After the first wave of artists that have broken the ice with their way of combining contemporary symphonic music with electronica and jazz on the European side (Olafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, Max Richter) – now there is a new generation of young musician breaking boundaries on a new level.
Especially in Germany there is a new wave of artists that bring the thing on a whole new level. These 20 – 25 year old people don’t just imitate what the bigger names in the scene (the fathers) have done but develop the style to a totally different level and add new ideas instead of just copying what the older guys did. This new wave of artists have a huge musical knowledge, have studied at the best music academies, learned to play „classical“ instruments and know how to improvise on a very high level.
They have been raised in 2 different world: Studied the history of (contemporary) classical music and also been influenced by what’s happening in Electronica evolution of the last 25 years.
Ralph Heidel is one of these new kids in the German scene.
Coming from Munich, the 25 year old extremely talented musician studied saxophone and composition at the Munich academy of music (known for being the best music school in Germany. Think Julliard or Berklee). He graduated in 2018.
Leering everything about the music of 20th century composers (Charles Ives, Alfred Schnittke, Giöyrgi Ligeti etc). At the same time he grow up with the music of electronic producers like Alvo Noto, Boards of Canada, Jon Hopkins, Jan Jelinek, Four Tet since early days. And: he comes from a Jazz musicians family and has grown up by listening to the jazz collection of his father. Studied saxophone since age of 12 with a big passion for the more advanced Jazz.
In his own music all this comes together.
„Moments of Resonance“ are seven compositions full of brilliant little ideas, harmonic complexity, unheard music surprises, clever citations, dramatic evolutions, big explosive moments, meditative moments and euphoric high points.
This album is an extremely emotional work of art for strings, saxophone, drums, bass and electronics.
Ralph Heidel and his 7 piece ensemble Homo Ludens connect contemporary chamber music with Electronica, Ambient, Post rock and avant-garde Jazz. On a highest possible musical level – without getting too abstract and incomprehensible.
Everything is composed and improvised. Nothing is sampled. You find wild Punk-Jazz parts that recall John Zorn or Mahavishnu Orchestra and romantic passages that make you think about European impressionistic composers like Ravel or Debussy. But nothing is imitated, everything gets broken up through an expressive new way of using harmonization and melodical composing. Sometimes the band flies through an ambient and drone universe but one moment later the music evolves into an explosive, impossible to describe musical moment. One of Heidel’s biggest ability is to melt electronic and organic elements into a new unheard sound.
„Moments of Resonace“ never gets boring. You will discover new details also after listening 100 times. No matter if you listen to this while driving, lying in the nature or making love: this music stimulates deep emotions. Moments of joy and happiness but also heavy irritation.
We seriously recommend to see a Live show of Heidel & Homo Ludens. It’s impossible to describe. Like a Punk band with strings and like a ambient show with real instruments these concerts leave nobody untouched and once seen cannot be forgotten.
Ralph Heidel is the perfect example of this new generation of musicians that are coming up in Germany. A new wave of multi-talented artists that are equally grown up and educated in 3 worlds: the history of German music, the electronica/drone/ ambient music of the last 3 decades and the history of experimental jazz.
His way to mix styles is ultra-edgy. Not just contemporary but highly futuristic. The opposite of retro.
And the way he composes his music non-linear with an extreme dramaturgy, musical evolutions and complex harmonical and melodical changes makes the big difference to a lot of music that gets released under the name of „neo-classical“. (A term that he doesn’t really like).
He is neither one of these techno guys adding some alibi strings to hide the banality of the music and he also is not one of the guys just taking one little musical ideas and stretching it for long minutes into an atmospheric carpet where nothing can irritate..he is different.
Details on the 8 compositions:
Sweet Dark Moves
Long Drone sounds drive through this composition that recalls certain ambient and post rock moods. Again here one of Heidel’s main techniques takes place: the melting of machines and human elements. Electronic and organic sounds.
A violin arpeggio pairs with a synthesizer arpeggio. Epic strings float over a half electric, partly live played drumbeat that is ternary and binary at the same time.
One of the most colorful and epic tracks on the album. A work full of hope about the biggest theme we have: Planet Earth and its pollution.
The track starts with field-sounds recorded on the streets of Berlin. Sound made out of „trash“. Then it evolves: big harmonic developments and rhythmical patterns that grow slowly. Then you get into this machine–like bass/drum construction with subtle harmonies and string patterns. The amazing finale of the songs connects the strings & the melody from the beginning and the big middle part and Heidel playing a strong saxophone solo.
Pictures (feat. Josin)
Stunning newcomer Josin gets featured on „Pictures“. The German-Korean singer released a few EPs (receiving great press) last year. Her debut album will be out in February 2019. The Heidel / Josin collabo is more electronic than the other album material, creating an intimate song that opens up with an electronic sequencer attack, fast moving strings and progressive live drums. Sounds like Radiohead, James Blake and Muse would collaborate with a modern classical composer.
A piece full of wild contrasts and mood changes. The beginning theme gets translated in three different styles. A saxophone gets virtuously doubled by an arpeggiator.
An impressionistic middle part dissolves in a post- rocky middle part auf where saxophone and synths play back and forth, based on a 5/4 rhythm. Improvisation growing into extasy. Goosebumps & irritation. Till the grande finale starts where the melodic theme from the beginning gets reused in a fine saxophone solo.
Our Kingdom describes a feeling in a safe space in the past, a warm nostalgic spot where you feel free, loved and home. Here it appears to an ambient track, with harmonized Saxophone, which reminds of Bon Iver, and harmonized vocals with completely „free played“ strings and drums. It’s an extremely levitating but also palpable track. The largeness of the chords and colors in the strings and the saxophone opens up huge space for imagination and can dig up a lot Nostalgia. The vocal have been performed by Ralph Heidel himself.
Während die Feigen
If you listen to this album with a lot of attention you will realize that one of the compositing techniques that Ralph Heidel uses is to introduce musical themes in the beginning of his compositions that are reused, re-interpreted or re-combined later
In „Während die Feigen“ this is happening too. The long cinematic string intro theme can be discovered later in the middle part again.
This is a sensible piece of music, with finely used electronic influences, the Heidel-typical soundscapes, and a part with poignant pizzicatos. Above all else, this piece is a challenge for the strings players. The main musical theme is rehashed at the end, combining and modulating it with different elements. The piece recalls Nordic Jazz and Debussy, but is broken up by post-rock parts.
The idea for this work came out of Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso No 1. A composition of the German-Russian composer (1934-1998) that is about the contrast between dissonant harmonies and clichés from the baroque music period. In Blurred Idiosyncrasy Heidel tries to interpret the ideas of Schnittke and translate it into another musical universe. With even more stylistic wildness: Sounds that recall Jazzpunk, Dubstep.. using a radical dissonant harmonic structure and improvisation.
The most minimalistic composition on the album. Few notes, almost no rhythmic elements. In this piece Heidel tried to translate a momentary emotional state directly from his gut onto paper. The steadily growing violin part is underlined by glissandos and fine piano notes. Also, the electronic aspect is more reduced here. In the long part of a piano/violin duet, a sequencer starts buzzing and ultimately finds a weightless position under the strings quartet at the end.