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The Stately Electronic Music of Bernd Kistenmacher

Twenty years ago Bernd Kistenmacher crafted electronic music, blending classical and modern approaches to create alluring contemporary EM. In the early Nineties he took a long sabbatical, but has now returned.

Here is a sampling of some of his releases, old and new...

BERND KISTENMACHER: Head-Visions (CD on Green Tree Records)

This 1999 CD reissue of this release from the late Eighties offers 64 minutes of dreamy electronic music and includes a 12-minute bonus track recorded live in Berlin 1990.

The first track builds from airy textures to a pastiche of elongated keyboard chords which then proceed to entwine to form a luxurious soundscape of dreamy character. Auxiliary elements enter the mix: a metronomic beat (achieved by a looped single keyboard note) and delicate embellishment (designed to give the impression of a guitar swallowed by a keyboard). While the former contribution evolves into a sultry rhythm, the latter embarks on an expression of agile melodics. Supported by the enduring foundational textures, this melody cavorts with a vigor that balances enthusiasm with soothing definition, resulting in highly enthralling tuneage that persists in exploring delightful variations...all the way to the song's pacific conclusion.

The next piece employs a variety of melodic textures to achieve a swelling intro for what swiftly turns into an energetic song. E-perc sets a snappy tempo which is accompanied by several keyboard riffs. As some of those riffs slide into the background to enhance the rhythms, a spry keyboard emerges to delineate a lead melody. Bubbling diodes lend emphasis, amplifying the tune's brisk animation. For the finale, the music enters a dark tunnel for a moody winding-down.

Track three features a tense opening of exhaling synthis. Auxiliary effects season this foggy milieu until the flow reaches a passage designed to instill anticipation with eerie tones filtering through falling rain. Celestial textures emerge to establish an airy ascension that persists until it rises out of view.

The bonus piece is a bouncy tune with shuffling rhythms and slippery electronics. A crisp lead riff adds a dreamy flavor to the central theme, expanding to generate a pleasant mood with a tasty sense of lateral motion.

This tuneage blends peaceful textures with nimble keyboards, achieving an engaging disposition tinged with sprightly undercurrents.

BERND KISTENMACHER: Dresden 08/89 (CD on Green Tree Records)

This release from 1999 offers 52 minutes of elegant electronic music recorded live in Dresden, August 1989.

Textural electronics conspire with smooth keyboards to produce dreamy excursions.

The electronics are a skillful blend of atmospheric auralscapes and lilting keyboards. The textures waft with an infectious calm, generating luscious expanses of tenuous definition crafted to promote introspection and relaxation; yet these vaporous layers also exhibit an intriguing tingle of subtle vitality that refuses to let the listener's mind stray.

Meanwhile, keyboards flavor this harmonic vista with melodic seasoning, delivering stately character of a gentle character. Kistenmacher's fingers are constantly coaxing fresh modifications from the keys, elaborating on basic themes with delightful augmentation.

Synthetic percussion is present, entering the flow after a long stretch of dreamy tuneage. These rhythms are gentle yet quite infectious, inducing a state of pleasant agitation that stirs the audience with their understated urgency and blends nicely with an attendant host of bubbling diodes.

This music is designed with a slow-building structure, setting a pacific temperament and then spicing up things with sweeping chords. Pleasant melodies are established, then teased into languid variations with agile manipulation.

The majority of this release's music is presented in a single track that incorporates a series of tunes in a unified flow. A second, shorter track offers a tenser dose of tuneage with multi-tracked keyboards conveying a sense of charming magnitude.

BERND KISTENMACHER: Celestial Movements (CD on Mellow Jet Records)

This release from 2009 offers 68 minutes of stately electronic music.

A regal posture is established with dense texturals and stately keyboards.

The electronics display a solemn demeanor, generating tuneage that is rich with sovereign puissance. This serious approach has its jubilant moments, though, with nimble riffs periodically surfacing amid a pastiche of intellectual moods.

Keyboards provide a host of enticing riffs that softly combine to form a luxuriant state of cosmic ascension. Deep-voiced tones coexist with sparkling notes, resulting in a well-rounded sonic spectrum that is full of imperial flourish and astute charisma. Gentle passages feature auxiliary threads which flavor the flow with sprightly definition. In the fifth track, the keys achieve a vigor role that is quite glorious.

A degree of rhythms are found in a few tracks, but these tempos are usually kept in check, immersed in the flow so as to provide subtle locomotion without becoming too intrusive. In a few instances, however, the beats achieve a commanding presence.

Each track takes its time setting the mood and getting things moving. This slow-build fashion results in a temperate disposition that readies the listener for the deep mesmerization inherent in the songs. With the exception of the beginning and finishing pieces (which serve to set and deconstruct the astral stage), the tracks are long (from 10 to 19 minutes), allowing the melodies to evolve at a relaxed pace.

These compositions strive with great reverence to capture the beauty and splendor of interplanetary space, from the nobility of the rings of Saturn to the sedate agitation of the asteroid belt. A mood of breathtaking majesty is accomplished, and in some cases hyperactive keyboards attribute lively enhancement.

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BERND KISTENMACHER: Beyond the Deep (CD on Mellow Jet Records)

This release from 2010 offers 61 minutes of noble electronic music.

This time, Kistenmacher turns to the oceanic depths for inspiration, producing tuneage that explores the mysteries above and below the waters.

Noble electronics and rhythms are employed to achieve music with strong character and imperial mien.

While texturals are utilized, their presence is minimal. Background layers are more often established in the form of tonal drones originating from elongated keyboard chords. The gist of the electronics are dominated by keyboards which generate a regal sound with engaging riffs running on top of moody cycles. Nimble fingers create spry riffs that sparkle with delightful zest.

Sometimes the keyboards adopt a pure piano sound that injects the songs with a vivid humanity.

While there are instances of conventional e-perc, Kistenmacher prefers to apply non-impact rhythms to introduce tempos into the songs, allowing pulsating sounds to approximate beats and lend some propulsion to the tuneage.

These compositions excellently capture an aquatic feeling, not just by including waves and seagulls in some occasions, but by establishing a dense drama that superbly evokes the murky depths. The music transports the listener into realms of dark pressure where light never reaches. Yet a certain gentility is present, alluding to a sense of awe at exposure to vistas unseen by human eyes.

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