One of the most eagerly awaked recent releases is Snowghost Pieces, a collaboration between Dieter Moebius of Cluster and Americans Tim Story and Jon Leidecker. This might seem like an unlikely collaboration, given how different the three musician’s pasts are. That’s not the case though. Each of the musicians have one thing in common. They’re all innovative musicians whose raison d’être is to create groundbreaking music. That’s apparent on Snowghost Pieces, which was released on the Bureau label, on 16th June 2014.
Dieter Moebius is the most experienced of the three musicians responsible for Snowghost Pieces. He’s one of the grand old men of German electronic and ambient music.He was one of the founders of Cluster, in 1971. Since then, they released their eponymous debut in 1971, Cluster have released eight studio albums. They’ve also been involved in a trio of collaborations, including two with another of the founding fathers of electronic music, Brian Eno. However, there’s more to Cluster than electronic and ambient music.
Cluster were like a musical chameleon. Their style was constantly changing. It was as if they were determined never to stand still. From ambient, avant garde and experimental music, Cluster’s music headed towards Krautrock and progressive rock. So, it’s no surprise that Cluster are regarded as one of Germany’s most innovative and influential musicians. Influential is the word that describes Tim Story and Jon Leidecker.
Tim Story was born in Philadelphia, in 1957. He went on to enjoy a career as a musician and producer. In a city famous for soul music, Tim Story became famous for the electronic and acoustic music he was producing, In the beginning, this was in Tim’s home studio. The music he was making in the early days, was ambient music.
Between 1981 and 1987, Tum Story was forging a career as one of the America’s foremost ambient musicians. He released his debut album Threads in 1981. It showcased his unique style of ambient music. His sophomore album was 1982s In Another Country. Untitled followed in 1984, with 1985s Three Feet From the Moon and Wheat and Rust in 1987.
Wheat and Rust was the first album Tim released on a label. It was released on the Windham label. This started Tim’s long and productive relationship with Windham. He’s contributed to many of the label’s innovative compilations. Since 1987, Tim has released another eighteen albums. With each album, Tim’s reputation grows. Just like Dieter Moebius, Tim Story is perceived as an innovator, who pushes musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, beyond. This could be said of Jon Leidecker.
Jon Leidecker is a San Francisco based musician. He has been producing music since 1987, often using the alias Wobbly. As Wobbly, Jon has released a quartet of albums. His music is best described as avant garde or experimental. During his twenty-seven year career, Jon has released several albums and collaborated with Thomas Dimuzio, Kevin Blechdom, Tim Perkis, People Like Us, Matmos and The Weatherman of Negativland. Away from his solo career and collaborations, Jon is a member of the Chopping Channel and Sagan. With all this experience, Jon Leidecker was the perfect partner for Dieter Moebius and Tim Story.
As Moebius-Story-Leidecker, they composed eleven track. These eleven tracks were recorded by Dieter, Tim and Jon. They became Snowghost Pieces, which I’ll tell you about.
Flathead opens Moebius-Story-Leidecker’s Snowghost Pieces. Immediately, Flathead showcases Moebius-Story-Leidecker’s ability to create innovative music, A pounding bass, quivering and squelchy, dubby synths join forces. That’s before the music becomes futuristic and ethereal. Later, it veers between jagged, lysergic, experimental and almost discordant a. Sci-fi sounds are unleashed as a myriad of sound assail you. Before long, an intriguing and innovative 21st Century soundscape has unfolded.
Literally, Treadmill is what you think you’re stepping on. Straight away, it takes on an almost robotic sound. It’s as if Moebius-Story-Leidecker are commenting on the tediousness of modern life. We’re all stuck on a treadmill, we can’t get off. Then deliberate stabs of piano take the arrangement in a different direction. Still, in the background, a robotic sound can be heard. That’s until bells chime. They’ve a slightly eerie sound. Maybe that’s because of the futuristic and robotic sounds in the background. They make this an unsettling, intriguing and eerie listen, where with every listen you hear something new.
Haunting and cinematic describes the introduction to Cut Back. The arrangement is understated, but dramatic. It unfolds in waves. Synths and flourishes of piano combine. Dieter, Tim and Jon seem determined to take the listener on a hair raising journey. Again, it’s unsettling. The arrangement sounds like the theme to some futuristic thriller. Best described as cinematic, dark and eerie, a fusion of ambient, avant garde, electronic and experimental create a haunting masterpiece.
