The German pianist Hauschka, aka Volker Bertelmann, has been building a reputation over the last decade as a classically trained composer who is not afraid of exploring beyond the limitations of classical acoustic aesthetic. Hauschka’s compositions reflect a focus on orchestration similar in many ways to the serialism and other practices of early 20th century composers who have influenced him. With Hauschka’s latest release, Salon Des Amateurs (FatCat), listeners can experience a new side of his music influenced by dance beats and forms.
Salon Des Amateurs features Hauschka’s unique approach to instrumentation found on many of his past albums. The overall sound highlights the “prepared” piano as Hauschka constantly works to get unique sounds by attaching objects to the strings and hammers of the piano. This piano approach allows Hauschka to layer diverse sounds in each track all coming from the single instrument. Salon Des Amateurs also uses synthesizers, bass and drums, but the most interesting aspect of the sound is its ability to stay true to its electronic dance music foundation without sacrificing the mostly acoustic instrumentation.
Hauschka’s style throughout Salon Des Amateurs utilizes the minimalism of dance music as a pallet to explore timbre and textural colors like serial composers did in the beginning of the 20th century. The first track on the album, “Radar,” is one of many that offers a wonderful feeling of unfolding. The track opens with two simple plucked strings that create a beat eventually joined by layers of new instruments seamlessly transforming as the piece progresses. As each layer unfolds, a new world of sound opens, taking hold of the original motif of the piece. In addition to using his piano and synthesizer, Hauschka also creates a multi-dimensional sensation in his music by combining different recording techniques and effects on similar sounds.
Salon Des Amateurs represents a new potential in the musical forms most commonly used by electronic music. As Hauschka takes his orchestral style into this new musical sphere, his music demonstrates the constant evolution ignited by combinations of diverse musical influence.