A couple of years ago, Austrian duo Ritornell graced our podcast with wonderful, moody guestmix, which combined all the qualities I appreciate about their own music: depth, warmth and a certain fragility. For those who don’t know, Ritornell consists of Roman Gerold and Richard Eigner, the latter who already collaborated with Nutriot-favourites Dimlite, Flying Lotus, Jameszoo, or Flako. Together, they just completed their third album, “If Nine Was Eight”, due for a release in the last week of April on German label Karaoke Kalk.
While I have a tendency towards instrumental pieces, or at least try to pick one or two favourites to share, I found it difficult in this case. Yes, the instrumentals “Silence of the Sirens” and “A Memory of Athens” are nothing short of beauty, but they only capture one aspect of the album. The vocals by Mira Lu Kovacs or longtime-collaborator Mimu Merz are something else though. So, in the player above you can stream all four tracks that are currently available, possibly increasing in numbers before the release date on April 29th, 2016. Pre-order the full album on Ritornell’s Bandcamp shop.
It’s been a hot minute since we last heard from Ritornell, and just this week there are two newsworthy items from the Austrian duo. Since we haven’t posted a video in a while, the top spot belongs to this new one directed by Andreea Săsăran. The track is actually a collaboration with Ritornell’s fellow countryman Abby Lee Tee and soon to be released on limited 7-inch on the 15pcs label.
In other Ritornell-related news, check out their latest rework of Will Samson’s Rusting Giants on German label Karaoke Kalk.
London’s Ghost Poet teamed up with XLR8R to host a remix competition in mid-October, but only a month later all traces for that have been erased from the internet. Anyway, this Ritornell remix is the only entry that I had the chance listening to and it reminded me why I love hearing their warm analog music at this time of the year. And since we couldn’t say anything about that mysterious remix competition, let us remind you of Ritornell’s 2013 album Aquarium Eyes, which was reviewed earlier this year by our very own Hannah.
Update Incidentally, XLR8R also posted the winners of their contest today!
[I must preface this review by shamefully admitting that Aquarium Eyes was my first exposure to Ritornell, and though I have since heard what I hope is the extent of their discography, I am choosing to write this as I first experienced it, without point of reference or pre-set expectations. A completely fresh perspective, and a pure response to what I consider one of the most impacting albums I have heard this year.]
If it had to be summed in a single word, Aquarium Eyes is simply a dream. I, however, am full of words, none of which can do this release any true justice. The album takes you on an incredibly thought-provoking journey, alternating masterfully-crafted instrumentals and cryptically poetic lyrical tracks, featuring the unforgettable voice of Miriam Mone (aka Mimu Merz,) whose quivering gently-accented vocals add an appropriately haunting quality to the already spell-binding musical dreamscapes. Throughout the journey, there are delicious jazzy tidbits that belie the extensive training and thorough musical backgrounds of talented duo, drummer Richard Eigner and pianist Roman Gerold, in addition to subtle electronic “filler” that provides an even further level of audible depth and intricacy. However, the primary melodies are driven by a variety of stringed instruments, a soft, but poignant piano and an array of percussives that are deftly interwoven and expertly mastered for a truly incredible auditory experience.
The opening track, “The Morning Factory,” is an excellent forerunner for the slowish, but steady pace of the album, and perfectly exemplifies the instrumental expertise that prevails throughout this sonic journey. Not a single song on the release follows what many would consider a traditional format; there is little to no repetition and both melodies and lyrics tend to follow an unhindered stream of consciousness, which is perhaps just another aspect of the release that makes it stand out so strongly among the myriad of phenomenal releases we have seen so far this year. Even though each track is distinctly unique from the ones surrounding it, I still caught myself repeatedly rechecking the track list and finding myself shocked that 3-4 songs had passed since I noticed the transitions between them, much less that each song was at least 3.5 minutes long! They compliment and expound upon one another in a remarkably cohesive fashion, in spite of the randomness of the content–much like the dream sequences of a single night.
