Still from Werner Herzog's Lessons of Darkness
One of the biggest problems I have with organized religion is wondering how so goddamned many people can come up with the same basic notion of Heaven. I mean any two people, by what silly compromise do they come up with that? I picture myself sitting at a very specific table, in a very specific restaurant in the mist of the woods. There is a girl (no names) and I am shocking everyone by tearing off bits of Sarcone's bread, running it through a stainless steel bowl of carnation-colored aioli, and feeding it to the wolves lingering at my feet. No one is sure how they got there, and my confidence seems to stem from the way they seem to love me. The girl loves me. Everyone is shocked and lovely.
Who else carries that around? What fool?
I mention it because I'm hearing the new Fennesz record for the first time just now. One thing that has always endeared me to him, especially amid his abstractions, is his gift for renewing small melodies. His Live in Japan is a long format indulgence in the tricky simplicity of "Endless Summer"--an acoustic guitar/laptop gush contrastive that peeks its head on Black Sea.
As simply as I can state it, Christian Fennesz is aging in the most beautiful and sophisticated way. His textures are reaching such a state of relief and unburdenedness that even those classic ambient songs seem kind of postured by comparison. Time passes in the space between the tracks and the silence is dutifully rich; every misstep (I'd say) in his wan Eno/Budd style collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto has built strong. Last year his production of a Charles Matthews grand organ piece--a 7" on Touch, both presaged and linked him to the emerging refinements of Black Sea. He had taken a distant stance with Sakamoto (whose collaborative talents are genius, in all fairness) by allowing him to dictate the melody. Big mistake. Pairing those two texturalists must've been a thrilling concoction but it resulted in a kind of producers' stalemate, with neither generating anything in the way of a tune.
Just pretty shit.
Fast forward to the afterglow of the Matthews pair-up, Fennesz is now trafficking a scientifically close sound, lingering appropriately, and letting his melody grow only so small.
One of the most common complaints I heard about his excellent and phonetically clever Venice, was how it sided with concept, taking away all the wrong plusses of Endless Summer and Hotel Paral.lel. True enough. Makes the maturation of his new quiet music that much more impressive; he makes songs now that are only barely music; they have an appeal as ephemeral reminders of a real world and owe nothing to it.
If Endless Summer was my before the fall love, Black Sea is a beauty and a love designed for life after that fact; superlatives are failing me.