Soundtrack of our lives

Hauschka – Salon des Amateurs

Stream – ‘Sunrise’

There are times where the human capacity for amazement goes to lethargy and would be rarely woken up, only by lights coming from dreams; these lights would come up in different shapes through any of our five senses. Luckily for me, this glow invaded my ears like a shot into my blurry time.

This glow is Hauschka’s seventh opus: Salon des Amateurs. It’s more than evident that Hauschka always goes beyond and experiments with new styles and sounds and would leave aside every prejudice towards any thing that can produce music, and if he likes it, then he uses it. However, there’s always a little something that would keep us on the track, as we all need a reference point not to get lost in the middle of the forest, and Hauschka’s music uses the piano as the compass of his adventures to find new lands.

The first track is ‘Radar’: symmetric sounds waving hello soaked into an experimental and wrapping atmosphere, with certain vintage movements through trumpets. There’s a considerable number of instruments and details that together would bring the idea of time elapsed. Even when the style chosen may seem syncopate, there’s always the good even bar to be the torch light of this dark path of the world Hauschka starts introducing to our senses.

‘TwoAM” introduces itself with a strong and sharp melody, a concurrent shape that would be complemented quietly by other sounds until breakdown, which means the development of this story has started. The featuring idea of this track is pianos, both sharp and low, and would melt into the climax submitting their wills to the incidental notes of a cello, antithesis, and then back to the main statement with a quiet piano line that finally seems to fade in front of electric sounds. A distorted reality touched by outer static and magnetic fields, like planets singing out loud.

Track number three, ‘Girls’, became one of my favorites: the start of it may seem a little bit standard and includes a pretty much exploited resource in the 90s dance music, but gives a nice twist introducing piano notes that really deviate the song to a wider landscape. The piano seems an idea, like the reflection of deeds done and the though of making amends. The middle of the track presents violins and cello, as a female statement speaking out her broken heart. Heart pounding, then runaway.

At this point I really wonder: despite the fact that the artist really used whatever resources were at his reach, including electronic ones, still he managed to make this album so organic. I’d dare to think all sounds come from tangible instruments, and that would really be shocking and pretty much to admire; both methods are more that OK to bring to our minds a mix of feelings like this.

There’s also a recurrent sound in Hauschka’s music, and that’s like someone’s breath or a mechanic device, more in the fashion of a damaged wind-up watch, where time seems to lose its own sanity. This sound is present in ‘Ping’, the fourth track, which offers several textures, almost like the sound we imagine for time traveling or for a door leading to a hideaway locked in our minds, like our very own Pandora’s box.

Time is ticking, and brighter notes start the track that has been chosen as the fifth of this Salon, which is also my second favorite song: ‘Cube’. The selection, bars, and setting reminds me of those favored by Mexican Music: there’re colors with a sense of magic surrounding our very own reality through intertwined fading sounds floating on a fair ground made basically by a piano line.

‘Subconscious’. There’s also a texture here that would remind the sense of reality, like the sound of touching fabrics; it’s not fabrics at all, but the sound of wire brushes against a snare drum. The mix of more than 3 instruments and a constant factor brought through piano (again) really take a chance and take our imagination beyond; it’s chaos embodied in the physics of wind, proportion, and magnetism.

‘NoSleep’: interesting music to what could be a nightmare. The whole world is asleep, and our everyday scenarios unveil their secrets while the moon and the stars bring the spirits of whatever happened during the daytime to throw them away. I really loved the piano in this one, which worked as a syncopate constant in the equation that multiplies the number of our dark memories. It’s like watching the street we walk when the sun is out, and then realize the city has a spirit of itself.

‘Tanzbein’; the title itself makes me think of ‘tanzen’ (to dance). Again, there’s a 90ish resource in the air, but then goes down in the pentagram and transforms the melody into a waterfall. Piano goes fast, almost like chased, and becomes the picture of anxiety in confusion, uncertainty before the upcoming dark times. I think of this song as the futile attempt to run away from our destinies, like trying to block the natural course of events, and this idea is definitely conveyed through the concurrent piano.

The penultimate world is called ‘TaxiTaxi’, a merry note introduced by wind instruments, and incidental sounds of an electric guitar bass. The truth about Hauschka is that there’s always the surprise factor: you can’t really have a well built idea of what a song of his will sound, because the moment you think something will be followed or preceded by certain structure, you can be 100% positive it’d not be that way (I really love that!). This is the surprise factor we get in this track: excellent and somewhat martial landscape (almost like the soundtrack of a merry parade), an orange song with that breathing sound on the back.

‘TaxiTaxi’ starts fading away, and every instrument is silenced as the end approaches, until there’s a 1-second vacuum interrupted eventually by ‘Sunrise’, where it seems our damaged clock is finally back and becomes part of the standard normality. Our minds have survived the passage from surreal to real, the difference is that now they’re stronger and bolder: the decisive and tinged sounds of every instrument will finally come to an extended stress (along with amazing drumming) to confirm sanity is back.

I truly loved this album; it definitely comes from a restless master mind that’s always willing to find more possibilities of sounds and experiences that will eventually blow our minds off. The rhythm of this story reminds me of the myth of Persephone: the one who went to the Underworld, then back, and survived to even the darkest and hidden corners of our collective subconscious, yet she became stronger.

Salon des Amateurs is a complete exploration by Hauschka through the landscape of our subconscious, a representation of what’s deep inside and we cannot even feel or perceive, but has been given now with vocal chords and decided to speak out through the length of 10 songs, through a fine and universal language like music, surrounding the ephemeral scenario of an eternal and unnoticed struggle.

Words: Tonan


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