»Arches« is the first collaborative album by brothers Simon and Tobias Lanz. It was written for and performed on self-built prototypes of wind instruments that were inspired by the classic pipe organ, but allowed the two composer-performers to go beyond its limitations in several ways. The music on this 40-minute long album for the Swiss Hallow Ground label was conceived and recorded by the two co-founders of the CRTTR collective and label during an artist residency in May 2022 in their home town of Bern. More than a mere document of a performance however, »Arches« combines the artists’ interest in exploring uncharted new creative and tonal ground inside of and beyond the realm of drone music with their background in visual art and design as a conceptually concise whole.
Simon and Tobias have a combined background in electronic music as well as a shared penchant for drone music. They hence designed these novel instruments in a way that allows for microtonal tuning to be able to overcome the restrictions inherent to the dominance of a twelve tone-based scale in Western music and work with a sonic palette that is much wider and nuanced than that of the conventional pipe organ. Furthermore, the physical design of these instruments widely differs from that of those which inspired them. This allows—or more precisely, forces—the musicians to freely invent and explore entirely novel playing techniques.
These factors, of course, also have an impact on the compositional process, which by design needs to be unconventional. The Lanz brothers worked with a graphic score for the four movements of the piece that forms »Arches« so as to adequately visualise the manifold tonal nuances of their instruments. This graphic score in turn was reinterpreted for the album release by Ramon Keiming, adding another dimension to it. Read from left to right, this remix of the score allows the listeners to follow an interpretation of the evolution of these dronescapes while the record plays, urging them to add their own interpretation.
This retroactive visualisation and thus spatialisation of the music is perfectly in line with its performance, which at all times factored in the acoustic affordances of the Prozess Bar in Bern. In many different ways, the Lanz brothers now invite their audience to join them there and explore the near-infinite possibilities of their curious instruments together with them. Much like Hallow Ground label mates such as Kali Malone or FUJI||||||||||TA, they are dedicated to enriching and expanding upon the musical and sonic qualities of pipe organs, but with widely different aesthetical results. To call »Arches« a unique record with an unheard-of sound is not hyperbole, but only factually correct.