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hauschka - Versions Of The Prepared Piano
2007 is a vintage year for the Hauschka fan, we're only four months in and we've already had two albums from Volker Bertelmann's gorgeous piano project. This is the second (after Fat Cat's incredible 'Room to Expand') and pits a selection of artists against Bertelmann in a somewhat inspired skit on the traditional 'remix album' concept. You might be pretty burnt out on remixes alltogether, I know I struggle sometimes, but where Bertelmann excels is in his ability to choose artists that will do his work justice. Picking tracks from his 2005 album 'The Prepared Piano' the artists lend their stylistic advances to pieces of music that were just stripped down enough for a 'remix' to actually do the tracks justice, and the album is kicked off in style by French lady Eglantine Gouzy. Gouzy instantly shows a masterful restraint, lending her lovely vocals to Bertelmann's instrumental work 'Two Stones', this is a perfect example of a remix that can enhance the power of the original, and Gouzy's romantic delivery sounds totally at home pitted against Bertelmann's piano work. Elsewhere we have German chanteuse extraordinaire Barbara Morgenstern coming straight from the commercial and critical success of last year's 'The Grass is Always Greener' and producing an equally addictive slice of electronic pop, using haunting motif's of Bertelmann's 'Where Were You?' as a guide. It's not all pop music though, Japanese experimental deity Nobukazu Takemura jumps straight in with his glitchy and chopped up version of 'Kein Wort', melting it beyond all recognition, and the album's surprise highlight comes from 12k/Mille Plateaux/Raster Noton stalwart Frank Bretschneider - adding his distinctive rhythm and electronic grind to the track, resulting in an intense soup of dreamy post-shoegazer electronics. The album draws effortlessly to a close with Tarwater's simply gorgeous take on 'Two Stones', a track which ended up dropping into the band's recent Morr Music album in revised form, and you suddenly realise you've just listened to a remix album without having to skip a track or remove the cd altogether. It's quite an achievement really, and with a keen ear for picking very differing artists who are all respectful to the source material Bertelmann has managed to put together yet another hugely enjoyable album. It seems there's life in the old piano yet - highly recommended!