Boomkat Product Review:
Hauschka slips into an unnerving, ECM-adjacent mode with "Upstream" - one for fans of Cliff Martinez, Deaf Center or David Darling.
If you only know Hauschka's whimsical prepared piano compositions, "Upstream" might surprise you. Here, the German composer has assembled a sharp soundtrack to filmmaker Rob Petit and acclaimed writer Robert Macfarlane's experimental film about Scotland's River Dee. The film was shot entirely from the air, and Hauschka's score similarly seems to soar through open vistas, capturing the evocative highland landscape with sparse, reverberating piano and scraped strings.
Hauschka's familiar rhythmic clang is still just about present on 'Movement 2', but the prepared piano elements are pin-prick sparse against a backdrop of almost Sunn o)))-esque bass drone and gaseous atonal shimmers. When the album comes to a close with 'Uisge Dhè', a remarkably restrained piece of field recording and cello drone that foregrounds prose poems in Gaelic and English, it's like a release of breath, a reward for trudging through a near half-hour of foreboding moods. It's the perfect end to a record that echoes the desolation of the Scottish winter without ever resorting to cliché - there's nary a Bagpipe in sight. So good.