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Each of these sixteen albums is conceptually, thematically or musically connected to a sense of  a particular place or moments in time. While this is a somewhat common motif in instrumental music (ambient in particular), it is absolutely integral in these outstanding works released in 2019. Some are personal narratives and some are depictions of landscape either real or imagined. Others are sonic interrogations or interactions inextricably linked to the locations where they were formed. Whatever their nature, all of them proved captivating and memorable. One might say they represent the very essence of stationary traveling…

Ai Yamamoto – Going Home [Dragon’s Eye Recordings]

Originally from Shizumi, Kashiba City in Japan’s Nara Prefecture, Ai Yamamoto is a composer & sound artist who has been making music in Melbourne, Australia since the early 00s including work with such artists as Lawrence English and Ben Frost. Her debut on LA based Dragon’s Eye Recordings is a welcoming sonic journey back to the quiet spaces, forests, and rice fields of her hometown presented in a multi-facted three-part long form track that is both warmly inviting and subtly immersive.

Released on digital only


Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and Thomas Bartlett [Real World]

While many of the albums featured here evoke sense of place through textural and atmospheric cues, this delightful excursion by Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh with his 10-string hardanger d’amore fiddle and pianist/producer Thomas Bartlett aka Doveman does it with pure musical expression as they embark on a free-spirited peregrination drawing inspiration from the locations in which they recorded, the pioneering photography of Saul Leiter, and a plethora of musical & literary sources ranging from Keith Jarrett and Van Morrison to WG Sebald, Roald Dahl and Antoine deSaint-Exupéry.  A life-affirming record and dazzling display of improvisational musicianship.

Released on 2x vinyl LP, CD, & digital


Ceeys – Hiddensee [Neue Meister]

The final chapter in their triptych centered around growing up in East Germany and living through the dramatic political & cultural changes culminating in reunification with the West, brothers Sebastian & Daniel Selke take us to Hiddensee, a small but picturesque holiday island in the Baltic Sea that attracted some of the most famous artists & intellectuals of the early 20th century while also serving as a popular family vacation spot as well as a haven for dissidents throughout the GDR era. Using vintage equipment and a “cubist” style which intertwines playful experimentation with traditional classical motifs, the album illuminates a fascinating period of personal, political, and cultural history.

Released on vinyl LP, CD, & digital


Celer – Xièxie [Two Acorns]

“A week before leaving, I bought a dictionary and phrasebook…”

Will Long’s preternatural ability to capture scenes and emotions in a kind of musical amber and then turn it into a story comes to the fore again on Xièxie, in which he takes us on an excursion from Shanghai to Hangzou on China’s high-speed rail line. Like a cinematographer who slows fast-moving action on celluloid for dramatic effect, Long creates a mesmerizing soporific reverie punctuated by scene-setting cues like the bustle of a busy station or the whir of a speeding train. To deepen the immersion, he narrates the journey in the liner notes with all the eloquence of a novelist. Pico Iyer once said “We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves”. By the time this album drifts to its conclusion, I felt as I had done a little of both

Released on vinyl LP, CD, cassette & digital


El Conejo – Tempestede Tropicale [La Petite Chambre Records]

“I remember playing my grandfather’s old guitar, tuneless, and the haunting sound that it made…”

Nostalgia is at the heart of the music Bruno Nunes Coelho (Ana, Constantina) makes under as El Conejo, a project inspired by the first chords he played on his grandfather’s old guitar and the memories of the places he has lived. ‘Tempestade Tropical‘ focuses in particular on a short time spent living in the city of Rio de Janeiro and the loss of his father during that period. Like his leporine avatar, he is ever the keen observer attuned to the flora & fauna that surrounds him. While many of us might associate Rio with the spectacle of its dramatic vistas, sprawling diversity, and colorful festivals, Coelho, turns inward to gently explore the immutable cycles of life universal to all places as well as his own memories and losses.

