Martina Berther / Philipp Schlotter
Hallow Ground
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1Unruhe 14:10
2LFO 1 7:56
3Gallia 5:03
4LFO 2 6:26
5Frachter 5:11

Martina Berther and Philipp Schlotter are prolific in their respective ways, having been active in pop and jazz music, respectively, as well as playing in bands and exploring the outer fringes of sound art or composing music for film. Their first joint album »Matt« was recorded over the course of four days in a church in the Swiss village after which the album was named. Berther and Schlotter worked with the buildingʼs organ as well as synthesizers and electric bass to follow an experimental approach that oscillated between composition and free improvisation. The five pieces, recorded directly to tape by Flo Götte without any additional overdubs, are characterised by an intimacy and rawness that calls to mind the introspective atmosphere of Hallow Ground label mateʼs FUJI||||||||||TA or mastering engineer Lawrence Englishʼs latest album for the Swiss label. »Matt« is the result of two versatile composers and musicians executing minimalist ideas by giving them plenty of space to unfold.

The album opens with »Unruhe,« a composition that is based on the twelve-tone technique. Using a stopwatch to ensure the adherence to the pre-determined temporal intervals between the individual notes, Berther and Schlotter used the church organ and synthesizers for an ominous piece that traverses different moods and levels of intensity throughout its 14-minute run time. »LFO1« and »LFO2« are different variations of the same concept: Based on a synthesizer preset and structured by an organ drone, two tone generators slowly fall silent, resulting in elegiac pieces that call to mind the work of Éliane Radigue. »Frachter« and »Gallia« put more emphasis on percussive elements. Again working with organ as well as Bertherʼs prepared electric bass, this improvisation comprises interlocking textures that sound almost menacing on »Frachter,« while they create a very different atmosphere on »Gallia.« These notable discrepancies in sound and mood are even more astonishing if you consider that the two pieces are based on the exact same recording, played at different speeds.

As two variations on the same idea with very different results, these two pieces perfectly represent how the duo effectively creates emotionally affective sound worlds with very few means. Berther and Schlotterʼs conceptual minimalism yields rewarding, multi-faceted aesthetic results. »Matt« is an intimate album, marked by a sense of vividness and spontaneity, but also the product of compositional conciseness.