This is the third Ghost Flute & Dice album. It´s back to the solo-piano-and-effects setup of the first album. But this time Im playing odd time-meters, putting screws and clothespins inside the piano, playing the strings with a drumstick and combining all this with some glitchy, cut-up effects. The idea is to emphasize the mechanical and dissonant parts of the piano sound itself. Thank you for listening.
Music by Mikkel Almholt. Recorded 2016-2017. Mixed and mastered by Mads Emil Nielsen. Cover by Connie Munch. Special thanks to Danielle Dahl and Michael Rexen for use of their grand piano. Also big thanks to Tanja Vesterbye Jessen, Marie Aarup Jensen, Rasmus Nielsen, Sune TB Nielsen, Jens Peter Møller and Kristian Hverring for helping out. Dedicated to Connie. MIKA-C. Denmark 2017.
With support from Danish Composers´ Society´s Production Pool, DJBFA - Composer and Songwriters´ Production Pool and KODA´s Cultural Fund.
factory-pressed CD in handmade
Released in 2018
limited to 150 copies
price: 16.00 EUR (excl. postage)
attenuation circuit distribution ACUD 1001
first edition of 150 copies
Ghost Flute & Dice is het alias van de Deen Mikkel Almholt. ‘Kropsbygning’, aan de uitspraak wagen we ons maar niet, is de man zijn derde album en zijn eerste voor Attenuation Circuit. Almholt keert op dit album, overigens net als op zijn debuut ‘Music for Amplified Piano’, op boeiende wijze zijn piano binnenstebuiten.
Naar eigen zeggen kunnen we dit verwachten: “But this time Im playing odd time-meters, putting nuts and bolts inside the piano, playing the strings with a drumstick and combining all this with some glitchy, cut-up effects. The idea is to emphasize the mechanical and dissonant parts of the piano sound itself. ” Dat doet nogal chaotisch aan, maar beluister ‘Emdrup’ en u bent verkocht, werkelijk waar. Met behulp van zijn piano en de elektronische hulpmiddelen die Almholt ter beschikking heeft, creëert hij een zeer overtuigende, muzikale wereld. Eén ook die onverwacht lyrisch aandoet. En dan, alsof de stroom uitvalt, is het klaar en betreden we de wereld van ‘Keiser of Kina’, met dwarse aan dance ontleende ritmische structuren. De lyriek is ineens ver te zoeken.
Het gemak waarmee Almholt wisselt tussen diverse muzikale stijlen blijkt redelijk symptomatisch voor deze heer. En dus horen we in ‘Glasvind’ sterk repetitief pianospel boven een elektronische nevel en start ‘Wrong is here’ met een bijna symfonische, gedragen baspartij, doorsneden met klokkenspel, waarna het geheel in een vorm van chaos verandert, alsof alle klokken in de winkel tegelijk beginnen te rinkelen. Op ‘Standardlösinger’ trapt Almholt hem vervolgens flink op zijn staart en komen we in een furieuze cadans terecht. Bijzonder is ook de muzikale wereld die Almholt schetst in ‘Undersult’. We horen hier speels slagwerk en pianoklanken die meer doen denken aan een machine dan aan een traditionele piano, het geheel samengevoegd tot een steeds dominanter klinkend geheel met onheilspellende trekjes.
‘Kropbsygning is te koop als download, maar vanwege het prachtige artwork is de aanschaf van de fysieke Cd zonder meer de moeite waard.
The music of Ghost Flute & Dice is based on piano but, instead of being something closer to modern classical and its neo-romantic chichés, has a tie to the intuition of modernity where piano is considered more as rhythmic instrument than a melodic one. Moreover there's an use of effects and tape editing which creates a level of abstraction above the piano line mostly based on chords and looping lines vaguely reminiscent of minimalism.
The framework of this release is immediately exposed in "Emdrup": piano chords and effects creating odd resonances which are a proper layer above the piano creating some similar to the classic accompanying strings, but with a wider spectrum and elements of noise. "Kejser af Kina" is instead more focused with the rhythmic elements using the prepared piano and the reverse effect. "Glasvind" proceeds by accumulation while "Wrong is here" borders ambient territories as it starts with an electronic setup prior to the entrance of the piano. The layers of "Standardlösninger" generate an apparently complex sound but it's instead based upon variations of a fistful of melodic cells. "Pladearbejde" explores the string elements of the piano while "Undersult" the variations of sound masses. "No Name Nr 2" closes this release with a dialogue of the piano with his effect and noises.
Apart for some trivial moments where the experimental layer is a little expectable, the equilibrium within moments tied to tradition and to modernity is remarkable. Practically a release enjoyable by everyone.
FELT HAT REVIEWS
Mike Almholt's third album under moniker Ghost flute and Dice is a wonderfully edited and published album of solo piano/effects music that can be viewed both as an experimental chamber music as well as harmolodic improvised stuff that is both dramatic, melancholic, witty and encourages you to think of a piano as a whole orchestra.
