In my time-honoured listening practice I have encountered a lot of musicians using sampling to construct their works. Some of them brilliant, the large part unmemorable. Well, listen to what your mature brother is going to tell now: ME Raabenstein – the Berlin-based artist who published this masterwork under the Slowcream nickname – might be one of the finest assemblers of orchestral snippets and concrete materials ever heard by this appraiser. And is spinning endlessly, never ceasing to amaze with its magnificence, exactness and intelligence. It’s been two days, and nothing else was accepted as the house’s soundtrack.
What started as a commission from an unspecified modern dance project has developed into five tracks of impeccably constructed bionic creations, pieces where a mood – usually quite dramatic – is immediately established with just a couple of touches. From there, the music evolves without looking back: either looped or seamed in diverse permutations these fragments leave enraptured, halfway through a desolate sense of broken-heartedness and the awe that children feel during the first evening at the auditorium with their parents. There’s something in Slowcream’s approach that renders the whole event majestic, minus the pomposity. Overwhelmingly simple, one would say, with peculiarly resounding reverberations and occasional dissonant factors that add to the mystery.
The samples are meshed with live improvisation, the culprit being Greg Haines who adds cellos and organs in three episodes. His suggestive contributions provide the definitive coup de grace for any latent resistance, adding a dose of ambiguity to atmospheres solemn enough to cause the rational activity to completely stop, in order to focus to the acoustic intensification. In particular, “Moisture” – built upon a pizzicato background – elicits unspeakable memories via the juxtaposition of a hummed low-register melody amidst marvellous string glissandos and sparse hints to pianistic moderation. This discipline of the unexpected is signified by compositional shapes that may give the impression of typicality at the outset but, on the contrary, represent splendidly amorphous examples of cut’n’paste creativity. The entire album is replete with this kind of sensibility, the attention to every detail perceptible in each of its 40 minutes, the emotional level always high.
I had not met Slowcream until yesterday, yet am willing to bet that as soon as your copy of And starts spraying these substances in the room you’ll be instantly hooked. This is an extraordinary release which will appeal to open-minded classical lovers, minimalism, sampladelia and – in general – those who are able to distinguish a serious craftsman from a dabbler right away. No reason exists to miss it.