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Album of the week: Henrik Schwarz 'Instruments'

...asserting Schwarz’s position as one of the dance industry’s most technically proficient musicians.

Artist: Henrik Schwarz
Album: Instruments
Label: Sony
Release date: 13/04/15

Producers who are able to cross the thin divide between dance and classical productions are ones for which I've always had a soft spot. Being able to tear up a dancefloor in the one instance, and to produce soaring, string-driven melodies the next, requires outstanding talent. Henrik Schwarz is a producer who has long been favoured by the Innervisions label, a collective which has dominated RA polls, festival slots and warehouse parties over the past few years, but it's on his more traditional productions that his musical talent comes into full view.

'Instruments' is a wonderful seven-song snapshot of what Schwarz is capable of. Many of the productions sound nothing short of gladiatorial, the crashing drums of Cloud Three being the boldest production on the album. It's a slight change of tack from some of Schwarz's recent classical productions, developed alongside Bugge Wesseltoft, which included the sublime, piano-driven Movement Seventeen.

The closing record on the collection is the charming, jovial I Exist Because Of You Two. Not as grandiose as the opener, a xylophone skips over a light, shimmering bassline easing the album to its conclusion. In Bjorndal, undoubtedly atmospheric, is brief but adds to the flow of the album, although with the tools at Schwarz' disposal it would've been nice as a longer piece. The entire collection was produced along with a Japanese ensemble at Tsukiji Honganji Temple in Tokyo, and then edited with the help of classically-trained musician Johannes Brecht; so it should come as little surprise that the album slots together so seamlessly.

The highlight of the album arrives with Leave My Head Alone Brain Seven. Slightly longer than the previous songs, this gives the track chance to spread its wings. Marvin Two, however, is a sprawling, ten-minute symphony which finally embodies all that Schwarz was hoping to achieve. The man himself went on to say “I wanted to see whether this music still means anything when you take away all the synthetic sounds and the beats.” .

Opener Walk Music Four is a rework of one of his club tracks from yesteryear. Putting Schwarz's theory of melody without the beats firmly into practice. The lack of “beats” giving prominence to aspects of the track that would otherwise go largely unnoticed. Wamims begins the process of guiding the album home with aplomb before the closing record, alleviating much of the tension built throughout of the album and asserting Schwarz's position as one of the dance industry's most technically proficient musicians.

WORDS | Jonathan Coll


Tracklist:

01. Walk Music Four
02. Marvin Two
03. Leave My Head Alone Brain Seven
04. In Björndal
05. Cloud Three
06. Wamims
07. I Exist Because of You Two

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