Ekkehard Ehlers

Music for William Forsythe

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The label Whatness focuses on interdisciplinary projects. What brings together Ekkehard Ehlers, Sebastian Meissner, and Thom Willems for this CD is the fact that they all wrote music for the dance company Ballett Frankfurt. Music for William Forsythe culls four such pieces between ten and 20 minutes in duration. Following the release of the remarkable CD Plays, some music critics have begun to portray Ehlers as a recipe composer. Truth is they may not be all wrong and the three tracks he contributes here hand over proof to his detractors. But frankly, as long as he delivers such beautiful music, who cares? "Endless House" results from a collaboration with Meissner. An orchestral sample is shaped into a waltz (it was produced for dance, right?), but the 3/4 meter limps, skipping a beat once in a while. The origin of the sample is not revealed, but it could be something out of one of Gustav Mahler's symphonies; it has this diaphanous elegance (Robert Lippok also plundered one of his compositions for Open Close Open). Can you stutter sensually? That's what this piece does. "Woolf Phrase" and "Scattered Crowd" are the work of Ehlers alone, and definitely fit the aesthetic established on Plays. The first one features string drones; the other is more ethereal. Willems closes the proceedings with "The Scott Work Live." Very different, it consists of a glitchy laptop improvisation with analog electronics running in the background, a low hum and high-pitched wails providing the backbone of the piece. The relation to dance is even harder to fathom, but the artist builds up an impressive climax. The disc works well as a whole and winds up a surprisingly comfortable listen -- for experimental electronica, that is. Recommended.

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