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Weserbergland's Am Ende Der Welt

05-15-2020 | By Sander Roscoe Wolff | Issue 109

Am Ende der Welt. Photo by Per-Einar Einarsen - Used with permission

Weserbergland is a project led by Norwegian composer Ketil Vestrum Einarsen. He's deeply rooted in classical music, progressive rock, and experimental electronic composition. Their newest release, from Apollon Records, is Am Ende Der Welt. Compared to their previous release, it pushes farther, goes deeper, and is simultaneously more challenging and more rewarding for the intrepid listener who is willing to step off the cliff with them.

I should mention, from the outset, that there are two different versions of the work. The first is a standard mix, available on vinyl, CD, and as a digital download. The vinyl pressing was done in Sony's Oslo facility on 140 gram vinyl. It is a very limited edition of 250 copies.

The other is a remarkable, masterful binaural mix created by Jacob Holm-Lupo. This mix is available only as a digital download. Both versions are distinct listening experiences and, because both versions are affordable, I recommend getting both.

According to Jacob, "both masters were done in 24/96 for the high quality streaming services, 24/44.1 for the rest. The binaural parts of the mixing process were done in Logic's Binaural Pan tool, using both the Spherical and Planar modes. The mastering chain included Lindell Audio's fantastic digital reproduction of Klein & Hummel's all-tube UE100 eq, as well as a Drawmer 1973. As the final stage in the mastering chain, I used a Weiss DS1 mastering limiter. Monitoring was done on Neumann KH310 monitors."

The album features performances by Ketil's long-time friend and collaborator Gaute Storsve on prepared guitar, turntables by Mattias Olsson (credited as Molesome), and saxophone harmonics from Jørgen Mathisen. Jan Terje Augestad provided prepared piano, and Maria Grigoryeva played all of the string parts. Ketil is credited with 'computer,' and this is where much of the magic took place.

The recording process gathered the raw materials for the project. Ketil then built the piece as a sort of sonic collage, often radically manipulating the recorded performances, and reassembling them in a variety of ways. The result is a single, long track that's perfectly divided for the LP, and plays without interruption in the CD and binaural versions.

Often, when I listen to music for the first time, I make notes of my thoughts, feelings, and impressions. I thought I'd share these, here.

Expansive vistas.
Strings and guitar, floating, drifting. Beautiful. Emotional.
Explosive digital rhythms begin to intrude.
Twangly guitars run
through a blender begin to pulse, a primordial birth.
Disjointed cohesion, urgent movement, a melodic basis grounding chaos.
Gentle reminders of the beginning peaking through.

The sun shining on the water, a moment of blissful, glistening peace.
Bowed bass like a deep breath, dancing diamonds of processed piano above.
The clock is ticking, birds singing, distorted voices chanting,
tension mounting, a kind of violence exerted upon the heart.
Pushed beyond breaking, a gasp, a cry, a primordial scream toward a darkening sky.
Everything necessary begins to die.

This tearing apart, the ende will start.
A return, of sorts, to a
familiar place.
The vistas emerge from the dense fog, slowly
Why am I weeping?
The voices return, the drifting seas, the strings pull hard.
A gentle reminder of the start.
A peaceful pianissimo extending out toward the horizon.
The beats begin again, the chaos renewed, crumbling structures distorted, manipulated,
catapulted into entropy and, from this
collapse emerges a new form.
Vague shapes rise, pipes call them forth. The horizon dissolves.
The old world has ended.
A new brutal beauty is born from stick, and string, and reed, and horn.
A new brutal beauty is born.

If you're feeling a bit trepidatious, you can listen to both the standard and binaural mixes for free on Bandcamp. Still, if you're interested in bold creative statements, or challenging music, I don't think you'll be disappointed. The CD is also available from many sources, including Amazon. If you can order it from a local retailer, that's the way to go.

Read an interview with Ketil from August of 2019, where he discusses the making of this album. Follow Weserbergland on Facebook