Christian Fennesz is one of the founding fathers of modern electronica, bringing laptop-borne glitches and ambient explorations to the masses since 1997. You can hear his influence in everything from Stars of the Lid to Washed Out and well beyond, from popular dance music into the weird and wonderful world of Max/MSP programming. So, with his first visit to the country in ages happening this Saturday at the Unitarian Church, we thought now would be a good to time to look back at five of this Austrian expert’s most important and powerful works to date.s
Fennesz – Endless Summer
Where better to start than the one which has become an omnipresent classic, a defining moment in the history of experimental electronic music at the turn of the millennium? Endless Summer is an incredible album, finding warmth and nostalgic joy within the sounds of twisted guitar strums and glitched-out noises. This was a new sensibility for the new millennium, filtering our emotions through the complex codes of computer processors, merging the human and the digital in an entirely more positive way than Kid A had done a year previous. A new step for the progressive and imposing scene which had built up around Mego in the 90s, Endless Summer showed that sadness, joy and memory could all be expressed in ways we had never before imagined.
Fennesz & Sakamoto – Haru
Of his many collaborations over the years, none have left the lasting impact on listeners (and on Fennesz himself) that the work with Ryuichi Sakamoto has. Sakamoto is a Japanese composer of beautiful, melancholic piano pieces, with a history in experimental electonics through his tenure in the legendary Yellow Magic Orchestra, pioneers of the Moog synth. Sakamoto’s contemplative piano playing merges perfectly with Fennesz’s ambient sounds, drifting on the periphery of the senses. The music is loaded with sadness and resigned dignity, bringing two worlds together in the twilight.
Fennesz – The Point Of It All
Following up the success of Endless Summer was always going to be difficult but Venice shows a confident composer continuing to work at the top of his game. Here white noise and hiss are instruments, sculpted to create epic textures out of which ethereal melodies can erupt. This track also has the distinct highlight of David Sylvian’s guest vocal, with the former Japan frontman adding another layer or emotion to the mix thanks to his warbling, sad lyrics. More dynamic and forceful than most of his work, it’s one of the few Fennesz tracks that goes full epic, though not in the way you’d expect.
Fenn O’Berg – In Stereo Part IV
Fenn O’Berg is the group of Fennesz, American experimental provacateur Jim O’Rourke and Austrian legend (and head of the Editions Mego label) Peter Rehberg. Their collaborations have added an extra dimension to Fennesz’s output by focusing on a world away from melody, driving instead at minimal textures of digital noise and otherworldly sounds. It sees Fennesz at his most abstract, sacrificing the emotional resonance of his solo work in favour of a harsher, colder exploration of his synthesized sounds and sample manipulation. For once, it seems to be about the future, not the past.
Fennesz – Fa 2012
Lastly, a collaboration with himself. Released just last month on Editions Mego, ‘Fa 2012′ sees the Austrian re-working a track from his debut album, Hotel Paral.lel. ‘Fa 2012′ updates its earlier self with all the grace and dynamism that has characterised his ever-developing talent over the years. More obviously loop-based than most of his work in the interim, it bears the influence of techno deep within its skin though the surface remains a typically beautiful shimmer of digital noise and practically subconscious synth work. It also comes backed with an epic Mark Fell remix.
Fennesz plays the Unitarian Church this Saturday with support from Cian Nugent and Withering Zithering, while Donal Dinneen will be providing visuals. Tickets are priced at €19.50, including booking fee. All the details are on the Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/events/349135825177308/