Released on cassette & digital


Erland Cooper – Sule Skerry [Phases Records]

Erland Cooper and his talented supporting cast return in 2019 to continue the story with another transportive musical portrait of one of the planet’s most enchanting places. Entitled Sule Skerry, the new album shifts perspective from the sky above the Scottish archipelago and its avian fauna to the sea below and the people whose lives & stories are inextricably linked to it. Whereas last year’s Solan Goose was breathtaking in its panoramic sweep, Sule Skerry charms equally but tacks in a more episodic fashion with more lyrical content in both the songs themselves and in the interviews with the locals woven into the compositions. The music remains decidedly cinematic and subtly imbued with greater dynamism as Cooper is now painting a portrait of a mighty sea teeming with life, steeped in mystery, and capable of fearsome power.

Released on CD & digital


Glåsbird – Glåsbird [Whitelabrecs]

The first full-length album from the anonymous Glåsbird majestically explores the the sprawling ice-capped island country of Greenland. As if commissioned to score a documentary soundtrack and informed by hours of immersive research, the artist turns violin, cello, guitar, and filigreed tape effects to form a musical lens through which we can take in the sweep of a wondrously imagined geography. You can easily envision the icy shimmer and glinting light of its stark landscape and the feel the profound sense of isolation and tranquility. 

Released on CD & digital


Josh Mason – Coquina Dose [Florabelle]

Coquina Dose is the book on your nightstand under a lamp with a 40 watt bulb. It’s driving alone at night up and down the strip looking for a pool to crash. It’s the endless lights of luxury, hotels, oceanfront dining. It’s dogs barking, the wind off the water, dead friends, and sunsets that are no longer free. Everything humming, everything buzzing. It’s a new day, in the same circuit. Short interesting rides, followed by a loss of momentum. Notes of grass, lychee, pineapple, burnt sugar.”

A collage of warm guitar lines, sonic ephemera, and wistful melodies that evokes the hazy torpor of Florida summers past through a nostalgic lens, a motif Josh Mason has beautifully staked out as all his own. You can practically feel the mugginess in the air and the ennui that settles in during the long, humid days. Like a lean, but well-written novella, it’s gift for eloquent understatement beckons you back over & over to pick up on new details, gain a different perspective, or simply to enjoy the comforts of its growing familiarity.

Released on vinyl LP & digital (a few limited test press editions may still be available)


Kinbrae – Landforms [Truant Recordings]

As Kinbrae, twin brothers Andrew & Michael Truscott mix brass, acoustic guitar, percussion and musique concrète to paint a panoramic portrait of Scotland’s longest river, the mighty Tay, while reflecting on the impact of growing up along its banks. The album unfurls like a cinematic travelogue that takes in the river from its origins on the slopes of Ben Lui in the west to its eastern tidal reaches near Perth as it approaches the North Sea. It is a meandering 120 mile journey through a vast catchment presided over by iconic bridges, sprawling countryside, and bustling towns. To help create an expansive sound worthy of the album’s central protagonist, the Truscotts collaborated with Ben Chatwin (aka Talvihorros) who provided additional instrumentation as well access to his Edinburgh studio where they were able to experiment with adding modular synthesizers and effects into the mix.

Released on vinyl LP & digital


M. Grig – Mount Carmel [12k]

A composer & multi-instrumentalist originally from the Pacific Northwest, who now lives in Durham, North Carolina, Michael Grigoni aka M. Grig specializes in dobro, lap steel guitar, and pedal steel guitar. Having produced several EPs and done a fair amount of film & session work, Mount Carmel is his first full length album as well as his debut on the venerable 12k label. Using an approach that derives from his introduction to ethnography while studying at the University of Washington, Grigoni creates an impressionistic memoir of time spent exploring the hills of Los Peñasquitos near San Diego, California while growing up. Rather than attempt to recreate this environment sonically, he evokes a halcyon state of mind through fine-grained textures and warm acoustics to sublimate the contours of landscape and memory into something universal and timeless.

Released on CD & digital.


Michael A. Muller – Lower River [Beacon Sound / 1631 Recordings]

Co-founder of Austin-based ensemble Balmorhea, Michael A. Muller makes his full-length debut as a solo artist with Lower River, an album which began as a sound experiment in 2018 that spans from the Oregon coastline all the way to rural southern Italy and the remote fishing villages of southern France. It is an engrossing musical travelogue that is both abstractly referential and deeply introspective, a self-described exploration of “place where time, space, and self are occluded”. The music has a distinctly filmic quality, at times, acting like a sort of camera panning slowly across landscapes frozen in the amber of memory.  While Lower River may have been inspired by very specific scenes and locations, Muller has molded his impressions of those places into rewarding inward journeys unbound by the specificity of place or time.

