Berne, Alexander: Self Referentials Vols 1 & 2
Alexander Berne has been a prolific artist the last three years having released a series of multi disc albums, the last being Self Referentials Vol 1 & 2, put out in 2012. This is not your conventional release, in fact, it is far from it. The music is strange; a mixture of avant-garde, ethnic, drone and ambient sounds. The musician experiments with various custom made acoustic instruments, synthesizers and piano to make highly unusual compositions. This music is not easy to digest and I have to say this was not my cup of tea. However, this is a purely subjective assessment and listeners who like this sort of thing will probably enjoy the album.
Volume I begins with the short "Far Afield Recording", which takes a Middle Eastern theme and sets it to drone-like acoustic sounds.
In "Pulsationism (The Long Tick)", pulsating rhythms fade in and out before another Eastern melody breaks to the surface."Ruse (Fantastique)" is another strange track where avant-garde meets drone meets ethnic music. What he uses for instrumentation is hard to tell, probably a combination of electronic and reed sounds.
One of the more dramatic tracks is "A Choir of Threnodic Winds" featuring waves of electronics, almost sounding like a synthesized church organ.
"Hidden Memories: Plangent Wail" is almost creepy in nature with its stark rhythms, Eastern vocalizations and weird electronics.
The second disc is entitled Volume II - An Unnamed Dairy Of Places I Went Alone and is dedicated to Berne's good friend Jaik Miller who sadly passed away in 2012. It continues along the same path as the first disc although the music may be a little more unsettled in nature with a slight hint of foreboding and melancholy creeping into some of the tracks, which incidentally, are only named with Roman numerals. Again, the music is very ambient and experimental, with many tracks taking on haunting atmospheres.
Self Referentials is a tough album 'to get', as they say, and will probably take a few spins for you to absorb properly. Try as I might, this album just wasn't for me, however, I can and do appreciate an artist stepping out of the norm and creating something totally unique. If you like ethnic/ambient sounds by all means check out the samples and go from there.
* The cover of my copy is slightly different than the one pictured above. *
1. Far Afield Recording (1:58)
2. Pulsationism (The Long Tick) (5:23)
3. Ruse (Fantastique) (5:34)
4. A Choir of Threnodic Winds (3:53)
5. Hidden Memories: Plangent Wail (3:58)
6. Transsublimination (4:22)
7. Four Instantiations (2:12)
8. Amphibiana (5:55)
9. Of Fugal Melancholia (5:24)
10. Sonum Onscurum: Headphonic Apparitions Part I (5:17)
11. Sonum Onscurum: Headphonic Apparitions Part II (4:47)
12. Sonum Onscurum: Headphonic Apparitions Part III (5:55)
1. I (1:31)
2. II (2:28)
3. III (2:56)
4. IV (2:31)
5. V (3:30)
6. VI (1:59)
7. VII (2:13)
8. VIII (2:25)
9. IX (2:32)
10. X (3:31)
11. XI (4:00)
12. XII (3:12)
13. XIII (2:56)
14. XIV (3:19)
15. XV (1:20)
16. XVI (2:57)
17. XVII (1:35)
Added: June 20th 2013
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Label's Official Site
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