Static: Freedom of Noise
Karaoke Kalk

For Static fans, Freedom of Noise will be something of an event, given that it's the first Static full-length Hanno Leichtmann's released since 2005's Re:Talking About Memories. So what inspired the Berlin-based producer to revisit his primary solo project, when he could just as easily have carried on with his group projects, namely Groupshow (alongside Jan Jelinek and Andrew Pekler) and Denseland (with David Moss and Hannes Strobl)? While at a Berlin festival for improvised music, he hit upon the idea of working with free improv musicians but within a pop context, and soon thereafter recruited harpist Clare Cooper, trumpet player Axel Dörner, and saxophonist Tobias Delius as principal collaborators for the project. In addition to vocalists David Moss, Falco Teichmann, and Yanira Castro, Leichtmann also works the contributions of Kassian Troyer (guitar), Nicholas Bussmann (cello), Sabine Vogel (flute), Andrea Neumann (piano), Magda Mayas (organ), Clayton Thomas (double bass), Zoe Irvine (electronics), and Maura Rougieux (background vocals) into the album's forty-seven minutes.

In its ten songs, Leichtmann overlays his loop-based song structures with the live contributions of his guests, resulting in tightly constructed and detail-heavy settings that nevertheless do allow for free-ranging soloing in a couple of instances. Even so, Freedom of Noise may be predicated upon the idea of integrating scripted and improvised passages, but it's the former that's more prominent—which isn't to suggest that's there little of the titular freedom on display, as Leichtmann allows for a generous degree of inner exploration: “Sad Rocket,” for example, gives Dörner ample room to blow and “Collage, Holz, Papier” includes much experimental cross-talk between electronics, harp, and saxophone. Vocal and instrumental settings typically alternate, with the vocal pieces kept under a slightly tighter leash, so to speak, and the instrumentals allowing for more solo space. Included among the album's more memorable pieces are: the title track, which couples a motorik-industrial pulse with an Eno-like monotone vocal; “Stubby Fingers,” a richly arranged setting for jazz-tinged horns and female vocals; and “Gitarre Melancholisch,” a soothing outro of bright harp plucks and double bass playing. The album comes closest to realizing its pop spirit during “The Boy Who Ran Into the Sun,” an electronic-folk tune that exudes a subtle Sgt. Pepper flavour in the flute-like electronics whispering below the male singer's voice. If the album's songs are distinguished by one thing above all else, it's the richness of their arrangements, as Leichtmann draws upon the resources of his large cast in building up a given song's content. Another strength is the broad range of styles covered by the songs, with jazz and krautrock elements, among others, working their way into the electronic pop mix.

October 2011