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Marco Lucchi & Henrik Meierkord – Lieder Ohne Worte [CHITRA032]

Marco Lucchi, based in Modena, Italy, and Henrik Meierkord, based in Stockholm, Sweden, have a lengthy collaboration to their reciprocal credit, and they accomplish it far and near alike. A testament to the interplay of their work together is that a listener might be hard-pressed to discern which of their recordings are the result of long-distance file-trading, and which occurred when the two managed to be in the same place at the same time.

Several aspects of their respective music-making serve them well as creative partners. First of all, both tend toward the ambient, given as they are generally to a slow pace and to a sensibility that manages to be at once radiant and intimate. Secondly, while both are multi-instrumentalists, there is a complementary nature to their specialties, Lucchi being more of a keyboardist, Meierkord more of a string player. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, they are both immersed in techniques drawn from electronic music.

In particular, both men are experienced with live multitrack recording, in which they process and layer their own performances in real time. Meierkord is fond of layering sinuous tones to create scenarios of unique dimensions. It becomes uncertain — even unimportant — to the listener what preceded what, so intricate is his deployment of interplay. Lucchi likewise finds parallels between classical orchestration and the opportunity for drones lent by modern synthesizers; in a small room he can create a vast space. There is often an oceanic depth to such efforts, part composed and part improvisatory, in which playing is a tool toward composition, rather than the other way around.

Throughout their new record, there is an underlying melancholy, a nostalgic beauty, and a reflective consideration — a virtue that is foundational to their ongoing collaboration. The result is particularly rich in plaintive scene setting, as on the glacially paced La Bestia Umana which emerges from a neighborly field recording of a dog barking, and Kosmisk Strålning which maintains a dream-like quietude, more shadow than light. On Like Tears in Rain, what sounds like a synthesizer is, in fact, a piano, a recording of which has been stretched beyond the point of it being readily identifiable.

On first listen, their leaning toward unimpeachable steadiness can seem uniform, but listen more closely and you’ll recognize how explicitly they emote on a track like The Third Stage, due not just to the reaching melodic surges (which, in turn, match the sampled recordings of bird calls) but to the slight discordances that suggest trouble and tension. In a different manner, there is A Warm and Golden October, which balances breaking-dawn hush with piercing overtones. That track features a motif at the end, played on a celesta; those bell-like tones edge the piece out of dreaminess without entirely breaking the spell.

The greatest outlier — dog barking notwithstanding — may be on Oändlig, not just for its fierce pulse, but because of its more immediately electronic vibe. Oändlig is an exceptional piece, bringing to mind the minimalism of Terry Riley and the rave classics of Underworld.

Marc Weidenbaum 

Produced and mixed by Marco Lucchi and Henrik Meierkord

Marco Lucchi: mellotron, piano, celesta and synthesizers

Henrik Meierkord: cello, viola, zither, piano, organ and FX

Mastered by Dionis Afonichev (Dionisaf)

Cover picture by Dionis Afonichev (Dionisaf) with AI

Artwork and cover design by Dionis Afonichev (Dionisaf)


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