Hanno Leichtmann – Minimal Studies
Under the unassuming title of „Minimal Studies“, electronic musician Hanno Leichtmann investigates the remnants of the minimal music movement of the 1970s and catches some of its still audible echoes. The CD begins with the pulse of an organ, a deep, low bass slides in, layer-by-layer the piece builds.
The American music psychologist Diana Deutsch proved that any sound becomes a melody if it is repeated often enough. This is exactly the phenomenon we encounter here; we suddenly hear melodies and are not sure if they were there before, if they are there now or where they came from.
And yet Leichtmann’s music is not based on gushing euphony or psychoacoustic effects. Instead it restricts itself to basics by combining the repetitive structures of minimal music with elements of once groundbreaking Berlin club music. Rhythmic impulses taken from soundtracks and contemporary music samples, a John Carpenter bass, are accompanied by acoustic instruments (violin, organ, clarinet, trumpet) that play melodic patterns, which disappear in the flow of sound, becoming ever harder to discern.
Pop-minimal music; meandering chord/rhythm loops, experimental turntable manipulation basslines, it’s all there: Steve Reichs asynchronous patterns, Pole’s minimal dub, Nic Collins’and Yasunao Tone’s broken CD players, Terry Riley’s organs, Oval’s systemische clicks’n’cuts, LaMonte Young’s drones, Michael Nyman’s early film scores...
Vast monotone landscapes emerge, subliminal disco bass, idling synthesizers, barely-there electronic percussion, and occasional instrumental melodies. Hyper-minimalism on display.
What can be done with this material after it’s been reduced to it’s universal forms? Suddenly, sound patterns like landscapes from Tarkowski’s films emerge: a strangely nebulous unreality consisting all that is farmiliar, but all newly mixed together (including a monolithic guitar riff as an obituary for Sonic Youth) until the sound of bells and a few scant piano melodies take over and finally fade away. Music about music.
Hanno Leichtmann’s recurrent hymns to repetition leave the listener oddly liberated.
Text: Reinhold Friedl