What’s left of my music if I have it played by Classical musicians and omit the most important element, the beats?” This question was the starting point for INSTRUMENTS, the new Henrik Schwarz album.
Four years have passed now since the Berlin musician and producer was first invited to have a selection of his House tracks played by an orchestra. Now the Tokyo Secret Orchestra has recorded seven pieces arranged for chamber orchestra that are reminiscent of the minimalism of Steve Reich and Michael Nyman not least in their poetry and magnetic pull.
The last ten years have seen quite a few Classical performances of electronic club music. But many of these were in the “classic rock” tradition of the 1970’s, when symphony orchestras played the big pop hits of the day. “In most cases, electronic beats were then mixed into the orchestral arrangements, but I always found that a bit halfhearted”, says Schwarz. He wasn’t interested in so called Crossover; what interested him was what happens when club music is transferred to a body of Classical instruments. “I wanted to see whether this music still means anything when you take away all the synthetic sounds and the beats.”This prompted Henrik Schwarz to experiment with the scores, working together with arranger Johannes Brecht and various ensembles, without any computer sounds or acoustic percussion instruments that supply a rhythm in 4/4 time.
The recordings made in Japan supplied the source material for the album INSTRUMENTS. Seven pieces are rearranged here for Classical instruments, from Henrik Schwarz’s club hit “Walk Music” (which he used in the new arrangement as an opener for his live sets for a long time) through “Wamims”, the version of a 2006 remix, to the only piece on the record that is new and previously unreleased: “In Björndal”.
All the pieces have been arranged for strings (violins, violas, cellos and double bass) joined by low woodwind (bass flute, bass clarinet and bassoon) that not only supply individual timbres, but they are also a source of rhythm. In this context, the focus is on the magic and the magnetic power of minimalism, something that American composer Steve Reich used to influence the pop and techno scene with his cleverly interlocking rhythmic chains.
Right at the outset of “Walk Music”, we are offered a magical combination of single, lyrical notes from the strings and mysterious vibraphone figures in the background. And the following track, “Marvin”, literally sprouts from a single note that is constantly repeated. The piece “In Björndal” radiates a curious and seductive melancholy magic and time and time again, production techniques from electronic music such as loops or lowcuts are transformed into orchestral arrangements.
The result is a new kind of music played on Classical instruments. a music that doesn’t deny its roots in the club world and could only be created on the computer; a music that manages to transport the energy of electronic dance music to the Classical concert hall – with the bass drum only present in the listener’s head.