Stephen Fruitman review Collected Recordings over at sonomu.net
An armful of songs and a handful of instrumentals recorded at home. Glaswegian Gareth Dickson has spent the last few years touring as Vashti Bunyan´s guitarist, has contributed to works by Juana Molina and Max Richter, and is slowly but surely gaining a reputation as an artist of consequence, talent and intergrity.
This is his debut commercial release. He´s not much of a vocalist and wisely whispers his lyrics while letting his idiosyncratic work on the steel strings of his acoustic guitar come to the fore, tastefully applying a little delay or reverb, even a little distortion on the closing track, ”Like a Clock”. The sparse atmosphere allows for full enjoyment of a refined finger-picking technique, and his melodic sensibility, ranging from outright ambient on the mood-setting opener ”Fifth (The Impossibility of Death”) to the airy, free flow of ideas on “Trip in a Blanik”, defies lazy categorization as another in the line of great British folk guitarists, though there is a folk soul at the heart of this music.
His understated vocal delivery makes it almost impossible to discern the content of his lyrics, and a lyrics sheet would be nice, because I am certain he is saying something worth hearing – some slight despair tempered with cautious optimism. Not for nothing that the first words he utters are, ”Listen up close…” A few moments later, he shrugs, ”If I get in your way, just let it be.” Thus rather than getting hung up on the content of each song, embrace the spirit. With very small means (in his liner notes, he thanks the people who have given him the material to make this), he conjures up a warm and intimate, relaxed and yet sincere, even severe, atmosphere.
– Stephen Fruitman
Robin Babb of Space City Rock shares her thoughts on regen:tropfen by zazie von einem anderen stern.
The first time I heard a John Cage piece, I was floored. Being in a pretty steady post-punk revival phase at the time (give me a break, I was fifteen), the idea of music that was non-melodic was totally foreign to me. Yet when I was confronted with this totally avant-garde and dissonant piece, “Sonata II for Prepared Piano,” it made me sit up and take notice.
I got a similar feeling from listening to zazie von einem anderen stern, (in English: “zazie from another star”), who definitely takes some cues from the late Mr. Cage. Born and raised in Heidelberg, Germany, Maike Zazie Matern has the classical piano training to make her a skilled musician and the creativity to do something original with it. She composes experimental neo-classical piano pieces and combines them with white noise, field recordings, and improvised instrumental bits to swathe the listener in complete environments of sound. Simultaneously ambient and earthy, Matern’s music defies catagorization.
In 2006 she started her solo project, zazie von einem anderen stern, and began work on her debut album regen:tropfen (in English: “rain:drops”) in 2008, composing and recording in Berlin and Uppsala, Sweden. Citing influences as varied as Miles Davis, Tori Amos, and Björk, Matern tried to combine what she had learned from pop and jazz with the gentle sounds of her home and family. The resulting album is a masterpiece. Although every song stands alone as a work of art, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Glittering with a bright, childlike quality throughout, the feeling of the album drifts naturally from melancholy to blissful peace. “intro” and “morgen” start things off slowly before going into “raum ohne zeit,” which is easily the heaviest track on the album, filled with the sounds of rolling thunder and distressed voices speaking quietly in German and Swedish. The calm after the storm is “regentropfen,” which features Matern’s own gentle singing and a delicately tinkling glockenspiel. My favorite song, though, is “im juli,” which portrays Matern at her most inventive. In it, the endearing sounds of tambourines and bells accompany the simple piano line that positively glows with warmth.
Hearing an album as original as regen:tropfen helps to remind one that there are still unexplored regions of music to be pioneered. Matern is just the kind of girl we want at the head of that expedition, too — with this full-length and her multi-instrumental sound poem an open field, she definitely has ideas about the lines that separate music, poetry, voice theatre, and other sound arts that I don’t even have the vocabulary for. If we’re lucky, she’ll continue to create genre- and discipline-defying work to challenge and entertain her listeners.
– Robin Babb (Space City Rock)
A preview of the Islet EP from Pawn.
45. Zazie Von Einem Anderen Stern – Regen:Tropfen
..if you’re into Neo Classical music (VERY gorgeous stuff here)
When the Clouds is part of a lovely new compilation from Lost Children Net Label and The Silent Ballet.
zazie von einem anderen stern is highlighted in an article titled “Tape auf Touren: Vol. 19 – 2010” over at AufTouren:
Zazie Von Einem Anderen Stern – Regentropfen
Plitsch. Platsch. Knister. Moderne Klassik kommbiniert mit kleinen elektronischen Kabinettstückchen und einer verhuschten Frauenstimme, die den tröpfelnden Regen willkommen heißt: Maike Zazie Matern ist auf der Suche nach der inneren Glückseligkeit. (Carl Ackfeld)
auto-translated excerpt below:
Zazie Von Einem Anderen Stern – Regentropfen
Splish. Platsch. Splash. Knister. Crackle. Moderne Klassik kommbiniert mit kleinen elektronischen Kabinettstückchen und einer verhuschten Frauenstimme, die den tröpfelnden Regen willkommen heißt: Maike Zazie Matern ist auf der Suche nach der inneren Glückseligkeit. Modern Classical kommbiniert with small electronic showpiece and a timid woman’s voice, the dripping rain is welcome: Maike Zazie Matern is on the quest for inner happiness. (Carl Ackfeld)
Die Reise geht nach innen. Die Bahnhöfe an der beschaulichen Strecke tragen unaufregende, grundsolide Namen wie Ehrlichkeit, Echtheit oder Innerlichkeit. Nachdem sich die letzte Generation medial intensiv begutachteter Berliner Musikerinnen wie Peaches oder auch, nicht ganz so prominent, Angie Reed mit provokanten Posen, schrillen Geschlechter-Inszenierungen und krachenden Sounds rund um die Jahrtausendwende massig Aufmerksamkeit erspielen konnte, ist es um die nachrückenden Frauen leiser geworden.
Und das in zweierlei Hinsicht: Kein von Getöse begleiteter Hype zeichnet sich um die neuen Berliner Songwriterinnen wie Kat Frankie, Kitty Solaris, Milenasong, Susie Asado, Zazie von einem anderen Stern und all die anderen, die liebevoll ihre Gitarren zupfen, am Horizont ab. Was durchaus ein gutes Zeichen ist, weil es bedeutet, dass Frauen im Musikgeschäft mittlerweile weniger eine Anomalie denn eine Normalität darstellen.