Striking the iron while it’s hot always seems to be one of the brightest of ideas. For musicians, many dive into a new release after an erstwhile album is still fresh in the minds of various fans. While few would be quick to say some are cashing in, it’s undoubtedly one of the best ideas that, if done well, can truly create wonders. And now, fittingly so, just months after October’s Foreign Landscapes, Hauschka returns with a diversely new album in Salon des Amateurs; and in a directly positive way, presents a stunning triumph of skill.
While 2010’s effort was a string-laden affair that also featured the Magik Magik Orchestra, Hauschka’s Volker Bertelmann opted to focus more on his solo ambitions this time around. Named after one of the Düsseldorf-based clubs in the German pianist/composer’s home region, the album’s ten songs dance around thriving beats and rhythms. Although each song was initiated as a solo piano piece at the beginning, Bertelmann would go on to add multi-faceted tones and beats in creating an electronic feel. Songs begin with the slow tap of a drum, or the small hint of a piano melody, before layers of instruments and tones are encompassing the song’s inner walls. Foreign Landscapes might have been the richly substantial ability behind Hauschka’s music, Salon des Amateurs is a distinctively pure sound that, albeit dissimilar, is an excellent listen.
The flow on a Hauschka record is always key and there is no denying the album’s presence is forever rooted in its seamless transitions. The trade off between segues always seem to be the most important, but even the attacks and releases throughout an individual song can be tricky. Although you’re hearing the combination of what some call techno and electro with classical flavors, there is a skillful musician at the helm for every new direction. Songs like “Taxitaxi” flash around piano lines that careen through a sparkling melody, while something like “Cube” is established upon the addition of tremendous layers for an inducing, sweeping sound. The style the latter strives for seems to be the most challenging in their length, but they easily stand out as something striking but still lush and radiant.
So if you’d only stepped inside to hear the dashing new sounds of pounding synthesizers on the opener, “Radar,” it’d probably be difficult to adjust. Fortunately, Hauschka albums always sound the best when taken in as a whole and, through the use of carefully methodical ideas, Bertelmann is able to deliver terrific results. It’s rare for someone to showcase such a different sound and it still be outstanding, but Hauschka’s done just that. Salon des Amateurs is much more than striking the iron while it’s hot, not just because of its singular attributes and styles but, frankly, it’s yet another fantastic album in the span of a few months.