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Tiefe Berge by Emil Klotzsch (Review)

Klotzsch’s drifting soundscapes conjure up images of a windswept, rain-battered terrain.

Tiefe Berge is sound designer Emil Klotzsch’s attempt to sonically document his experiences of traveling through the Scottish highlands. And for the most part, it’s quite successful. Klotzsch’s drifting soundscapes conjure up images of a windswept, rain-battered terrain — a place that is wild, expansive, and foreboding. And yet, at the same time, strangely beautiful in its ruggedness and isolation.

Eschewing melody or any semblance of song structure, Klotzsch allows these pieces to unfold and drift about in an organic manner, with electronics, feedback, and drones blending with the field recordings (e.g., storms, wind, running water, birds) that make up the album’s core. The only sense of motion comes from the soft ebbs and flows that occasionally unsettle the listener. Occasionally they threaten to spill forth from the speakers, as if to engulf the listener like one of the dark Highland lakes that Klotzsch describes in the album’s liner notes.

sctl12” is especially powerful and evocative, reminiscent of Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson’s masterful work on the Children of Nature soundtrack. Spectral voices drift about, as if Klotzsch’s recording equipment has somehow picked up the ghostly wails of those lost on the Highlands rocky terrain, or somewhere in the deep, dark lakes. Occasional bursts of static interrupt the eerie choir, and obvious sounds of technology breaking down only serves to make the spectral sounds somehow more concrete.

The latter half of the album becomes a little scattered and random, relying more heavily on skeletal, glitchy rhythms than the somber, alien atmospherics. But the opening tracks are absolutely spellbinding in their majesty, in the way they conjure up a remote locale untouched by time or human hands.

Read more about Autoplate, Emil Klotzsch, and Tiefe Berge.

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