The album notes describe the atmosphere at play perfectly - a room set-up, mics, windows flung open. What starts as a simple cymbal, or an undercurrent of synthesizers, soon transforms this dusty space into a world of flowing colors, rushing through the air.
Delicacies of modern classical music combine with the subtle elements of jazz, and synthesizer in Jan Wagner’s new album ‘Nummern’, one of my favorite releases this year.
It’s a release that’s varied in elements, but comes together as a perfect whole, in a way that Nils Frahm’s Spaces in 2017 did - combining a beautiful juxtaposition of traditional elements, field recordings and dusty electronics.
Jan can be delicate in Nummer A, dramatic in Nummer I, channel Jon Hopkin’s-esque energy in Nummer G, or deep and engrossing in album closer Nummer N. The consistency is found in his ability to do so much with so little. Each track features only one or two main elements, but his strength in melody and progression, creates worlds akin to a dramatic movie score, or, like the album notes began to describe, a simple cozy studio in Berlin, with an instrumental alchemist at the ready…
Picture a cozy atelier / studio where all the windows are flung open, a pair of mics set to high gain hang in front of a piano, and the door to the space is locked. The thing is, if he’s going to play, the door has to be locked. A click track pops away relentlessly in the headphones, measuring off time. A seemingly insurmountable feeling rattles the bones, and with every chord which fills the room and spills out into the courtyard it’s slowly taking on tangible shape. It’s being released and translated, completely impromptu. The room tone, the kids playing in the backyard causing a raucous, the cat perched on the window sill about to jump off (making a thud), the creaking chair, the sound of the mallets and all the percussive, mechanical guts of the piano – everything that the mics pick up becomes part and parcel of the composition, and will eventually be woven into the very fabric of the finished full length.