Released on vinyl LP & digital.


OHIO – Upward, Broken, Always [12k]

One of the highlights of a truly resurgent year for 12k, not to mention the musical year overall, is this stunning collaboration by label found Taylor Deupree and composer/musician/multimedia artist Corey Fuller.  The name of the project is dual reference to the US state where both artists were born as well as the first song they developed for it, a cover of the Damien Jurado indie classic. There is a special aura to this record, the kind of which is ultimately hard to put into words, but which can be keenly felt in the listening. Blossoms of cathartic intensity provide the most breathtaking moments while the more delicate sections are equally powerful, albeit in a different way.  Also not to be missed is the companion album Interludes in which Deupree & Fuller offer up three gorgeous long-form ambient ghost trails of the original pieces.

Released on vinyl LP & digital.


Rafael Anton Irisarri – Solastalgia [Room40]

“The homesickness you have when you are still at home.” That is how Australian environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht pithily explains the meaning of solastalgia, a word he coined as a way of conveying the “feeling of chronic distress caused by negatively perceived changes to a home and its landscape”.  A suite in six movements, Rafael Anton Irisarri‘s musical interpretation of this concept is a potent sonic brew on a colossal scale that puts us in the eye of the hurricane, so to speak, wide-eyed and self-aware even as we are surrounded by forces with a power we can scarcely comprehend. It is an impressive musical distillation of being awe-struck, angry, sad, and helpless all at once and a masterful fusion of composition, artistic expression, and sound design that will leave you pondering its impact long after the storm clouds have dissipated.

Released on vinyl LP, cassette, & digital.


Richard Skelton  – Border Ballads [Aeolian / Corbel Stone Press]

9]
https://aeolian.bandcamp.com/album/border-ballads

Having recorded over 30 albums & EPs as well as creating music for exhibitions, performance, feature films and documentaries, Richard Skelton offers up one of the most lyrical recordings in his canon with this collection of songs inspired by the well-watered border country where Scotland and England meet. It is an evocative place and that makes fertile territory for Skelton’s vivid sonic explorations while favoring concise melodic structures over the sprawling, glacial soundscapes that feature in much of his recent work. Only someone who has inhabited the place he is portraying – walked in it, lived in it, felt its undersong, and pondered its history – could produce something that resonates so deeply.

Released on CD, & digital.


Tim Linghaus – We Were Young When You Left Home [Schole Records]

“In a nutshell, “We Were Young When You Left Home” is about kids and their struggle with divorce, separation, loss and finding a place in this world. I believe we cannot help it. We are bound to cope with the repercussions of our parents’ decisions forever”. – Tim Linghaus

Born in the GDR in the early 1980s, musician Tim Linghaus has spent the past few years releasing understated but beautifully crafted albums exploring themes of childhood and memory. We Were Young When You Left Home continues in this vein while displaying a sophisticated level of song craft only hinted at in more ambient leaning albums like  Vhoir (2016, Moderna Records), Memory Sketches (2018, 1631 Recordings), and About B. (2019, Sound in Silence). Having developed a fondness for the style of those records, it took a little acclimating to get used to the more prominent vocals and strong indie pop undercurrent, but on each listen the appreciation grew more & more for the sheer beauty, musical dexterity, and raw emotional honesty of what Linghaus created.

Released on vinyl LP & digital.


Vargkvint – Hav [Piano and Coffee Records]

Sofia Nystrand named her solo music project Vargkvint after a dissonant musical interval known as the “wolf fifth”, an apt metaphor for her enigmatic sound which offers sweet enchantment permeated with an aura of ancient & primal forces. On Hav, Nystrand weaves a spellbinding tale of the sea that embraces all of “its beauty and its menace, its life-giving and its life-taking”. Sounds of lapping surf, howling winds, and creaking masts vividly evoke a maritime setting while the music itself has the very ebb and flow of the tide and the salt air on its skin. Such an epic tale needs narrators and these come in the form of folk instruments like the harmonium, zither, and saw, a male choir, and of course Nystrand’s own own arresting voice.  A unique and captivating journey.

