Hauschka - Salon Des Amateurs
Hauschka, the alias of Volker Bertelmann, has established over an eight album career a reputation for innovating and building upon the sound of the classical piano, expanding the concept of the “prepared piano” in which the purity of a piano’s sound is altered through attaching objects to its strings. His previous album Foreign Landscapes involved him working with a full orchestra so it is probably of no surprise that this latest album sees him striking in an altogether different musical direction.
Salon Des Amateurs, named after a local bar/club is a splicing of piano to dance music. This has produced a collection of piano led pieces that are tightly integrated with percussion and bass sounds. To follow the album in the order the tracks are presented takes you through a night out in Düsseldorf, from opener 'Radar' through events such as 'Girls', 'TaxiTaxi' and ultimately, 'Sunrise'. It’s probably for the best for all concerned that there isn’t a track named 'Kebab'.
Despite sharing similar templates each track builds into separate identities through use across the album of strings, brass, broad percussion with an eclectic set of collaborators. Contributing to this album are múm drummer Samuli Kosminen, Calexico’s John Convertino and Joe Burns and Grammy award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn. Through this mix Bertelmann strikes an adventurous, occasionally fun, but always inventive direction to which all must follow.
Whether this is an album for everyone is up for debate. Whether it fully captures the essence of dance music is also probably related to where you’re coming from musically. What is clear is that this is an album wishing to strike out in new territory and for that, together with the music that this strategy has produced should be applauded.