Piano and Coffee Records is the offshoot of the very fine blog of the same name. Based in Lima, Peru they have put out four releases since they debut – Doug Thomas’ “Ballades” in November of 2017 and have thankfully introduced / promoted newer artists such as the above duo, Pinki Plonki and Maria Cascales Alimbau (the last two will be covered on these pages one day). Their releases usually come in a combination of Digital/ Cassette / CD-R and in editions between twenty to fifty copies.
This release is the result of a chance encounter.
“When Fabian Rosenberg (Klangriket) and Sjors Mans came across each other through Soundcloud, there was an instant click. Discussing music and sound gear, they eventually decided to make a song together. Their first try-out, called Sarem, was such a good experience that the two musicians felt like collaborating further to see what they could come up with if they shared the same room while writing. This resulted in Fabian leaving Stockholm, his hometown, to visit Sjors at his Amsterdam studio. During four days, they improvised and experimented as much as possible, while taking turns on different musical instruments. This adventure resulted in five tracks that are now called The Amsterdam Sessions.“
“Vondelpark” named after a 47 hectare park in Amsterdam combines delicate flowing piano with searching and soaring ambience. Each occupies their own space, but manage to compliment each other. The piano tone is crystalline and suits the, at some times bordering on drones, ambience. Both elements are active in the music, it is not a case of primary and secondary instrumentation. I can only assume that the actual environment of the park is very similar to those in cities around the world where they can be used as simply a place to unwind and relax and this comes through someway slightly in the music. The overall feeling is of a childlike innocence running through the track.
“Hamerstraat” a street in Amsterdam that I could not glean much information on, so I cannot compare the qualities of the street to the music. However the piece is a controlled slice of Modern Classical piano with the piano having a constant rhythm with flourishes being added on top, while not being glitchy, share a glitchy feel. Half way through the track Viola and Cello played by Elias Sjöwall and Frida Holmgren respectively enter the piece adding emotive mournful qualities as they float around the piano. While the tone of the piano had been one with an introspective quality, the strings push that feeling further along.
“Prinsengracht” one of the three canals in Amsterdam takes the release in a completely different electronic centered direction with rhythmically pulsing synths being insistent alongside small snatches of drones. There is an almost feverish pitch to the Synths that I wouldn’t normally associate with the impression I get from the title and a simple google search to see what the canal looks like. It feels that the track is suited to futuristic imagery rather than environmental. That is not to say that it doesn’t work. It builds up tension along the way with drones picking up and ‘Stranger Things’ style synth progressions taking hold and gets more and more ominous and eerie before fading back to its beginning motif.
“Leidseplein” when you think of a square in the city that is a hub for nightlife, musically you would think along the lines of the previous track. However, this one is more in tune with the track “Hamersraat” and “Vondelpark” with its use of strings and drones alongside repetitive loop like piano playing. The piano sounds like its going in waves of rolling sections before ebbing and restarting. It’s these ebbs that allow for the drones to settle in and between the two elements the work well to keep the track moving forward and interesting.
“Zeedijk” a street that was known for being seedy as well as crime and drugs, but revitalized into the city’s version of Chinatown. Indescernible warping electronics that feel like they have been affected by the weather take the track in a more Experimental/Drone direction with fluid movement being the key. Piano comes in with a different tone to any of the piano used elsewhere on the release and has small minimal movements. String drones with a metallic edge cut across the music and suit the almost claustrophobic feel to the track. The piano feels like its being buried underneath the storm of sounds swirling over it. With the final minute left to go additional electronics and percussion are adding into the mix before a large drone cuts through returning the track to its starting electronics.
Having heard only a small amount of each artists work, it is hard to discern who has put their own stamp on the collaboration or is it has been a successful 50/50 split. What I can say though, is that together they have constructed a release that is not overtly predictable and nicely adds variation of the Ep’s five tracks. The stand out for me is “Prinsengracht”.