Released on vinyl LP & digital.

12 albums from 2019 that have made me feel something, in no specific order:
Listen

Rafael Anton Irisarri – Solastalgia
https://room40.bandcamp.com/album/solastalgia

SANDY Alex G – House of Sugar
https://sandy.bandcamp.com/album/house-of-sugar

hania rani – Esja
https://haniarani.bandcamp.com/album/esja

Girl Band – The Talkies
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RZrAwszmfY

Trio Ramberget – Musik Att Somna Till
https://trioramberget.bandcamp.com/alb…/musik-att-somna-till

– Kajsa Lindgren – Everyone Is Here
https://kajsalindgren.bandcamp.com/album/everyone-is-here

Ed Carlsen – Morning Hour
https://modernarecords.bandcamp.com/album/morning-hour

CEEYS – Hiddensee
https://ceeys.bandcamp.com/album/hiddensee

Still Moving – Still Moving EP
https://thesoundisstillmoving.bandcamp.com/…/still-moving-ep

Aldous Harding – Designer
https://aldousharding.bandcamp.com/album/designer

– The Humble Bee & Offthesky – All Other Voices Gone, Only Yours Remains
https://iikki.bandcamp.com/…/all-other-voices-gone-only-you…

Thee Oh Sees – Face Stabber
https://ohsees.bandcamp.com/album/face-stabber7 track albumroom40.bandcamp.comSolastalgia, by Rafael Anton Irisarri7 track album7 track album

delighted to announce this video of our live performance for 23 Milhas – Ílhavo , RT Portugal
X so much to Pinuts Music Agency
Luis Bandeira and Susana Andrade
(presented in portuguese official media)

Ficha Técnica:
Título Original
CEEYS – Waende ao Vivo no Centro Cultura de Ílhavo
Realização
Igor Martins (RTP Porto)
Produção
Isabel Roma (RTP Porto)
Ano
2019

Concerto do duo Ceeys inteiramente dedicado aos 30 anos da queda do muro de Berlim

Concerto musical do duo Ceeys, constituído pelos irmãos Sebastian e Daniel Selke, onde apresentam o último álbum intitulado Waende, editado em maio de 2018, inteiramente dedicado aos 30 anos da queda do muro de Berlim, que aconteceu a 9 de novembro de 1989.

Nascidos ainda na República Democrática Alemã, os irmãos Daniel e Sebastian Selke formam os Ceeys. O duo utiliza a sua compreensão do mundo clássico, no qual são formados academicamente, com a procura/pesquisa de novos sons ambientais, rebuscando material eletrónico que encontram já em desuso ou até mesmo danificado. Dessa mesma junção de mundos tão diferentes, nasce a música dos Ceeys: melancólica, lenta, espaçosa, orgânica e sentimental.
O duo apresenta o seu mais recente álbum Waende, baseado nas vivências dos dois músicos na ex-RDA assim como da liberdade e alterações ao seu modo de vida que aconteceram com a queda do muro de Berlim. Este é um concerto, mas torna-se rapidamente numa aula de história contemporânea. Que não passa à história.

Sebastian Selke – Violoncelo e Eletrónica
Daniel Selke – Piano e Eletrónica

Gravado no Laboratório de Artes Teatro Vista Alegre, em Ílhavo, 8 de setembro de 2019

Nächstes Jahr gibt es das zweite Pianeo – Festival für Neoklassik und wir freuen uns, dass wir Euch so viele wunderbare Künstler*innen an so tollen Orten präsentieren dürfen! Wie beim letzten Mal haben wir wieder EARLY BIRD Aktionen eingerichtet und vielleicht ist das ja auch eine gute Geschenkidee – Soll angeblich ganz schön werden!
(hint-hint-hint ;-))

