waiting for the thaw

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music inspired by ” Herr Arnes Pengar” film (Mauritz Stiller-1919).

In 2012, Mikel Lauki was invited to participate in Cinetone, a festival where classic films are projected and their soundtracks are reinterpreted and performed live, fusing the cinema of the 20s with the advanced music of this century.
Lauki recreated the soundtrack of “Herr Arnes Pengar” (Mauritz Stiller, 1919), a Nordic tragedy that tells the story of a love, a crime and a cruel trick of fate. The frozen atmosphere that envelopes the plot, the Scandinavian winter, get its own role, conditioning experiences and the emotional and dreamlike worlds of the characters and the viewer.


released 30 December 2014
by Luscinia Discos :  luscinia.ruidemos.org/waitingforthethaw.htm

reviews

Richard Allen, A Closer Listen, 27/1/2015

” It’s been a while since we’ve had a new score to a silent film (the last being We Stood Like Kings’ Berlin), but we’d love to hear more! The latest comes from Mikel Lauki, who identifies his base location as Antarctica. Suitably, his new work was composed to accompany a screening of the silent 1919 Swedish film Herr Arnes Pengar (Sir Arne’s Treasure). The titles of the tracks reflect the narrative. On the surface, the film is about Scottish soldiers who escape from prison and kill all but one member of a family. One of the soldiers falls in love with the surviving member, yet cannot escape his guilt ~ and dire consequences await. The defining image, shown on the cover, is that of a ship stuck in ice. The soldiers cannot get away, because the ship is locked; but neither can they escape from their deeds, for their hearts are frozen as well. Ironically, when a heart begins to thaw, shattering events are set in motion.

Lauki captures this interplay perfectly, aided in great part by the violin of Heike Grafe on the opening tracks and main theme. The glacial ambience of the score is offset by the romantic yearning of the strings, the danger of the setting by subtle electronic beeps and static charges. The opening track (“Break”) serves as an overture, and is one of the album’s finest, seeping dire portents of darkness and doom. This sets the stage for a love theme that is not quite a love theme; it’s a shrouded sort of love, from which secrets have been kept and over which hangs the sword of Damocles.

By using vast, organ like tones, Lauki provides a pure reflection of the landscape and its ice-locked inhabitants. These intensify as the album progresses; the foghorn tones of “Sir Donald” offer an early peak. The creaks of “Sir Arne” effectively convey the expansion of ice, while a looped wind howls through “Visions from Branehög”, a metaphor for intractability. This is one of two older tracks originally composed by Lauki along with Pleq; no seams are present, and it’s easy to see why such selections were made.

The cover image is found 55 minutes into the movie; a dog and its owner occupy the sledge. Although “Dear Dog” arrives early on the album, the track is well-placed for the home listening experience. As the album is half the length of the film, some liberties had to be taken. In its current form, the set progresses slowly and inevitably toward a poignant climax.

Perhaps to nobody’s surprise, the love theme carries the highest emotional weight. Appearing here in three forms, it culminates in the finale (billed as the original version). Love lends the movie its tragic tinge, and without love – even doomed love – the plot would lack its moral center. Nearly a hundred years after its release, Herr Arnes Pengar has found a new, sympathetic ear. ”

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Mike Shooter, La voz de los vientos, 21/6/2015

” […] La suma de las distintas texturas que van acumulándose paulatinamente en la pieza termina por revelar un excelente trabajo de producción a la altura de los mejores músicos del género. […] una música inquietante, profunda, por momentos oscura, en la que creemos encontrar puntos en común con la obra de Boards of Canada, Merzbow, Bass Communion o Vidna Obmana […] Uno de sus representantes más cualificados, especialmente en lo que se refiere a la integración de la electrónica en su obra es el alemán Max Richter con cuyos trabajos esta pieza y la inicial tienen mucho en común. […] Hay algo de Brian Eno en la forma de combinar algunos sonidos […] un punto de tensión que amenaza con quebrarse en cualquier momento, lineas melódicas que bordean los límites de la cordura y una impronta sonora difícil de imitar. Sin un tema central al uso que podamos recordar fácilmente, deja un surco profundo en la percepción del oyente. […] La coda final, que llega tras un intenso “in crescendo” electrónico que amenazaba con engullirlo todo, es de una gran belleza y nos deja con un inmejorable sabor de boca. […] “Waiting for the Thaw” es uno de los discos que en cuya recomendación queremos poner un mayor énfasis. […] nos parece un disco extraordinario que convierte al compositor navarro en otro de esos artistas a los que hay que seguir con mucha atención. ”

