SEMUIN: Circles And Elephants (Ahornfelder)


Posted on Apr 2nd 2010 12:08 am

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Semuin: Circles & Elephants

Circles And Elephants
Ahornfelder 2009
10 Tracks. 42mins56secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: DLD iTunes: DLD

Over four years have passed between Berliner Jochen Briesen’s debut album as Semuin, Province, in 2005 on Oregon-based imprint Audio Dregs and his second opus, Circles And Elephants, published by German label Ahornfelder at the end of last year. Blending streaks of acoustic instrumentations and electronic textures into refined sonic vignettes, Briesen created on his debut album a pretty imaginative soundtrack.

Circles And Elephant continues on the same wavelength but there is a marked evolution towards more open fields, Briesen’s intricate soundscapes gaining both in breadth and intensity. This manifests itself right from album opener Greeting Prelude, which takes its title from an orchestral piece by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, where the infinitesimal universe created by Briesen, with electronics dripping over a random beat pattern is given a surprisingly warm glow as a midi-oboe attempts a chaotic melodic form above it all, and continues to echo throughout the rest of the record thanks to a particularly rich and vivid pool of sounds. Chaos is, even more so than on its predecessor, very much part of this record, each sound formation held precariously together by little more than faith, melodies never quite forming, dissolving before they could reach any kind of maturity, acoustic and electronic sounds purposely mixed up and woven tightly with random field recordings, while abstract drumming sequences continuously collapse onto themselves.

At times, there is a vaguely discernable orderly state set in motion, on Elefanz for instance, which could almost pass for a little pop tune if it wasn’t for the unusually large number of themes running, occasionally concurrently, through the piece, or on the sweet Zombie, led by an acoustic guitar, with layers of synthetic strings and a distorted midi electric guitar running against it. Elsewhere, order is a distant concept. On Circles (Weiter), specs of oriental melodies cross paths with delicate constellations of sounds as what sounds suspiciously like saucepans are hit haphazardly, while Neve harbours a charming little melody in its early part, but let it go as a buzzing synth, layered over school yard recordings, becomes almost uncomfortably prominent. On Stem (I), Briesen assembles a delicate array of microscopic tones, but they all evaporate as a distorted drone weights down over most of Stem (II).

At times, a voice, unmistakably human on Circles, or robotic on + -, emerges from the jumble of sounds to bring the former to the outter edges of pop music, or give the latter the cold appearance of a technical manual. Other voices are scattered on various places throughout this album, but they usually appear as snapshots, as to drop a glimpse of reality into this surrealist world.

This constant bombardment of sounds and noises can at time be a tad tiring as the mind reaches a point of overload. Played in the right frame of mind though, Circles And Elephants is a magical proposal which continuously surprises and enchants.


Semuin | Ahornfelder
Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: DLD iTunes: DLD

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