Hier geht’s zu den online-Tickets:
https://www.love-your-artist.de/de/pianeo/

31.01. Martin Kohlstedt auf Burg Vischering
01.02. Sebastian Plano + Tom Adams im LWL-Museum für Naturkunde mit Planetarium
05.02. Lubomyr Melnyk im LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur (gemeinsam mit der Ton/\rt-Reihe vom Gleis 22)
08.02. Bersarin Quartett + CEEYS in der Kulturhalle Kraftwerk Gemeinde Schöppingen
09.02. hania rani + Henrik Lindstrand im Kloster Bentlage Rheine
14.02. Gyda Valtysdottir, Kjartan Sveinsson & friends im Konzertsaal Friedenskapelle
15.02. Marina Baranova + Philipp Rumsch Ensemble im Kulturgut Literaturmuseum Haus Nottbeck
22.02. A Winged Victory For The Sullen + Daniel Wohl in der Petrikirche

Ceeys
Hiddensee
Neue Meister

Das Cello-Piano-Duo Ceeys, bestehend
aus den in Berlin geborenen
Brüdern Sebastian und Daniel Selke,
begab sich nach seinem Album
,,Wende” mit ,,Hiddensee” erneut
auf die Suche nach verlorenen Zeiten
und gemeinsamen Erfahrungen.
lhr Credo: ,,lm Grunde geht es um
die Sehnsucht nach dem bescheide-
78 Jazz Podium 12-1911-20
nen Eldorado unserer Kindheit”. Ein
musikalischer Dialog also zwischen
zwei Brüdern. die sich emotional
und empathisch mit der Diskrepanz
zwischen Freiheit und Sehnsucht
nach Vertrautem auseinandersetzen,
oder gar ein 0st-West-Dialog?
Auf ,,Wende” wurde der Sehnsuchtsort
als,,Zanzibar” definiert.
Beim Hören des neuen Albums stellen
sich andere Erinnerungen und
Sehnsüchte ein. Hiddensee war in
DDR-Zeiten ein Sehnsuchtsort in
einer überschaubaren Welt. eine
kleine Insel am nördlichen Ende des
Gewächshauses. Künstler und Politiker,
aber auch Tramper verbrachten
hier ihren Urlaub – bei gutem
Jazz, zumindest im Sommer. lm September
1958 zeterte Alfred Kogel,
Leiter der Abteilung Kultur beim Rat
der Stadt Görlitz, über ,,Kultur und
Unkultur in Ostseebädern” und
meinte damit konkret einen Auftritt
des Orchesters Eberhard Weise. das
den in der DDR quasi verbotenen
.,March from the River Kwai” mit
dem Klang der 0stseewellen kombinierte,
und drohte mit Ordnungsstrafen
bis zu fünfhundert Mark im
Wiederholungsfall. Auf dem Album
wird ,,Solo Sunny” zu ,,Solar
Sunny”,,,Trabanten ” verweist wohl
auf den dominanten Autotyp des
verschwundenen Landes. Aber die
Musik des Duos ist keine Musik vordergründiger
Assoziationen, sondern
überlässt die Deutunoshoheit
dem Hörer. Rainer Bratfisch

C E E Y S
KOSMOSKONZERTE #26
Theo Alexander (UK), Hoshiko Yamane (JP) & CEEYS (DE)
Jan 6, 2020
Rechenzentrum Potsdam

KOSMOSKONZERTE is an open-minded house concert series.
While organized by musicians from Potsdam’s local scene, selected editions are carefully curated by brothers Sebastian and Daniel Selke, also known as award-winning cello-piano duo CEEYS, founders of Q3Ambientfest. Presented by Rechenzentrum Potsdam.

Space is limited.
5-15€ suggested donation.

