Bersarin Quartett: III
Denovali Records

Thomas Bücker's Bersarin Quartett returns with its third prosaically titled collection, the project fundamentally a solo endeavour as opposed to a formal group involving multiple members. Regardless, the twelve soundworlds presented on III are certainly rich enough to suggest that the work of a full ensemble is performing. The press release characterizes Bersarin Quartett as Bücker's “electronic music project,” yet while that isn't untrue, it's hardly the whole picture. A typical setting is an expansive moodscape that pulls electronics, piano, beats, guitars, strings, and even vocals into its orbit, resulting in material of epic scope that no one would mistake for minimal. And while an undercurrent of shoegaze runs through the album in the form of buzzing electric guitars, that too is only a small part of an expansive picture that also makes room for post-rock and ambient-classical.

Bücker's said to be a perfectionist, and it's not hard to be convinced of it when the album material is considered. Every note seems to have been positioned with the utmost care, and the music impresses as meticulous. That said, it's not lacking in passion either, as demonstrated by the many dramatic peaks and valleys that surface within the twelve settings. Bersarin Quartett is, as mentioned, Bücker's solo project, but he's not entirely alone, with guests such as vocalist Clara Hill and saxophonist Daniel Hartwig helping out on a few tracks.

On an album whose music exudes no small amount of drama, the sixth track (all of them German-titled) rises to an especially intense level when intermittent blows punctuate the gloom. Gentler by comparison, the entrancing seventh features an orchestral-styled arrangement heavy in strings, woodwinds, and glockenspiel. If there's one III track that most explicitly bridges the electronic and classical realms (though it's hardly the only one, as the epic twelfth also proves), it's the lilting ninth for the way it blends electronically generated dub-like pulses with cello, oboe, and violins. Here's a particular case where all the different strands of Bücker's concept come together to glorious effect.

Bersarin Quartett's music is many things, but more than anything else III's tracks are moodscapes. Though melody and rhythm are present, the individual elements fuse indissolubly into a sound mass that registers as a total entity. Hazy themes intone alongside thick textures and string washes, while drum patterns ground the goings-on with a firm foundation, and an occasional field recording adds atmospheric character to evoke the kind of mood one associates with European espionage or Berlin noir.

November 2015