“The composer Martyn Heyne was born in Hamburg and classically trained at the music academy of Amsterdam. His concerts and recordings have gained him a reputation for a unique approach to the guitar. As a performer, Heyne played across the world as a live member of the indie rock band Efterklang and as a solo artist has supported acts like A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Nils Frahm, and Balmorhea on tour. Heyne’s show is woven around his mesmerising electric guitar playing and has taken him to legendary venues such as the Funkhaus in Berlin and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. Since moving to Berlin and setting up Lichte Studio, Heyne has been involved with some incredible releases in the contemporary classical and independent genres. As a composer, Heyne worked alongside Dustin O’Halloran on the US TV series, “Transparent”. In 2015, the show won five Emmy awards and two Golden Globes.
It always pays to enter an album leaving any expectations behind once you are about to press play. I wasn’t familiar with Heyne the artist prior to listening to this, his third, solo album. Heyne’s name was known to me via his recording and/or mastering of releases at his own Lichte studio for the likes of Moderna Records, Luke Howard, Shida Shahabi, Erik K Skodvin & Rauelson to name a few. I fully expected to experience a Modern Classical release based on my experience of the releases he has worked on. I wasn’t near ready for the diverse collection of pieces that “Open Spaces” offers. This album ranges from driving post rock influenced indie rock through to loose feeling smoky jazz, from ambient guitar noodling to electronica and then on the final piece, some symphonic Modern Classical. If you are looking for a diverse collection of sounds the “Open Lines” is one for you to discover the full gamete of Heyne as a composer and multi intrumentalist.
Most artists tend to have a sound which becomes their signature through their pieces, At times this can make their music recognizable, but at others it can limit the appeal as there is a samey quality to their pieces. With Heyne’s music being as diverse as it is there is a difference in the tone of the pieces. While the guitar parts on “Night Pylon” and “The Hall” share similar qualities, The way Heyne plays the guitar and the style of music that he is exploring allows for variance throughout. The Motorik driven, almost Post Rock opener of “Dancing On A Landfill” starts the collection off with a sound that could be from anywhere over the past thirty or so years. I detect prog infusions as well as an almost commercial feel. My only qualms with this piece is that the drums feel a bit flat and dull which lessens their impact on the piece. “Night Pylon” takes us into a near Downtempo smoky Jazz feel with guitar having a central part and having a saxophone quality to it. “The Hall” is built on layers of guitar parts and inhabits this shimmering classical ambient/new age feel, while on “As Mad As Man” Heyne mixes in acoustic and electronic guitars with warbling synth tones whose quality I can only compare to Air’s “The Virgin Suicides” Soundtrack.
“That Which Flickers” is a slow building glitchy, droney, ambient piece which really sets itself apart from the rest of the album which shouldn’t be a surprise when you take in the album in it’s entirety, but for a piece that is predominantly electronic it stands out. The final trio of pieces continues to demonstrate Heyne’s versatility in composition ranging from the new agey introspection of “Neuwerk” which also moves through Post Rock and slight Jazz territory, the propulsive “Red Brick Black” with it’s flickering, colourful sound where Heyne approaches the sounds from different angles and textures and finally “The Hall Reprise” whose guitar lead sounds range from the aforementioned New Age style through to a more swoony sort of sound and the cello work of Anne Müller bringing the album to a grand finish.
Heyne states the idea behind the album is that “Each piece in Open Lines is conceived like a chapter of a book or a scene in a film. It’s a journey and I try to tell it in full, concisely, and without repeating anything unnecessarily. To work on one track without considering the whole picture would not have occurred to me.” The lack of repetition throughout the album is one of it’s hallmarks. Whether each of these “chapters” or “scenes” are from the same book or film I am not too sure, but I know if you are looking for a release with a diverse collection of sounds, then “Open Lines” may be for you.
“Open Lines” is released on October 30 on Lp and Digital via Heyne’s own Tonal Institute label.