“Urban Heartware” is the first of a handful of word-driven tracks that are sprinkled into the release, and recounts a “dream” that could be dissected, analyzed, and interpreted to pieces, but I have never been much of a believer in “dream-interpretation” instead allowing the brain to reflect the heart of my subconscious, and often simply enjoying the journey for what it is. That is how I feel “Urban Heartware” is to be taken: at face value, with an unsullied appreciation for the imagery of another’s dreams, a detailed autodidactic accompaniment to one of the album’s more electronic and rhythm-driven tracks. This album is Mimu’s official debut as a vocalist, although she has been working with Richard and Roman for some time prior to this release. She has had her spoon in many pots over the years, ranging from the graphic arts to the conceptual ones, and now finally dabbling in the musical. She fills this new niche quite comfortably and she is planning her own debut in the (hopefully) near future! One can sense her wanderlust in her lyrics, and I personally greatly appreciate her diversity in creativity.
The third track, “In Every Dream Home A Heartache” is an overwhelmingly thoughtful and emotionally-saturated piece, featuring some stellar & plucky cello work, over a gentle, but persistent foundation of drawn-out, monotonic strings and an impressively-crafted jazz-based rhythm. The song makes references to houses and heartbreak and leaves the listener with an empty feeling, because these houses listed cannot be “homes” if the heart is not there. This is followed oh-so-appropriately by another instrumental, the title track, “Aquarium Eyes” which lends focus primarily to a plaintive piano, intermittent cello, and a wonderfully playful and multi-faceted percussive score. It is Incredibly calming and to me is the beginning of the next and darker chapter of this strange and fickle dream.
“Cherry Blossom” is perhaps my favorite of the vocal tracks on this release. I love the questions, the poetry, the breathy seduction of Mimu’s ethereal alto.. I think that her intent is to induce a sense of wonder and loss.. loss of your grip on reality–that moment when you realize you might be dreaming (or not), loss of faith in your god or your perceptions. Even if your god IS listening, “do [you] have the same problems??” The cherry blossom is known for its fragility and the lyrics/poetry of this song discuss the blossom being “disguised by the first frost” and Mimu ends this haunting expose with the admission that only chance will allow her to pick one at all. Such is our quest for answers.
“Ono” is a funky little jazz-driven number, also instrumental, though darker in tone than the instrumentals previously heard on our dream-journey thus far. The rhythm is glitchy and unpredictable, aided by a spontaneous piano, but both following the pace set by the ever-honest cello and a handful of electronic samples that once again are so effortlessly intertwined with the acoustic instrumentation. “I’ve Stolen the Moon” follows up with one of the most impressive instrumental pieces on the album, intense and heavily layered with constant and quavering cello lines, a manic xylophone or two (or three), and a handful of eerie electronic pads, all set to one of the albums more “traditional” rhythms (by which I simply mean ‘more predictable.’)
“Tremble” is without doubt the “nightmare” of this dream. The strings and piano creep and prowl throughout, the percussives swell and taunt, and in the meantime a man/beast snarls back and forth to himself, on a mindless hunt for whatever can be devoured. The track would perhaps inspire fear in some, though personally I find it to be the most fascinating song on the album. Then again, nightmares have always fascinated me.. albeit more so in the morning. Then tucked in the midst of these divergent instrumentals, there is the reprise of “Urban Heartware,” a considerably more toned-down and minimalist version of the original and much a much-welcomed rendition that is as equally enjoyable as the original, particularly in the context of the latter half of the album.
The close of the dream/album is prompted first by “As We Swim Against the Tide” which is reminiscent of a symphonic warm-up, giving you a sense of anticipation that relentlessly builds until the end of the track. To me, this is most dream-like of the instrumentals. I find myself lost in the sea of strings, almost forgetting where I am sitting and what I am in the midst of doing. Although the entire album is recorded with the utmost precision and pristine-ness of audio quality, this track stands out to me in particular with its depth of range and flawless leveling. Truly a marvelous example of what this talented duo is capable of. The album ends with “Musicbox.” An aptly-named disintegration into utter insanity, following no rhythm or discernible key, it simply plays us out, throws us into our own dreams, and continues to provoke thought long after the final chimes fade off into memory. I was fascinated to learn that this track was apparently created by 20 individuals each turning their designated music boxes simultaneously.
Aquarium Eyes is incredibly well-rounded and impressively complete, more than proving the capabilities of its creators and I must applaud the decision to incorporate the voice of Mimu in this collaborative dream. With each listen I was able to appreciate the various aspects of each track a bit more and compiled a greater understanding of the lyrical imagery and musical intricacies. It is an album that inspires a certain amount of introspection as well as a questioning of what one may have come to expect from a song. It is a healthy and cathartic journey; and one that I highly recommend.
Buy the album at Boomkat, Zero” or iTunes.
