All compositions by Volker Böhm
Instruments Fender Rhodes, sampling, Metaz electro-acoustic performance toolbox
Recording and mix by Volker Böhm
Mastering by Lars Graugaard
Photos by Roland Rossbacher
Graphic design by Volker Böhm
There’s probably a press release somewhere, but I should probably just listen and lose myself in this. Endless Undo is a work of infinite subtlety, layered and detailed. It is, of course, the result of meticulous editing, a restive mind working and reworking, doing and endlessly undoing in order to achieve moments of microtonal bliss.
Böhm’s field is, ostensibly, the space between ambience and beat-propelled electronica: the compositions are rhythmic at heart, and while there are distinct and definite beats, they’re rarely dominant, and are often subdued, restrained or otherwise bouncing agitatedly in the background.
‘Heissenberg’ is built around bleeps and whistles, crackles drones and some swampy avant-electro percussion, and creates an enticing atmosphere without disclosing even a fraction of the range of the album as a whole.
‘Liub’ goes scratchy and glitchy against clanking electronica, explosive blasts of shuffling, processed beats and while it’s paired back and sparse on the surface, there is a lot going on: ‘Dezembur’ bumps and scrapes, bumps and scrapes its way through tremulous fear chords and dramatic yet understated piano. Glass tinkles and chimes while a single picked note hangs in the air for an eternity, swelling before a slow decay. It segues into the dense swell of ‘Klicker’, which builds to a bubbling, bassy groove which is far from ambient, bit so swampy as to be submersive.
There’s a definite arc to Endless Undo, and while it may only contain five tracks, over the course of its thirty-five-and-a-half-minute running time, Böhm may not exactly develop a sense of narrative, but does build upwards in solidity and intensity before the sparse, crystalline ‘Madeira’ turns in on itself to bring the album to a delicate yet moody close.
There’s a sense that Endless Undo is an album about potentials: the end product is simply the version the artist has settled on after a relentless tweaking and adjustment. It could have been a very different album. But then again, perhaps not, but we will never know.
“My first encounter with Bernard Parmegiani’s music, when I listened to “Étude Élastique” (from De Natura Sonorum I) many years ago, turned out to be a big revelation and ‘ear-opener’ concerning what electronic music could be. From then on I had this idealistic conception in mind of being able to hold a sound in the hands and to treat and manipulate it as if it would be a real object in space.
Another constant source of inspiration for me has always been pulse- or beat-based music, be it in the diverse sub-genres of techno music starting from the mid 90es or in contemporary jazz.
It has been an ongoing search to find ways of combining these seemingly contradicting aspects of music making in live performances. The ideal of the tangible sound object has not yet come true, but it has guided me in the development of a live-electronic ‘instrument’ and language of playing that focuses on gestural and intuitive performance of electro-acoustic sounds that enables spontaneous musical interactions with or without other musicians.
Taking these ideas, experiences, tools and instruments from the live performance context to the production studio, with its endless overdub und undo possibilities, adds a whole new spin to the mix. When the opportunity came up to produce this album for clang, it turned out to be a real challenge to bring these two worlds together and to create something that benefits from both sides.
The possibility to go over the recorded material again and again, making corrections and additions, moving stuff around, has a distinct influence on the final result and easily creates a tendency towards mannerism, but bares the potential to end up with a very refined artistic expression.”
The search for new musical expression that may satisfy performers and users’ need for innovation is tireless and unending. It is even more noticeable when carried out by artists that are knowledgable in musical composition as is the case with the Swiss Volker Böhm. He has always been an admirer of Bernard Parmegiani, and his approach to sound modes is very close to the work of the deceased French researcher. Accentuated electro-acoustic movements embedded within a silent minimalistic brew. FUTURE MEMORIES.
If you like – and can! – then relax with Volker Böhm’s ‘Endless Undo’ (clang). Massively alienated Fender Rhodes sounds and various samples in an electro-acoustic groove: no one will surely fall asleep here! 4/5
An electronic music academic from Basel, Switzerland, Volker Böhm has undertaken on this new album to combine the sound-art of Bernard Parmegiani with beat-based electronic music, and whatever his success in that particular regard, he’s created something engrossing and impressive. The beats are complex & abstract, the tonal material a mixture of repetitive basslines and discordantly beautiful synthesised harmonies, avant-garde piano & more, glitching inside a three-dimensional sonic space. It’s pretty fantastic really.