ANDREA ERMKE / CHRIS ABRAHAMS / MARCELLO BUSATO / ARTHUR ROTHERSink
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It took 15 years since its foundation to release their first album. Sink was formed in Berlin in 2004. Though their music is improvised, Sink play, perform, sound and feel as a band with a distinct band sound. Their sound ranges from typically Berlin Echtzeitmusik related mixed electroacoustic and acoustic soundscapes which can, but need not, result in a minimalistic groove. Sink already appeared on “Echtzeitmusik Berlin” compilation we produced in 2012.
Andrea Ermke is a sound artist from the so-called Berlin scene. An autodidact, she has been working with a sampler, minidisc players and a mixing board since about 1997. She has developed a very personal and uncompromising style of collage. She has worked and collaborated with such artists like Jim Denley, Dorothea Shürch, John Butcher, Annette Krebs, Margareth Kammerer, Ami Yoshida.
Chris Abrahams doesn’t need any introduction. He is best known for his work as a pianist in the minimalist trio The Necks. On Mikroton we released several albums featuring him: “Hammeriver” with Clare Cooper, Christof Kurzmann, Tony Buck, Tobias Delius, Werner Dafeldecker, Clayton Thomas, “None Of Them Would Remember It That Way” with Lucio Capece, “We Who Had Left” with Alessandro Bosetti and “Echtzeitmusik Berlin”.
Marcello Busato is a multi instrumentalist from Milano, Italy. He moved to Berlin in 2003 and since then became a prominent and in-demand member of the Berlin improvisation scene. “Sink” is his third album on Mikroton following “Echtzeitmusik Berlin” and Margareth Kammerer’s “Why Is The Sea So Blue”.
Arthur Rother is a guitarist and was born 1970 in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, grew up in there and moved to Berlin in 1989. Together with Andrea Neumann, Christian Kesten, Fernanda Farah and Derek Shirley he curates events at labor sonor since 2003. He is also the maintainer of the website echtzeitmusik.de, a prominent event calendar for the experimental music scene in berlin. That’s his second album on Mikroton after “Echtzeitmusik Berlin”.
“Sink” is a perfect blend of diverse sound sources. Rother’s minimal chord playing and guitar arpeggios mix with Abrahams’ masterful knowledge of the depths of Yamaha DX-7 which sometimes emits typically electronic timbres and sometimes he makes it sound like an organ. All this coalesces with Ermke’s sonic intrusions from her minidiscs and Busato’s wide range of playing techniques on percussion and drums, now shadowy, then outbursting. “Sink” is a staggering feast of the joys found in the process of sonic research with their own instruments. A malleable bubble of hovering excitement, romantic slowdowns and joyous refrain. A perfect musical match for your post-Techno after party.
For the next release, I am not sure if Sink is the 'band' name or that if it should be listed by the four individual players. On Bandcamp it says 'Sink by Andrea Ermke / Chris Abrahams / Marcello Busato / Arthur Rother' but it also says "Sink was formed in Berlin in 2004", so there is some confusion. Despite starting in 2004, this is their first CD, notwithstanding a track on the Echtzeitmusick Berlin compilation (see Vital Weekly 835). Mikroton describes the music from Sink (as I will continue to use) as ranging "from typically Berlin Echtzeitmusik related mixed electroacoustic and acoustic soundscapes which can, but need not, result in a minimalistic groove". As a quicker refresher, from Vital Weekly 796, a review about Echtzeit Music Berlin, the book, that term stands for 'real-time music', perhaps another word for improvisation? And yes, I realize it could also be score-based compositions being performed in real-time. Here we have four players, Andrea Ermke (minidiscs), Chris Abrahams (Yamaha DX-7), Marcello Busato (drums) and Arthur Rother (electric guitar); all of them from Berlin, all them with strong ties to the improvising scene in that city. They play long pieces. Three of these are between thirteen and fifteen minutes and one is eight and one four minutes. Within those time frames, they move quite a bit around and they do so in a minimal way. Exploring a set of limited sounds, let them unfold and develop for some time, and then slowly each of the players starts shifting towards something else. The Yamaha DX-7, for instance, plays a few sounds at the start of a piece, vague and non-descript, but slowly it expands into an organ-like drone; Busato plays the cymbals for some time and then you realize he's also doing something else, but you notice this only when he longer is playing the cymbals and he's playing the drums, toms and hi-hat in a lovely minimal way, as he does in 'Little Did We Know', with the jarring organ at the end. Ermke's mini discs are loaded with field recordings (I think) and Rother's guitar wanders about, melodic, spacious and sometimes sounding, unlike a guitar. There is some great interaction going on here; they take their time exploring the material, but also make sure it is always moving and changing and throughout it is all very gentle music.
