Jan St. Werner


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The fourth volume in Jan St. Werner's Fiepblatter series of experimental works, Felder isn't merely an album, but a starting point for a series of public installations in which the participating artists can interpret the album however they wish. The sprawling, amorphous album gives the interpreters a lot to work with. Many of the album's pieces are lengthy, fluidly shifting through sections without any obvious beginning or ending. There's a constant propulsion, but no obvious rhythms. It's some of Werner's most abstract, formless work, with barely any of the rock or dance influences present in his output as one-half of Mouse on Mars. It's also not as rough or glitchy as the solo material under his Lithops alias, or as minimal as Microstoria, his collaboration with Oval's Markus Popp. Found sounds and acoustic instruments such as cello and French horn are present, but it's not as symphonic or operatic as his previous Fiepblatter releases. On paper, the album seems like it could end up being a jumbled mess of mutated sound, but it's very meticulously assembled, and somehow not as challenging as one might expect. The album still sounds unmistakably like Werner, and there's still a playfulness to it, even if it isn't quite in the overtly humorous way that Mouse on Mars is often known for. It has textures and effects familiar to his previous work, but here he's pushing them into new directions. The album's most straightforward melodic moments are the two brief "Foggy Esor" pieces, particularly the second one, which has bright tones waving and bouncing around a warped quasi-rhythm. "Slipped Through Heaven" is built around a piano phrase from an unreleased Popol Vuh composition, surrounding its graceful, reflective notes with decayed, fraying noises. "Singoth" surrounds a stately brass section with fluttering, buzzing aural hallucinations. A fascinating open-ended audio experiment, Felder is an unpredictable album that pushes the limits of technology and composition.

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