Though making prepared piano the focus of his work would seem limiting, Hauschka's Volker Bertelmann has pushed against any perceived boundaries with each of his albums -- except for Salon des Amateurs, where he smashes them. Named after a club in his native Düsseldorf, the album is Hauschka's take on dance music. While merging electronic and post-classical music is nothing new -- Jóhann Jóhannsson and Max Richter are two of Hauschka's leading contemporaries in this field -- bringing an instrument as delicate as the prepared piano into an arena as forceful as dance music is certainly novel. Yet Salon des Amateurs never feels like a novelty; instead, this is dance music on Hauschka's terms, at once refined and compulsively rhythmic. Bertelmann continues to choose his collaborators wisely, teaming with Múm drummer Samuli Kosminen to give the album its percussive heart, Calexico's John Convertino and Joey Burns for additional percussion and flavor, and violinist Hilary Hahn, who lends a graceful solo to “Girls.” While these tracks aren’t bangers or dancefloor anthems in the traditional sense, they are extremely danceable and nod to dance music’s roots as much as they point the way to post-classical music’s future. “Cube” and “Radar” incorporate electronics subtly and seamlessly into their delicate but relentless rhythms, while “Two AM”'s looping piano melody and four-on-the-floor beat hold up a largely acoustic mirror to house music. Whether or not these songs are ever played next to the latest dance music sensation at a club, Salon des Amateurs is a bold, accomplished work that ranks among Hauschka’s most exciting albums.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares