being occupying every string. These strings are plucked lightly, picked like buttercups in a field, and they go further than just accompanying the keys; they help to develop and mature the sound. An upright posture cloaks the piano, but dissonance is incoming.
Ripeness Is All features a specially commissioned reading from Joseph Heller’s literary classic Catch-22. A strange, multi-layered dystopia is set in motion with a set of vertigo-inducing electronics. Narration loops to mirror the paradoxical and contradictory FUBAR-status of the novel. Electronics drop in pitch like a downed bomber; others soar above Yossarian’s swirling thoughts. It also contrasts the earlier section of the album, which was calm. This is napalm.
Holy Island featured on Solo Collective – Part One, but this is a brand new studio version, re-tweaked and redeveloped for a new year and a new record. Alongside tracks taken from live performances are self-produced pieces, based on ideas of slow soundscaping and coalescing, processing found sounds and placing them beside classical instrumentation, creating musically-stretched and completely natural environments; uninhibited music which somehow retains its classical ‘purity’ despite the intrusion of digital processing. The excellent post-production makes it nigh-on impossible to glimpse the digital elements, leaving the listener unable to pinpoint their exact location, at least earlier on. It’s a Jekyll and Hyde release, because the record shifts as it progresses. Electronics become more prominent, but strings are never far away.
It’s an all-star trio: Stolze has gone from chart hits to Avant Garde via an early love for techno and its blazing Berlin scene. He also co-founded Krakatau Records. AnneMüller has spent years touring and recording with Denmark’s Agnes Obel and is a long-term musical partner of Nils Frahm, including the collaborative 7fingers and the soundtrack to Victoria, which won Best Film Score at the German Film Awards. She’s also worked with German artists Markus Sieber and Ben Lukas Boysen, and she’ll be releasing her debut solo album via Erased Tapes later this year. Completing the trio, Reynolds has led cult ensembles Keyboard Choir and Braindead Collective. He’s actively involved in the UK experimental scene and he’s worked in collaboration with the contemporary dance company Neon Dance. The trio are no strangers to versatility or eclecticism, and their experiences help to shape Part Two. When it comes to combining piano, strings, and electronics, they’re in a league of their own.