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CD Feature/ Natural Frequencies: "Tranquility in Motion"

img  Tobias

This man had travelled so far: From his days as one of the first techno musicians and a purveyor of a dry, minimal and yet organic groove, via the rich soundscapes of his melodic phase, he finally arrived at “Ornamental Journey” in 2005:  A deep, warm and all-embracing album full of bass radiation, looped guitar lines and a love for everything that surrounds us. It was to be a fresh beginning once again: Andreas Leifeld had set up Natural Frequencies to mark a new phase in his life – a life filled to the brim with creativity, which always saw him involved with music in some way or the other, either as a composer, a live performer, a student of a plethora of different instruments or an avid lecturer on related topics. “Tranquility in Motion” is not the logical follow-up to its predecessor, it is not even immediately or obviously recognisable a Leifeld work. And yet, it is the very essence of what he wanted to achieve.

Trudging rhythms, glistening harmonies

Just a quick glance at the back cover reveals that this record takes its time, the shortest track clocking in at approximately seven minutes and the total amount of seven pieces taking up just over an hour. What happens in between is intense and yet soothing, relaxing and still arousing, abstract and simultaneously threedimensionally metaphoric. Many will nevertheless consider this to be a chillout album and they may have their point: The trudging rhythms, the glistening harmonies, the reduced thematic material, the way in which the sounds float without being obtrusive and allow listeners to either join the flow or deviate from their path in peace, are all part of the lounge phenomenon. And yet, I strongly object to the notion that this is background- or functional music. Through years of experience, Leifeld had come to the conclusion that he wanted his work to contain nothing bur the absolutely necessary and that he wanted it to be boiled down to the essential. 

Scenes rather than songs

And so that is what “Tranquility in Motion” is about: An exercise in whispering and a conscious stream of symbols all pointing to the same horizon. The opener “Dreaming” is made up of a motive of a mere four tones and a single change of the root note, while “Inside” drifts on a tabla and rimshot loop, merely shifting the focus of its melodies to the fore- and background for a hypnotic eleven minutes. There are maybe even more acoustic instruments to be found here, but the prominent use of synthesizers and samplers have created an ethereal sound, which strongly differentiates the work from the “grounded” vibes of “Ornamental Journey”. The same can be said about the less coercive nature of the compositions: Especially in the middle section of the album, many of the tracks are scenes rather than songs, taking two to three elements and creating living environments out of them in a continous process of subtle changes. At first, some passages appear trivial, but then again it is the very simple nature of the material which also forces one to look closer and discover the universe hidden beneath the surface, where there is no repetition in the true meaning of the word and no two subsequent moments are alike. “Minimal elements are opening the senses for a musical macro-universe” the sticker on the jewel case says and that is not a bad description at all. By all means, it is a perfectly realised vision of reduction and the result of an exact knowledge about what is needed and what isn’t. 

Andreas Leifeld died from a long illness on February 2nd of last year, possibly at a stage of his life when he had finally discovered the style which embodied his ideals better than any other. “Tranquility in Motion” is therefore not only a noteworthy release of its own, but also the legacy of a man who could say so much with so few words. Its optimistic spirit strongly suggests that its creator had found what he was looking for all these years. For no matter how dark and brooding some of the tracks may start off, they always find the light of their resolution and the yearning harmonics of the final “Zephyr” are aimed straight at the sky above us. Despite the sad connotations of this record, that is a consoling thought.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Andreas Leifeld
Homepage: Ozella Music

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