ulrich krieger, composer and saxophonist, cannot be pigeonholed into any one particular musical genre, having a passion for living in the realms in-between and ignoring boundaries. He works in a state of limbo between new and experimental music while also incorporating elements of free improvisation, electronic music, reductionism, noise, ambient, rock and metal. He writes extremely quiet and reduced music as well as creating extremely loud, harsh and threatening soundscapes.
krieger has been actively involved in pushing the boundaries of saxophone playing, and in particular the role of the saxophone in rock and noise, and has worked with luminaries such as Lou Reed (Metal Machine Trio, Lou Reed Band), Lee Ranaldo (Text of Light), Faust and Merzbow. He fronts his own death-doom-noise metal band, Blood Oath, and collaborated on projects with John Zorn and Laurie Anderson.
His new album, 236 Strings, is a compilation of instrumental ambient pieces and electro-acoustic soundscapes that invite the audience into an aural realm of self-exploration and discovery; two of the pieces are commissioned works by the pianists Vicki Ray and Danny Holt. All compositions originate from Krieger’s ‘Nordic’, ‘Desert’ and ‘Pelagic’ series and share one overriding theme: humankind in a state of confrontation with more powerful natural forces – be it the desert, the depths of the ocean or an apocalyptic event.
As a saxophonist, Ulrich Krieger long regarded the piano as historically too burdened and therefore inextricably linked with definitions of art that are way too confined. In Krieger’s own words, “the days of bourgeois art music have come to an end, just like bourgeois society itself. I want to venture into unknown territory and design new societal models”. However, at one point, he was obliged to reimagine his relationship with the piano, exploring its reverberant body in its entirety and discovering a diversity and sound potential far removed from prevailing conventions. After all, the piano is primarily a resonating body whose plus/minus 236 strings induce it to vibrate. The vastly diverse richness of sound, and the innumerable possibilities of this resonating body, lie at the heart of the five pieces for piano featured on this album.
These 236 piano strings are awoken from their state of dormancy and actively prompted to vibrate by various means and methods: these include striking the piano strings with its hammers as on a dulcimer, or plucking them like a harp, exciting them by friction with hand, wood, glass or other bow-like implements, and bowing with bow hair, a fishing line or an e-bow. Not only that, but also by preparing the strings with stationary or moveable objects.
5 pieces – 3 series
This CD comprises five compositions belonging to the composer’s Nordic, Desert Pieces and Pelagic series, but having one overriding theme: humankind in a state of confrontation with a stronger and seemingly hostile natural force—be it the desert, the depths of the ocean or an apocalyptic event. As a saxophonist, Ulrich Krieger originally had no interest in the piano, it seemed historically too burdened and at the same time too limited and inflexible in sound production and tuning. When he was commissioned with some of these works, which are now presented on this CD, he was obliged to explore this reverberant sounding body in greater depth and from a fresh perspective. He dove deep into the possibilities and diversity of the piano, exploring compositional approaches and sounds far removed from prevailing conventions.
Beyond these technical aspects, all the compositions on 236 Strings focus on the sensual experience of sound in itself, rather than being subservient to the maxims of melody or harmony. This gives rise to tangible, dense atmospheres and ambient soundworlds into which listeners can fully immerse themselves and find their own personal experiences.
236 Strings is the only CD of exclusively piano music by Ulrich Krieger. Personally, he played saxophone on this album and performed with the pianists Vicki Ray and Danny Holt on the multiplayer inside-piano piece Euphotic. The pianists Vicki Ray and Danny Holt are performing all compositions on this album.
1. Floryan nachdenklich (Jlin Remix)
2. Sleeping Together - Stepha Schweiger: vocals, rhythm guitar, piano - Franz Bargmann: solo guitar
3. When I was a Bird (Maxi Version) by Pyrolator
Music by Stepha Schweiger
Produced and Arranged by Pyrolator
Words by Katherine Mansfield
Following the successful release of the album “When I was a Bird” by Stepha Schweiger in 2020, L’ST Records is about to release a maxi-single with three of the artist’s new productions on March 26, 2021.
The remix of the song “Floryan nachdenklich”, for which a video is to be released simultaneously, was created by none other than Jlin.
Titled “Sleeping Together”, the next track is a product of the lockdown. Nostalgically recalling the simple act of sleeping side-by-side in times gone by, this song was once again inspired by the writings of the British-New Zealand author Katherine Mansfield.
The icing on the cake of this maxi-single comes in the form of an extended disco version of the title track “When I was a Bird”. Created by the album’s producer Pyrolator, it’s backed by a clubbeat and is ideally suitable for dancing within your own four walls or in the great outdoors.
