Valeska Rautenberg appeared on these pages back in August of last year with her “Aerial Minds” ep, a release that fused her piano playing and singing. Eight months on we have her follow-up release “Veins – Songs For Piano, Wind & Water” which strips her music back to focus on the piano. If she is a newer name to you a reminder of her background may be apt.
“Born in East Berlin to celebrated actor Klaus-Peter Thiele and painter Rosemarie Rautenberg, she grew up living and breathing creativity and has followed that path throughout her life. Valeska started working as an actress at the age of eleven when she scored her first big role in a crime movie. She continued starring in movies and tv shows on and off for 10 years while at school and later during university.
However as a teenager she discovered her true love, music, which has remained her passion ever since. She studied music (voice, piano, songwriting and production) with various teachers and “Musikwissenschaften“ at Humboldt University Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin; she also received a private scholarship from a renowned opera singer teaching at UDK Berlin. Furthermore she has toured with bands, become a dedicated music teacher, and released music of different genres on various labels.”
Back when she sent me the “Aerial Minds” ep to review she did mention about having two ep’s that melded neo classical piano with field recording and electronics. “Veins..” is the first taste of this music.
“Sometimes there’s no need for words. You can let the wind whisper, the water roar, the birds talk, and the streets of Berlin tell their stories … while you play along on the piano, capturing all of those little moments. Here is “Veins – Songs for Piano, Wind & Water”: A collection of memories, favorite places, and forgotten tales wrapped in ambient soundscapes and minimalistic piano music. Enjoy.“
“Berliner Morgen” opens this diverse ep with field recordings of automobiles and bird song before Rautenberg’s piano enters the fray. There is both a delicacy and starkness to the sound of the piano that results in the sound not being too dark, nor too fragile. The pace of the piece is deliberate and slow, with a fluidity that from time to time breaks up the piece. The music is very much considered with the introduction of electronics of a darker and distorted persuasion adding in an extra dimension to the piece. These electronics, drone like in quality, balance the listener’s attention as sometimes you get an additional sound source which accentuates those that are already around. This extra element stands on its own and also adds an introspective feel to the piece. It is also subtle enough not to be overpowering.
“Wandering” is the more Ambient based of the pieces on the Ep as Rautenberg allows her piano to take somewhat of a back seat to the electronics and ambience which are largely setting the mood of the piece. The piano is more like a supporting instrument that comes along like the cherry on top of the cake. The ambience is very thin coming in like an exhale after a deep breathe. I mentioned thin before which is not a criticism as the track is very like and gentle. Sometimes ambience can be layered on too thickly and this particular track manages to show restraint and is rewarded for it.
“7 Waters” after a wind-swept field recording we hear Rautenberg in full flight behind the piano. The tone is different to previous tracks with the sound being one of confidence and insistence. For a brief period it fades away replaced with an electronic interlude, then returning showing more intensity before once more subsiding to the supporting role as recordings of water bubble around. It’s the kind of track that is reminiscient to her “Aerial Minds” ep in that you could easily hear her singing alongside the piano and in a way links the two ep’s.
“Transience”with this track Rautenberg ventures into suspense mode with a piece that has a piano tone worthy of a film soundtrack. The sound is one of distance mixed with fragility and loneliness. The sound of the piano is not crisp which allows it to have a mysterious presence in the room. Electronics that share a similar quality join in the piece, giving it an almost orchestral touch – as if the result or effect of the music is greater than the sum of its parts.
So far the two Ep’s of Rautenberg’s I have heard have been very enjoyable with this one more being to my personal tastes. It shows the layers to the artists and moves away from the more singer songwriter style of “Aerial Minds” and expands on her compositions nicely. If the mixes continues in this sort vein, then there will be a spot in these pages for her future releases.
“Veins – Songs For Piano, Wind & Water” is available digitally.