The drama and cinematic sound continues on Fracture Fuss. It’s real edge of the seat music. Sci-fi sounds come courtesy of banks of synths and keyboards. Together, they create a dramatic, moody and futuristic soundscape. Quite simply, this is a soundtrack-in-waiting.
Understated, broody and dark describes Yaak. The arrangement is minimalist. Darkness and drama comes courtesy of synths. Brief bursts of ethereal beauty emerge from the arrangement. Mostly, it’s darkness and drama though. It surrounds you. Sounds emerge from the slow, mesmeric and edgy arrangement. They assail you, make you think and paint picture’s in your mind’s eye. That’s why the best word to describe this track is cinematic.
Slow, deliberate stabs of piano prove to be a curveball as Olara unfolds. What looks like being a minimalist soundscape changes. Soon, swathes of synths and percussion create a frantic, futuristic and hypnotic backdrop. It sounds like the dance of the Jedi Masters . Wave upon wave of sounds emerge. They assail you. Then gradually, they dissipate and disappear, leaving nothing but memories.
Minimalist and futuristic describes Cliff Doze. Synths drone and hesitantly, the arrangement unfolds. It takes on sci-fi sound, and glides along, somewhat hesitantly. Beeps and squeaks emerge from the arrangement, which sometimes, takes on a robotic, machinelike sound. The music is strangely serene and ethereal, as well as being moderne, minimalist and futuristic. It’s also totally captivating.
Straight away, Whelmed briefly reminds me of The Blue Nile’s Automobile Noise. It has a similar robotic sound. Some of the same instruments and sounds are deployed. However, before long, it’s all change. Here, the music veers between dramatic and discordant, to robotic and futuristic. Waves of music unfolds. They’re gradually unleashed. Some are dark and dramatic, others understated and ethereal. Sometimes, you’re overwhelmed by Whelmed’s eclectic, ethereal, innovative sound.
Pinozeek reminds me of early ambient music, given a 21st Century makeover. Bells chime while a myriad of eerie, experimental sounds emerge from the arrangement. They’re the perfect foil for each other, like a musical yin and yang.
Vex is a near eleven minute epic. What sounds like a combination of morse code and a radio being tuned sets the scene for another broody, moody soundscape. Drums, bass and synths combine with percussion and piano. Occasionally, bursts of ethereal beauty shine though. So bursts of static. Even eerie strings are thrown into the mix. It’s a pot pourri of influences and sounds. Despite this, it all works well, and results in an atmospheric soundscape from Moebius-Story-Leidecker.
Closing Snowghost Pieces is Defenestrate. Straight away, we hear two sides of Moebius-Story-Leidecker’s music. The first is understated and mellow. This doesn’t last. After that, the music is big, bold, dark and eerie. Synths, pianos, beeps and squeaks combine to create a dark, dramatic and futuristic final from three true musical innovators.
Snowghost Places is, without doubt, one of the most innovative electronic albums of 2014. No wonder. Between them, Moebius-Story-Leidecke have over one-hundred years experience. They’ve released over forty groundbreaking albums between them. So, it’s no surprise that Snowghost Places is an album of groundbreaking music?
I’m certainly not surprised. Knowing the reputation of the three musicians involved, I knew that Snowghost Places would be captivating and compelling collaboration. The three musicians involved all have their own ideas about music. They’ve spent a life time creating music. Not just any old music. No.
This is music that’s challenging and cerebral. It’s music to make you think, and music that sometimes, will take you out of your comfort area. Especially when you hear the futuristic soundscapes. They’re innovative and have a dramatic, cinematic sound. Moebius-Story-Leidecke paint pictures with your music. All you need to do is open your mind and absorb this groundbreaking, cinematic music. Let your imagination run riot and you’ll hear this music’s full potential. Turn up the volume and let Snowghost Places assail and surround you. Experience and absorb what is without doubt one of the best electronic albums of 2014, Snowghost Places which was released on the Bureau label, on 16th June 2014. It’s a genre melting album, Magnus Opus that anyone who enjoys electronic music must own.
Everything from ambient, avant garde, electronica and experimental music combine to create Snowghost Places. It’s an album that’s guaranteed to change your mood and make you think. Captivating and compelling, it’s moody, broody, dramatic, pensive and thoughtful. Snowghost Places is also melancholy, ethereal and beautiful. These are just a few of the words to describe Snowghost Places. It’s an album that variously, washes over you, embraces you, and forces you to think, as it paints pictures in your mind’s eye. Snowghost Places is best described as the soundtrack to a film that’s yet to be made. Instead, for the time being, you supply the pictures to Snowghost Places.