The new single with three fantastic tracks inspired by Stepha Schweiger’s 2020 album “When I was a Bird” will be digitally released at the end of March 2021.
It kicks off with the Jlin remix of the album track “Floryan nachdenklich” for which there is also a terrific video produced by the Berlin-based Pfadfinderei studio.
Jlin meticulously rearranged snippets of the song about Katherine Mansfield’s Polish lover, assembling them with several layers of a noisy barrage of drums. As if in a hypnotic state, “Floryan” is seated in front of the fire and has hallucinatory imaginings about a tree that ultimately wanders about the room. In her remix, Jlin particularly highlights the outside world, the “black outside” with the “rising tide of wind and rain”, as well as the seemingly “blue and brown and white and red” blossoms of the tree. These colours metaphorically represent an open mindset and inner peace, a philosophy that is wonderfully depicted in the accompanying video.
The second track, “Sleeping Together”, is a brand-new song. It revolves around the recollection of sleeping side-by-side in a room, in a bed, in New Zealand, in the days of old. Yet again, Stepha Schweiger found the impetus for this song in a text by Katherine Mansfield. “Sleeping Together” owes its origin to a trip undertaken in a euphoric state of mind during the 2020 lockdown where the imagination of the singer/songwriter/pianist and composer ran wild. Composed on acoustic guitar, it was recorded back in Berlin and was arranged and produced by Pyrolator. Franz Bargmann (Michael Rother) returns as a solo guitarist on this track.
And last but not least comes the eagerly anticipated maxi-version of the title track “When I was a Bird”. Pyrolator’s club remix is destined to have fans dancing their way through the spring, summer and well beyond. This maxi remix eclipses the already highly acclaimed title track of the album and promises to be the spark that ignites many hot nights of dancing.
the new album from the berlin-based composer, pianist and singer stepha schweiger offers a fascinating and wonderfully spherical mix of 80s pop, electronics, avant-garde, chamber music and psychedelia. produced and arranged by kurt dahlke aka pyrolator (daf, fehlfarben, der plan). “when i was a bird” will be available as a cd in digipack format and as a limited, coloured vinyl edition. both stepha schweiger and pyrolator reinvented themselves to emerge with a whole new sound. exhilarating and poppy, dreamlike and calm – with a hint of “psychedelic” – irresistible beats and synthesizer sounds are woven into the music. stepha schweiger’s inimitably haunting voice, coupled with the words of the new zealand-british writer katherine mansfield, permeates the natural ebb and flow of every chord, lending the album a celestial sense of lightness. stepha schweiger gives vent to emotions and her style is steeped in authenticity, resulting in a spherically crafted album of indie-pop ballads in which every track evolves and culminates in a unique, but always surprising, trajectory. stepha schweiger flavours her captivating creations with electronic and avantgarde elements. now on her 6th album, “when i was a bird”, stepha schweiger has for the second time taken the lyrics of katherine mansfield as her inspiration. the first album in this cycle, “now i'm a plant”, was produced by hanno leichtmann and released on cd in 2019. katherine mansfield’s writings focus on timeless, enduring topics and universal emotions: brimming with the deep inhalation of nature, the longing for a lost homeland and other aspects of today’s world, her words are not only thoughtful and sensitive but whirling and colourful like a kaleidoscope. with his arrangements of club beats, 80s pop and even orchestral music, pyrolator has forged a magical spectrum of sounds that seamlessly blend into the songs. this combination brings to the fore the innate vulnerability that dwells deep within stepha schweiger's voice, making it all the more enthralling. the structures he created are not only reminiscent of visionary film scores, but also awaken fantasies of stirring technobeat pop with the power to catapult listeners to faraway worlds. featuring franz bargmann guitar (michael rother plays neu!) & penelope gkigka violin. front cover photo by marzena skubatz.
“sea crazy song”, the first digital single to be released from stepha schweiger’s new album “when i was a bird”, is an homage to the sea with an eye to the future. in the poem “sea song” by katherine mansfield, the protagonist makes a conscious decision to think no more of the sea. in her mind’s eye, she sees the memory, fully laden in human guise, wandering between the never-ending to and fro of the sea, constantly searching with a “crazy song” on her lips. then the memory merges with the whisper of ghostly waves on the shore. but the sea becomes ever louder and ultimately drowns out all other sounds... lasting all of six minutes, “sea crazy song” is punctuated by the rhythms of crashing waves and ambient seaside sounds, all of which coalesce with the captivating voice of stepha schweiger to conjure up a moment of sweet melancholy in the here and now. the video for “sea crazy song” was produced by pyrolator and offers a visual feast of mellowly merging images.