:::::: Theo Alexander ::::::

Theo Alexander is a composer and pianist from London, UK whose work melds the melodic sensibilities of contemporaries like Peter Broderick and Nico Muhly with the rich textures of Grouper and William Basinski. Theo utilises a cassette four-track to create intricate loops that are manipulated alongside the piano, an approach that channels 20th century minimalism and contemporary drone music at the same time. Having played in noise and doom metal bands in the early 2000s, Theo began composing seriously in 2015 and self-released five albums over three years that ranged from piano improvisations, to tape loop experiments, string ensembles and haunting minimalist compositions. 

http://theo-alexander.com
https://www.facebook.com/theoalexandersound/
https://soundcloud.com/theoalexander/hammer-frenzy-1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amBwiWIwjCI

:::::: Hoshiko Yamane ::::::

Hoshiko Yamane is a classically trained violinist and a member of the legendary band Tangerine Dream.
She’s also an accomplished composer, and whether releasing and playing under her own name or as Tukico, her unique sound features looped strings together with Moog synths and effects.
Under Hoshiko Yamane would released some solo Albums from Swedish Label 1631 Recordings and She is working with Decca Publishing for Film music.
She is collaborating with many musicians and dancers,which are like contemporary dance performances.

:::::: CEEYS ::::::

The work of Sebastian and Daniel“an extraordinary piece of music” according to BBC’s Mary Anne Hobbs – is marked by contrasts as well the idea of crossing musical barriers: in search of a shared language, their project CEEYS was born in East-Berlin.

Following their REWORKS of artists such as Peter Broderick, they released their debut THE GRUNEWALD CHURCH SESSION (2016). While CONCRETE FIELDS (2017) paid tribute to their musical roots, WÆNDE (2018) came to terms with the fall of the Berlin Wall. The EP Q3A (2019) saw their first solo work, their latest album HIDDENSEE (2019) is a sort of 1990s travel log. All releases are part of a back-to-back anthology.

CEEYS are represented by the labels 1631 Recordings, Oscarson and Neue Meister. CONCRETE FIELDS and WÆNDE are also available on both vinyl and CD while CONCRETE FIELDS is distributed digitally worldwide through Decca Publishing and Deutsche Grammophon. WÆNDE and HIDDENSEE are published by Kick the Flame Publishing in Leipzig. In 2017, they started their WÆNDE tour through Europe and played festivals such as Fusion or Reeperbahn.

The brothers studied classical music at academies in Berlin and Leipzig. Both have been featured on numerous releases. Sebastian has collaborated with Ólafur Arnalds and Viktor Orri Árnason on a virtual instrument for Spitfire Audio, he is part of Erased Tapes’ I+I=X and Masayoshi Fujita’s BOOK OF LIFE with whom he only recently toured Germany.
In 2017, they founded their boutique festival Q3AMBIENTFEST, where artists come together to create a bond between music and Potsdam’s architecture. With their music, CEEYS not only reveal a dialogue between artist and instrument but also revive experimental approaches from the GDR – but always with a light tone of humour.

New music and projects are set for release in 2020.
www.ceeys.de
www.q3ambientfest.com
www.facebook.com/CEEYSMusic
www.youtube.com/user/CEEYSMusic

X a lot Aukai / Markus Sieber for sharing your NIGHT FLIGHT playlist 🙂

“My ‘Night Flight’ playlist is frequently updated in a sporadic manner. There are many new wonderful pieces to discover by Anne Müller György Ligeti Sebastian Plano Maarja Nuut Thom Yorke Harold Budd Penguin Cafe Lisa Morgenstern Valgeir Sigurðsson Daniel Pioro Benjamin Gustafsson CEEYS The Album Leaf and so many more…

Enjoy your long winter nights.”

Listen

Vermona instead of Yamaha CEEYS about electronic music and almost forgotten instruments in the GDR

5.12.2019 • Sounds – Text: Ji-Hun Kim

CEEYS start alt

Daniel and Sebastian Selke aka CEEYS | Photo: Roman Koblov

When you travel from Berlin to Potsdam, you are always amazed at how close the Brandenburg capital actually is – and how rarely you go there. As long as you don’t want to study there, work there or show your visit to Berlin Potsdam’s palaces or Wolfgang Joop’s villa. It is said that the fashion tsar has now moved elsewhere.

Either way, the Potsdam-Berlin route is busy. The regional express full of packs. Commuters, students, travelers squeeze into the double-decker and when you get off at Potsdam Central Station, several flyer-distributors intercept you, who want to turn on tourist tours with powdered wigs and other nepp. After all, the city is regarded as a kind of Disney Land for fans of cakes instead of bread, minuets and other classicist kitsch that could somehow be associated with Frederick the Great. One can imagine that Potsdam has a difficult cultural situation compared to Berlin. The catchment area of the German capital’s internationally hyped cultural scene is too large and powerful. So many RBB and film studios on the Havel can be kept upright. But Potsdam is also the city of the West German patrons of the pretty, pretty things Hasso Plattner and Günther Jauch. Nowhere else in the east is there more Starnberger See.

