The gentle glow of neoclassical chamber pop
The recent serene wintery weather has been ideal for deeper forays into more tranquil sonic landscapes. And despite the city’s reputation for its harder electronic scene, Berlin’s notoriety for the more soothing sounds of neoclassical bedroom-pop is growing, thanks to a plethora of talented, younger musicians.
Berlin’s unique situation, where both classical and electronic scenes easily co-exist, has helped spurn this growth in modern, neoclassical music. Artists here have access to both classical and electronic resources, with the ability to perform in a myriad of venues.
Within the world of neoclassical music, Berlin native Nils Frahm’s influence on the local community has been unprecedented. Yet his work alone doesn’t define the local scene. The city is awash with talented classical artists, a mix of those who grew up in the GDR period, to those who have recently started to call Berlin their home.
The past year has been the strongest yet for Berlin’s prodigious neoclassical community, one that saw an astonishing amount of albums released. Amidst those releases there has been music from the Potsdam-based duo CEEYS, who released the album ‘Hausmusik’ on Neue Meister; Lambert released the collaborative opus ‘False’ on Mercury KX, Ben Lukas Boysen put out ‘Mirage’ on Erased Tapes, and Icelandic composer Viktor Orri Árnason dropped ‘VAST’ on Bedroom Community. And of course, not forgetting the two LPs released by Nils Frahm himself.
Helping merge the gentle sonic plateaus of chamber music and pop are the likes of newer Berlin residents Niklas Paschburg and Polish composer Hania Rani. Classical composer Paschburg, originally from Hamburg, released his second LP Svalbard on !7K last year. This was swiftly followed up with the collaborative single ‘Bathing in Blue’.
The single, a rework of the original track taken from the album release, features UK singer Millie Turner, and came about whilst Paschburg was actively looking for a singer to work with. “I immediately fell in love with her voice,” Paschburg says about the discovery. “We just sent her the track with some notes, and she just nailed it on the first take.”
Now with plenty of time on his hands, the producer-composer is actively working on his next album, a project that has been influenced by his recent experiences. “I definitely have the feeling that I’ll have a few singers on it,” he says about the forthcoming release, “all because it went so well with Millie Turner.”
This kind of pan-European collaboration has been a cause for celebration within the Europavox team as of late. It’s also something that Berlin-based, Polish composer Hania Rani has been experimenting with, as she awaits the release of her collaborative EP alongside Gondwana Records labelmates Portico Quartet.
Rani has been treading the waters of mixed musical styles, combining the classical, with the pop to great success. Last year, the composer-pianist released her second album on Gondwana Records, entitled ‘Home’, a record that plays on her immigration status, following her transition from the Polish capital to the German. It was following the album’s release, that the Polish singer decided to team up with Portico Quartet on a release which sees the two acts break new ground, remixing their respective songs.
“I think that the most interesting [thing] in such projects, and in my opinion in working on music in general, is the process of finding some new solutions,” she explains to Europavox about the forthcoming record. “The ability to go beyond habit and familiar patterns, to look at a different structure, narrative, way of thinking.”