Words by hmCm
It has been quite some time since Ritornell graced us with their guestmix, but Austrian duo hasn’t stood still. In contrary, this week they’ve launched their second album on Karaoke Kalk and the track above is the album’s title track. It has all the attributes, the warmness and the depth, that we came to like about their music.
You can already buy the album from Zero”, who voted it their record of the week, or wait until next week if you prefer buying on iTunes. We also hope to present you an interview with the guys in the next couple of, so keep coming back!
May 11, 2013 You can also stream/download a new mixtape by the guys
We gave you the Swede:art Remix a while ago, but now that the remixes to the Abby Lee Tee 12-inch are out, we have to come back for this one. The duo of Ritornell has come up with this beautiful analogue sounding rework that should keep you warm for the months to come.
Of course you might know this already from Ritornell’s podcast, but in case you didn’t get the EP by now – it’s a free download!
Only a couple of days after our 3rd anniversary (previous claims were based on a rounding error), here is our tenth podcast mixed Austrian duo by Ritornell. The Austrian duo consists of Roman Gerold and Richard Eigner. If you haven’t heard their debut album Golden Solitude on Karaoke Kalk, you should’ve run across their stellar remix for Misel Quitno or maybe Dorian Concept’s remix of The Light, which featured Ninja Tune’s Andreya Triana on vocals.
Together they run their own label Wald Entertainment, and Richard also played the drums on Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma and the last Dimlite EP. With the latter he also performed live on several occasions, you might remember this video of Kalimba Lifeswamp.
For this mixtape, they chose music from their Karaoke Kalk mates, a brand new remix for Abby Lee Tee and some of their favorites.
Listen | Download | Subscribe (iTunes)01. Static – Motobecane
02. Abby Lee Tee – Morning Scene (Ritornell Rework)
03. Memotone – Eating The Sun
04. Origamibiro – Quad Time (Leafcutter John Remix)
05. Radiohead – Seperator (Four Tet Remix)
06. Fourcolor – Skating Azure
07. Tied And Tickled Trio & Billy Hart – The End Is The Same As The Beginning
08. Ricardo Villalobos & Max Loderbauer – Reshadub
09. Klaus – Pim
10. Cleptoclectics – Mix Vertically
11. Populous – Clap Like Breeze
12. (Secret Track)
13. One Little Plane – Rise
14. Fennesz – Reshift
Ritornell are currently working on their second album, as well as on an audiovisual interpretation of Nobel prize winner Elfriede Jelinek‘s play “MACHT NICHTS – Eine Kleine Trilogie des Todes”. Both are set for a release next year.
In the meantime check out tracks and remixes on their SoundCloud page, get more mixtapes on Percussion Lab, and connect via Twitter or Facebook.
A real big name is featured on the all new podcast from FACT Magazine. The new mix was put together by the guys of Autechre, who will also be releasing a new album this March.
With Valentines Day coming up soon, the latest podcast from Stones Throw is all about love. It features 10 music of Peanut Butter Wolf, J.Rocc, Dam-Funk, Mayer Hawthorne and James Pants, you can get it here.
Tim Sweeney had DFA-signed duo Holy Ghost! in the Beats in Space studio last week. Fans of New York disco and house sounds need to download this hour-long mix.
It was quite some time ago, when I featured Sam Irl‘s dubstep mixtape. He is now back with a new one, this time a selection of deep house music.
Austrian duo Ritornell is usually know for their calm soundscapes, but on their latest mix you get to hear straight beats ranging from house to minimal.
Also new on Percussion Lab are these mixes from Untold and Dak.
Bullion has uploaded his recent guestmix for Benji B to Mixcloud. And from Manchester’s Illum Sphere comes the all new Shook podcast.
Following 2007’s release of Sleep Over Pieces Vol. 1, score to an imaginary movie, Misel Quitno will release an EP with remixes in November.
Including remixes by Ritornell, J. Sayne, Dorian Concept, Caural and Dimlite, Sleep Over Remixes Vol. 1 will be out on vinyl and digital on Ish Records.
Nov 18, 2009 Finally out, the record has been spotted at Rush Hour
About a year ago, Dimlite was invited to talk about the Red Bull Music Academy in the city of Linz in Austria. These info sessions take place in many countries in order to interest young musicians and DJs to apply for the academy.
However, in the evening Dimlite was playing a concert with local drummer Richard Eigner of Ritornell. The video above shows an improvised piece, now known by the name of Kalimba Swamp.