The brothers Sebastian and Daniel Selke were born in East Berlin in the early eighties, grew up and have lived in Potsdam for a long time. Both are active in the Potsdam music scene. Sebastian is a cellist with the Filmorchester Babelsberg. Daniel teaches piano and conducts various choirs. In addition, they organize festivals such as the Q3 Ambientfest, run their Klingenthal studio, which focuses on synthesizers and microphones from the GDR and other Eastern Bloc countries, and with their own project CEEYS have become an internationally recognized imprint when it comes to contemporary instrumental classics. I meet Sebastian at the train station. Some time ago he asked me if I would like to come over. He wanted to tell me the story of CEEYS. To talk about her childhood in the GDR, and the musical treatment in her album trilogy “Concrete Fields”, “Waende” and “Hiddensee”. And about the fact that it is important to allow further perspectives of reflection even 30 years after the fall of communism. Because 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall also means before the 30th anniversary of German reunification. The topic remains present. Instrumental music could also play a role.

CEEYS live

Photo by Jan Blachura

Off the ice

The Selke brothers grew up in a creative family. The mother actress, the father editor at the radio station in the Funkhaus Nalepastraße. One of his shows was called “Uhrsprünge”. “It was about history and stories,” explains Sebastian Selke, “Word games fascinated him and that jumped over to us. He had a cabaret side and always had problems. He tried a lot of things with humour to get to inner opposites.”

Sebastian is also aware that stories about childhood tend to be transfigured. That music would play such a big role was not predetermined at first. “I was at the Turn- und Sportclub Berlin. Where Katharina Witt was also trained. Actually I should have become a figure skater. Our mother was looking for something where you could bring art, theatre, sport and music together. But it was also known that children were doped in the GDR. My mother was active as a sports trainer herself and she was also asked to treat children with drugs. It had a system and elsewhere one wondered why all the swimmers looked like men. Today it’s still a scandal that hasn’t been properly dealt with.”

The young figure skater Sebastian already had back problems due to the many jumps, his brother Daniel felt only conditionally comfortable on the ice anyway. But it wasn’t a matter of course to pursue a free career in a planned economy country. Mother Selke wanted to become a pianist herself, but was not allowed to. And to be accepted into the guild of musicians was also nothing you could decide for yourself. “Music itself was not so highly regarded in the GDR. Nevertheless, there were dynasties in the East, partly Mafia structures. Not everyone who wanted to make music was allowed to make music. But it was her wish to give the children what they did not have. So she helped us to do that. In return, we promised to do it to the end.”

CEEYS Stage

Piano, cello and lots of cable. The set-up of Sebastian and Daniel Selke. | Photo: Katharina Tress

Clairaudient

Sebastian started with the cello, Daniel, three years younger, a little later with the piano. In their East Berlin record flat, the two practiced as far away from each other as possible in order not to get in each other’s way acoustically. “For the Stasi, prefabricated buildings had the advantage that they could easily be bugged because of their thin walls. This gave us problems practicing. On the other hand, we began to interact with our instruments. I reacted with the cello to my brother’s piano melodies. That’s how we actually came to play together. Something of my own came into being”. That’s when Sebastian went to primary school. Classical music is still a sporting art today. There are numerous important competitions, nowhere is practicing and technique as important as here.

Sebastian and Daniel also took part in numerous youth music competitions. Decorated with success. Meanwhile the wall had fallen and with growing up the own artistic output became more and more important. “In classical music everything was very narrow and rigid. We always loved this ambient music, but had no electronics ourselves.” Mike Oldfield and Vangelis already existed in their parents’ record cupboard. Otherwise the synthesizer-based scores inspired Polizeiruf 110 and of course Reinhard Lakomy. The electronic pioneer who died in 2013, who is known to every child with a GDR connection through the “Traumzauberbaum” (dream magic tree) and who still makes their eyes light up. Apart from Lakomy, there were synth musicians like Frank Fehse, but today hardly anyone can classify them. “We have never really been able to fit into the classical world. There were strict regulations. We never felt comfortable there.”

