Ten Questions With Orcas

Vieo Abiungo
Monty Adkins
Bersarin Quartett
Black Eagle Child
Brother Sun, Sister Moon
Bryter Layter
Claro Intelecto
Cock And Swan
J. Crunch & H. Nakamura
G. Davis & F.-Marie Uitti
Gareth Dickson
Roger Doyle
Ex Confusion
Fear Falls Burning
Greg Haines
Nina Kraviz
Listening Mirror
Markus Mehr
Matt Northrup
S. Peters & S. Roden
Riverz End
School of Seven Bells
Yoshinori Takezawa
Manuel Tur
Robert Turman

Compilations / Mixes

Evy Jane
Father You See Queen
Tevo Howard
Mr. Beatnick
Tony Ollivierra
Spargel Trax

Windmill • Waterwheel

Bersarin Quartett: II
Denovali Records

Fashioning a successful marriage of electronics and orchestral strings is never an easy thing to accomplish, especially when any hint of a wrong turn can invite comparisons to overblown Prog-rock attempts at similar fusions from decades past. But on his second Bersarin Quartett outing, Thomas Bücker makes doing so seem like the most natural thing in the world. Four years on from the group's self-titled debut album, II effects a seamless marriage between electronic and orchestral elements, and builds on that foundation by adding acoustic bass, electric guitar, piano, electric piano, and drums to the instrumental fold. Though integral to the Bersarin Quartett sound, strings in this context function as one instrument among many and are thus integrated naturally into the arrangements Bücker creates for the album's dozen pieces (thirteen on the double-vinyl version). The music also benefits from the absence of any overly self-conscious or contrived urge on his part to make the material sound ‘classical'; instead, each piece develops in accordance with a logic that transcends genre.

Bücker apparently converted Bersarin Quartett into a bona fide group project in 2011 for some live performances, but the evidence at hand suggests that all of the recording's programming and arranging has been done by Bücker alone. Not that that's an issue, as he's more than capable of conjuring a full ensemble sound using the resources at hand; hear, for example, how convincingly Bücker conjures the impression of a full orchestra (replete with strings, piano, woodwinds, and percussion) during the mournful “Perlen, Honig Oder Untergang.” The prototypical Bersarin Quartett piece is multi-textured and slow-moving (“Einsame Wandeln Still Im Sternensaal,” “Im Glanze Der Kometen”), and it's often music of dramatic sweep, too (“Im Lichte Des Anderen”). A searching, even mysterioso character is cultivated through the use of shimmering strings and atmospheric synthesizer effects during “Zum Greifen Nah,” while the slow-motion track “Der Mond, Der Schnee Und Du,” prodded by a heavy drum attack, situates Bersarin Quartett within post-rock territory, even if it's one that's rather more strings-heavy than the norm. Arresting also is the too-short “Alles Ist Ein Wunder” where the call of a three-note French horn motif and plucked strings are taken up by a fuller arrangement of strings and electronic percussion.

Bücker also makes room for gentleness on II, as “Keine Angst” demonstrates in its ever-so-delicate handling of piano and strings materials. Arriving at album's end, “Hier Und Jetzt” and “Jedem Zauber Wohnt Ein Ende Inne” prove to be even more soothing in their becalmed treatments of strings, keyboards, and woodwinds. II is, in a word, a fully realized and oft-beautiful recording of powerful orchestral-electronic music executed with immense skill and artfulness, and Bücker's fellow genre practitioners could learn much from its example.

April 2012