Bringt Sink (mikroton cd 88) die Wiederkehr des Kitchen Sink Realism? Der Vogelblick des Covers, die dürren Köpfe der Wilden Karde, das steinerne Sibyllengesicht, eingefangen von Serge Kolosov, dem anderen Mikroton-Visualisten neben Liedwart, sprechen dagegen. Tatsächlich evoziert SINK, das sind seit 2004 Chris Abrahams (The Necks, The Dogmatics) mit Yamaha DX-7, der Mailänder Berliner Marcello Busato an Drums, Andrea Ermke (Abrahams Partnerin bei TREE) mit Minidisks und der holländische Berliner und Echtzeit-musik-Protokollant Arthur Rother an der E-Gitarre, mit Vogelgezwitscher und windspieleri-schen Glöckchen auch eher so etwas wie eine virtuelle Realität von Natur. Zu träume-rischem Bass huschen pelzige Pfoten über die Becken, Böller vertreiben die Stare aus dem Weinberg. Nachmittag eines Fauns, in lau trillernder Luft? Steinchen und Krimskrams scharren und kullern, jemand kehrt, die Yamaha tagträumt zu rascheliger Percussion, im Hintergrund fallen Schläge. Metall klirrt, Busato wirbelt, der schrotthaltige Klangpegel steigt und spielt den kollernden, rappeligen Mr. Hyde zum trancegroovigen Mr. Chill, zerrt am Reißverschluss zwischen den beiden. Busato streut metalloide, hagelige Tropfen zur nun träumerischen Gitarre, Minidisks flattern, Gestik und Automatik verschwimmen, post-rockig und elektroakustisch. Bewegtes und Beruhigendes suchen ein natürliches Gleich-gewicht. Abrahams drückt einen Halteton, Busato raschelt und rumort im Hintergrund, die Gitarre prickelt. Aus Schrott wird ein schrottiger Beat, in den die Yamaha mit einfällt, für einen Psychedelic-Flow fasst wie bei The Necks, knarzig zwar, aber von Rother unsinkbar an Eis- und Feuerbergen vorbei gelenkt. Als kleinen 'Epilogue' fingert Abrahams zu Ver-kehrslärm und läutenden Röhrenglocken ein lyrisch verträumtes Arpeggio. Für die passenden Ohren zum stereoskopischen Blick mit einem wachen und einem Traumauge.
While all analytical musicians have been faced with adaptation to the widening impulses propelled by electronic currents for more than the past half-century, it’s committed improvisers who have used computer-related elements for the most compelling results. Avoiding the impasses of excessively segregated programming, noteworthy sessions result by coupling the properties of electric and acoustic instruments. Sink is in this lineage.
Experienced with kilowatt creativity, though mostly in other configurations, is the Berlin-based Sink quartet, which has functioned since 2004. It consist of Dutch guitarist Arthur Rother, who has worked with the likes of Andrea Neumann and Derek Shirley; Italian drummer Marcello Busato, who has played with Margareth Kammerer; Necks’ keyboardist, Australian Chris Abrahams; and most prominently, mini-disc/sampler controller Andrea Ermke, whose associates range from Jim Denley to Annette Krebs.
Although Sink members don’t throw everything but the kitchen appliance into it, their program is based around the textures brought to the foreground by guitar pings and drum rumbles while the juddering backing arises from the DX7’s organ power approximation as programmed minidiscs provide an underlying layer of drones coupled with field recording sounds. Some Necks-like timbre hypnotics are present in the extended sequences are more intense, yet they’re broken up into patterns. Furthermore, Rother’s echoing twangs and occasional menacing frails introduce hard Rock and folk-like echoes to the agenda. Should motifs become overly pressurized, cymbal accents or other instrumental interjections relax the challenge.Most characteristic of the quartet’s tracks are the extended “Little Did We Know” and “Waking Up after a Long Day Part 2”. The first moves on from an unrelenting continuum of computer buzzes, electrified keyboard oscillations to an exposition loose enough that Abrahams seems to be riffing on “Light My Fire” or an early Soft Machine track. Distinctive dissonance is maintained however with Busato’ polyrhythms, accelerating string slices from the guitarist and fitful granular synthesis mixed with what sounds like rubbing balloon squeaks. A similar underlying pulse on “Waking Up after a Long Day Part 2” is prevented from being unbending by Rother’s single-string theme variations and feedback that affiliate with cross ruffs from the drummer and synthesizer timbral jiggles. Having resolved the contradictions, the quarter finishes with a track that dissolves overbearing rail-crossing-like noise into defining stasis.
Whether purportedly honoring an appliances or metals, the band confirms how electro-acoustic elements can be harnessed to become a varied sound experience.