Klingenthal Studio 1

View into the Klingenthal studio | Photo: Roman Koblov

Newly mapped technology

It is often neglected that the GDR had its own world of instruments. Only in such a system could something like a subharchord emerge in the first place. “All the musicians looked to the West. Everyone wanted to play Fender, Marshall and Gibson. Instead of Vermona it had to be a keyboard from Yamaha”, Sebastian explains the circumstances, why synthesizers played such a subordinate role in pop culture in the GDR. At first they were as expensive as seldom and when they were, electronic instruments were used in films or television productions. Technical incomprehension also played a role. “In the GDR, the standard mechanics were used to try to understand synthesizers. But that was not possible. Nevertheless, many great instruments were created.” Daniel and Sebastian have been collecting old electronics from the GDR for years and bringing them to their Klingenthal studio. Some things are being restored, others remain in their partly shaky original condition. “Bernd Haller built the great Vermona 14. Our model can no longer hold the pitch correctly. But with Arpeggio it sounds very special. That’s why we left it that way.” The knowledge about these historical devices is becoming more and more rare. A very small but passionate scene. The Selkes like to drive all over the country to get dusty sound generators. In the meantime, you know e-technicians in Poland who (still) master the craft of former synthesizers and restore the instruments. “We don’t want to glorify anything. It’s the discovery of these instruments that matters to us in the first place – instruments that didn’t interest anyone back then.”

Klingenthal Studio 2

Photo: Roman Koblov

In addition to numerous Vermona keyboard instruments and DDR-E pianos, which do not even have a model name because there was only one model, the Klingenthal studio also has East German Gefell microphones, Russian octave microphones and Czech tape machines such as the Tesla B116. (“But we still have old Orwo tapes, but they stick so fast.”) The almost forgotten music technology is not exhibited here in a museum, but used in everyday studio life. Be it in our own CEEYS productions or in recordings for young artists* and international artists. In a way, the sound of the GDR lives on, it develops, can create new genuine and contemporary contexts.

Dualisms

It is always dualisms and contrasts that inspire and drive the Selke brothers, according to their own statements. Communism versus capitalism, East and West, Moog and Vermona, classical and modern. Then there are two brothers. Fans of the Beach Boys and Oasis know what’s going on. Letting a Vermona sound consciously in today’s times could already be a message. The album trilogy completed this year deals with these frictions. “Before we made the albums, we saw the long-term documentary “The Children of Golzow”. An ingenious work. Here you can see some who made it and many who failed and don’t want to be filmed anymore. I discussed with Daniel how to make this topic a musical starting point. Can this be represented in an album? How can you thematize something like that with instrumental music? We wanted to create our own view of the things of the time that were so quickly passed us by in childhood. Can you remember and reflect on that?” “Concrete Fields”, “Waende” and “Hiddensee” deal with concrete architecture, walls, freedom, travel and systemic contradictions. Ambient and cinematic. In a musical variety that in itself has to do with many discrepancies regarding the genre description. “A complicated matter. With the great success of people like Nils Frahm, the term Neo-Classic has already been overturned again. There are so many names for it today: post-classical, modern-classical, alternative-classical, neo-classical. But nobody knows what that is. We simply call it Contemporary. Contemporary instrumental music. That’s what we think best.”

CEEYS and Peter Broderick are currently working together on a project that sounds promising and is also to be implemented live. Tours in the USA were completed in autumn. Recently our own festival “Novemberstimmung” took place. Also the next Q3Ambientfest is already prepared. “Music with classical instruments and reference to the present is like a soundtrack for the city,” explains Sebastian Selke. Like the architectural contradiction between Sanssouci and the numerous records on the drawing board. Sebastian and Daniel Selke help shape their city with their creative means and expand narratives. Organising things themselves, using international networks and local infrastructures for concerts and festivals. That remains important alongside all the compositions and recordings – and you get the feeling that things are just beginning for the two of them.