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Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly #984, 26/5/2015

” In a rather great cover, professionally printed and all that, we find the third album by Lauki. We haven’t heard his previous two releases, but we did hear his release with Pleq a long time ago (see Vital Weekly 795), which I no longer remember. From the information here I understand that Lauki likes ‘contemporary classical music, generative art and aesthetics of error’. Recently he worked on his first soundtracks and if I understood well some of that is to be found on ‘Waiting For The Thaw’. It came from an invitation to play live music to an old movie, ‘Herr Arnes Pengar’ (by Mauritz Stiller, 1919), which I haven’t seen, but which is apparently ‘a tragedy that tells the story of a love, a crime and a cruel twist of fate, and where the cold climate (the Scandinavian winter) that accompanies the action plays role, conditioning experiences and emotional worlds of the characters, visionaries and dreamers, and the spectator’. Like said, I haven’t seen the movie, so I have no idea how the music relates to the movie. No doubt and quite rightly so, the composer thinks it is strong enough to by itself. Inside his computer he uses field recordings but also violin and cello sounds, which he plays around it in a very atmospheric way. Of course these instruments are ‘easy’ to employ when creating mood music, but Lauki does this is in a great way. This is partly abstract, but also partly orchestral, with a multitude of layered string instruments. It’s not difficult to see this music fitting to such a movie: it’s lovely, sad, uplifting, melancholic; not everything in the same portion though, as I would think sadness and melancholic have the majority here, but some of that desolate atmosphere is probably the main approach to the movie. Sometimes these strings sounds romantic and sometimes these drones depict a snow covered landscape. Lauki produced music with quite some imagination and great care for detail. Top stuff. Remind this name. ”

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Peter van Cooten, Ambientblog, 2/3/2015

” (Mikel) Lauki is probably a familiar name due to his collaborations with Pleq.
“Waiting for the Thaw” is his third solo album (the first two (‘69º54´S-135º12´E‘ and ‘GEA‘) are available in digital format only).
It’s not only perfectly titled for the time of year –the end of winter–, but it’s also an album where Lauki’s ‘weakness for contemporary classic music, generative art and the aesthetics of the digital error’ blend perfectly into a perfect soundtrack.
The music is inspired by the classic Mauritz Stiller film “Herr Arnes Pengar” (“Sir Arne’s Treasure”, 1919), a Nordic tragedy in which “the frozen atmosphere that envelopes the plot, the scandinavian winter, gets its own role.”
That is not just true for the movie but definitely for the soundtrack too! ”

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Jan Willem Broek, De Subjectivisten, 21/7/2015

” In 2012 werd de in Barçalona wonende artiest Mikel Lauki uitgenodigd op het Cinetone festival. Daar tonen ze oude films en worden soundtracks va weleer geherinterpreteerd. Lauki, want onder die verkorte naam opereert hij, heeft de film Herr Arnes {engar uit 1919 van Mauritz Stiller van nieuwe muziek voorzien. Deze film is een tragedie die voor een groot deel afspeelt in het Noordelijke deel van Scandinavië. Deze ijzige en spannende atmosfeer weet Lauki ook vast te houden op zijn versie Waiting For The Thaw. Twee van de 13 stukken zijn met een andere naam en versie al verschenen op samenwerkingsalbums van Lauki & Pleq. Lauki creëert duistere ambient, aangedikt met strijkinstrumenten (van onder andere Heike Grafe). Lauki heeft een voorliefde voor neoklassieke muziek en toevallige fouten die ontstaan bij het maken van muziek. Dat is op zijn cd ook goed te horen, want hij combineert zijn ambient met abstracte en elektro-akoestische elementen en muziek die neigt naar neoklassiek. De ene keer uiterst desolaat en minimaal, waarbij je het Poolijs haast hoort kraken, maar op andere momenten juist verheffend, hoopvol en meer georkestreerd. De melancholie druipt er vanaf, zonder dat het een terneergeslagen geheel wordt. Het is een bij de strot grijpend geheel geworden dat het midden houdt tussen Netherworld, Richard Skelton, Thomas Köner, Olan Mill en Vidna Obmana. Een overdonderend en wonderschoon album. Lauki is een naam om goed in de smiezen te houden.”

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