He uses lots of different techniques - his reverbrated tones can easily turn into a glitchy sound or have the characteristics of a cut-up experiment but nonetheless still bearing interesting harmonies, having a lot in common with a soundtrack type of music where you can clearly read the narrative - figurative designates of emotions are clearly obvious.
Mike has a unique talent of creating a soundscape that is not necessarily looped into predictable game of drones rather than that he utilises techniques which resemble plunderphony in its subtle manner.
Both very delicate and staccatto fuelled energetic passages set within reasonable time frames which is also an asset. Highly recommended.
RAISED BY GYPSIES
As I get older I find myself more interested in music which could be described as either "free jazz" or "jazz but not jazz". There is a rather specific taste that I have for it though, in the sense that I feel like if people started telling me "Oh yeah, you should check out this artist" I probably wouldn't be into them. Ghost Flute & Dice have the kind of music I'm into. From the very first track I knew this was going to be something special and it never let up, it never disappointed.
Pianos bring upon intense strings and this has a sort of jazz feel to it right away but it also feels like the score to a film so I'd also say classical. Really deep cello sounds come in as well, but I still think of this as being on a stage for some reason, some sort of "Phantom of the Opera" but with a modern twist. It has this growing feel to it which makes it seem huge-- it's just ever expanding in sound. This quiets down into a piano part which reminds me of the theme from "Doogie Howser" or something from the 1990's in a similar sense. The playing can become somewhat manic and then it just kind of cuts off.
The second track has more of this tapping sound mixed in with piano notes that could be something out of "Peanuts". There are these static skips in here instead and it seems odd for me to type this but it feels as if someone is making the piano skip the way one would make a record skip as a DJ. It's perhaps something I would call classical remixed but with these odd beats as well (which might be a bongo). The piano seems to run out of gas at one point though, as it seemingly dies down and these static screeches come in with deeper tones. This piece begins to seemingly be at war with itself and it is amazing.
The pianos continue to do their piano thing with this sound of doom and static mixed in and it makes for quite the overall sound-- the likes of which I've not heard before and it really is rather compelling. "Glasvind" has a start that drives like "Knight Rider". I seem to focus on two layers at a time in these songs, which makes me think of Ghost Flute & Dice as being a duo but it is in fact a solo project from best I can tell. People might think that this is not the proper playing of the piano, but the truth is it takes something skilled above and beyond what you think would be "good" to pull this off.
And then of course everything comes crashing down into destruction, as if instruments are being smashed and set on fire. This is a great sound, but it isn't always one you hear to end the third track (maybe the final track?) but it still somehow works as the next song is more somber, droning and has church bells as if a funeral even if not in the literal sense. All the bells and whistles grow much louder though and it feels as if there is... It doesn't seem like anyone is coming back to life, but there is definitely some of change here. Perhaps all life has been wiped from the planet and this would be the point of the movie where it begins to grown again. But then it settles back down again so maybe this is all just in my head.
By the fifth song we're back to that dark classical vibe of chaos from the second track only at some point during it there is this sound like bass strings are being played in slow motion. I'm not sure what's going on, but it's borderline laughing. This eventually takes us into something deep in terms of strings where it almost feels like the songs are being played with silverware while waves come chopping through at the same time. It is somehow peaceful. Quieter sounds come through now, little notes at a time. It has diminished from the previous hectic pace but a slow build can be felt in the background.
The grind builds with those notes scattered in time. It's not the sort of jazz I was thinking about when I listened to the first track but right now, that is okay. Tapping brings in this rhythm and this whole thing just intensifies to the point where you feel like it's going to burst and then it just kind of trails off, a few Hitchcock sounds here and there. On the last song we seem to return to that jazz feeling though, but it's broken up by these static bursts and beeping like someone is signaling from morse code and wants to S.O.S. perhaps. As the pianos plunge in deeper and darker, what sounded like the end before might have felt like the end, but no, it was clearly not the end. This is the end and it is wonderful. What a ride this has been.
The first release by Mikkel Almholt’s curiously named project Ghost Flute & Dice was called ‘Melody Is God’ and reviewed in Vital Weekly 977. But not by me, but I heard his second release ‘Live At Echokammer’ (Vital Weekly 1058) so before deciding who to give it to for a review I checked it out and I kept listening to ‘Kropsbygning’ (meaning ‘body type’, says Google translate). Almholt on his first release worked with some other people, but the second and now this new one all seem to have been made by him and he uses the piano as his primary instrument and adds to that real time computer processing or some kind of electronic set-up. Again this is an interesting mixture various musical interests that not always mix properly on paper one would think. There is surely a vast interest in modern classical music I would think, even when Almholt keeps his material with a time frame of three to seven minutes, which one could as easily label as ‘pop length’. Sometimes leaning towards the work of Erik Satie, spacious and introvert, but also towards the classical minimalism of say Reich and Glass, taking a left turn to the world of musique concrete and very occasionally a bit of noise or drone and in each of his pieces he delivers a sound world of its own. There is quite some variation in these eight pieces, but that works very much in favour of the release. The diverse approaches is not a show off of what Almholt can do, but it is to presenta most interesting musical release. Great cover too!