After releasing the techno tinged Sekundenschlaf under the krill.minima moniker, German sound artist Marsen Jules returns to more ambient territory with The Endless Change of Colour and delves into jazzier, more avant garde grounds with his trio on Présence Acousmatique. Two albums of contrasting moods, varying immensely in style and sound; in both cases the results are marvellous.
The Endless Change of Colour, released on 12K, is a continuation of the sound we’ve grown accustomed to from Jules’ primary project. The album features gentle washes of reverb laden waves, changing ever so subtly in the background, never imposing itself too much on the listener; a close kin to Kyle Bobby Dunn‘s and Rafael Anton Irisarri.
Ambient music is often described in relation to landscapes. The less foreboding kind is seen as shades of greens and yellows, long strolls on a beautiful spring afternoon; all is radiant, all is bright. Darker scales and notes bring darker tones; they summon winter greys and change of season blues. Everything is wretched or thereabouts. Marsen Jules cuts to the chase and presents his latest work as a palette of morphing colours and tones, without clear boundaries. The 47-minute piece melts them altogether, and it works brilliantly. The Endless Change of Colour might be missing the more unorthodox sounds of Nostalgia and Golden, but these can be found in abundance on Présence Acousmatique.
The Endless Change of Colour sits happily in the background and acts as another layer of everyday life. Présence Acousmatique voices itself as an ever present force, dictating its less than comforting emotions to the audience. The trio combines modern composition, avant-garde jazz and film noir in such a way as to command the listener’s attention.
The closest approximation to the sound present on Présence Acousmatique is Dakota Suite & Emanuele Errante‘s brilliant 2009 album The North Green Down, one of my all time favourite modern classical albums. The inclusion of Dictaphone‘s saxophonist Roger Döring on “Histoire De La Nuit” and “Éclipse” bring in an element of darkjazz a la Bohren and Der Club of Gore. These two tracks show the collective at their strongest. Their narratives are relentless and they prove to be the highlights of a near flawless album. We’re almost six months in to the year and so far 2013 has proved to be rather disappointing in the contemporary classical field, but this album has definitely come to the rescue. As much as Jules’ solo work is consistently good, it is my humble opinion that with this formation he has struck gold. (Mohammed Ashraf)