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Returns . Sack & Blumm


staubgold 89
2009. cd . dl

Harald Sack Ziegler and Frank Schültge Blumm have held their unstamped soundkite into the winds for almost five years – which is longer than ever before. On their new album "Returns", it has finally landed, precisely and accurately – as usual.

For the predecessor "Kind Kind" (staubgold 42 CD/LP, 2003), Sack & Blumm had employed the postal service to bridge the distance between Cologne and Berlin by sending "musical" letters. For "Returns" contrary to their usual practice they sat side by side in front of their recording equipment in Berlin to be able to communicate their musical ideas more directly then their previous musical long-distance relationship had allowed them.

And although Harald Sack Ziegler has again made whole boys choirs pale by comparison with his most recent solo album "Punkt" (staubgold 59 CD, 2005) and FS Blumm has recently entered into a conversation with female voices in his Old Splendifolia and "Bobby & Blumm" projects, "Returns" is – again – an album without any vocals.

But they do tell stories. Sack & Blumm present a very autonomous, unpretentious music; music which caters to no audience and which is vaguely reminiscent of the kind of music children play, but which never attempts to emulate their naïveté, as the subtle virtuosity with which they play their instruments informs the listener. They’re not so much playful as they are receptive in their play, always willing and prepared to follow their ears, which hear music in all kinds of noises.

Sack & Blumm give each other a lot of space. Within these spaces, their instruments meet, mostly without the disguise of effects. And just like the drops on the cover designed by Eric "E*Rock" Mast (head of the Audio Dregs label) are not just a display of themselves but seem to present a microscopic viewing of something underneath them, the compositions of Sack & Blumm are also apt to be acoustic amplifiers of minutest soundscapes, to serve as magnifying glasses for extremely delicate musical processes and events.

And there are quite a lot of these on "Returns". Seven guest musicians left their traces on the 23 tracks. Yet, these have a more composed structure and are a lot clearer than the music on their two previous albums "Shy Noon" and "Kind Kind". Elaborately arranged fabrics of percussion (which you can hear on "Toe Naruto", which is also a good place to start listening to the album); the interplay of a many-voiced horns with trunks, doors, guitars, pianos, elastophones and unobtrusive electronica; a melody triggering fleeting memories of a western (in "Psyduck Moon"); breathing sound loops and the single beat at the end of "Mac Grumpig", which comes just when you stopped waiting for it – all of this does not add up to a randomly assembled jigsaw of sounds. Instead, it is a kite which was released and steered by safe and steady hands, and which inhabits the winds of all climate zones.

Sack & Blumm

Harald "Sack" Ziegler and Frank Schültge "Blumm" are Sack & Blumm. First introduced with a 7" release on Dhyana Rec. ("Die fünfte Dengelophonie") in 1998 Sack & Blumm spread rumours and appeared in a variety of radio and dj charts that year. With their 7" for Staubgold - "Sylvester Orchester 2000"/"Maus-Garage" (staubgold 6) - released in summer 1999, and their debut cd on Tomlab in autumn that year, Sack & Blumm continued a homerecording series that travels between their postboxes in Cologne and Berlin. The duo released it's highly acclaimed second full-length album "Shy Noon" on Gefriem in 2000.

Sack & Blumm, classically trained on their instruments French Horn and guitar, are not a band or a studio project but may be described rather as a homerecording project that was conceived independently in their bedroom studios in Berlin and Cologne. The digital multi-trackers and the German postal service ferrying their ideas back and forth have definitely been playing a major role in the production of their album "Kind Kind" (Staubgold, 2003). Tracks were produced in several steps, e.g. Frank would record an African finger piano for a track and send a DAT to Harald in Cologne who would then layer the recording with his French horn and send the tape back to Berlin.

Instead of sequencing work on computers, the music lives from the experience of two musicians. Folk themes are set against digital fragmentations, and techno tropes are taken up on acoustic instruments. Most of the instruments are played live onto the multi-track and the arrangements of the electronic sounds are produced with Harald's toy instruments. Structures arise from their curiosity in the origin and the physicality of sounds (wood, stone, sheet metal, paper, air... ) and from experimenting and playing with the materials (plucking, beating, rubbing, blowing...).

Harald "Sack" Ziegler was born in 1961 in Berlin and is living in Cologne since 1986. More or less at the same time he started to compose and perform his own music and got involved in the 1980s tape scene. Harald is involved in numerous projects from radio plays to classical music and well-known in Germany for remarkable live performances featuring his collection of toy instruments and lovely underground pop songs. He was a guest musician for Mouse On Mars (contribution to the cd "Iaora Tahiti", brass arrangements for the "Niun Niggung" cd), Faust (live) and Kreidler (live).

Frank Schültge "Blumm" was born in 1968 in Bremen and lives in Berlin now where he is working as a musician and a producer for radio plays. Frank has continously released solo instrumental albums on Morrmusic, Audio Dregs and Staubgold and has collaborated with Bobby Baby in Bobby & Blumm (Morrmusic) and Kat Cosm's Jana in Old Splendifolia (Plop).