Recomposed by Carl Craig & Moritz von Oswald

Cover Artwork

Cover Artwork

The third installment of Deutsche Grammophon‘s Recomposed series comes from techno godfathers Carl Craig and Moritz von Oswald (Basic Channel, Rhythm & Sound). Together the joint forces of Detroit and Berlin put their hands on classical material from Maurice Ravel and Modest Mussorgsky. Now, I would understand anybody’s scepticism towards such projects, but Craig and von Oswald treat the samples with respect, using them to compose their own arrangements, slowly progressing into an electronic, orchestral something. Still, though parts from Ravel and Mussorgsky are present, the final outcome resembles more the works from the likes of Steve Reich, Philip Glass or last year’s album-collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Christian Fennesz. Whether it’s how Carl and Moritz reacted to each other, or it’s just the awstruck the originals may have caused – together they achieve to create a new exciting sound which is neither much like any Carl Craig or Basic Channel production.

The album consists of an introduction six Movements and one more interlude, but basically it should be considered as a whole, one track. Having had access to Deutsche Grammophon‘s immense back-catalogue, Craig and von Oswald picked the works Rapsodia Espanola (Ravel) and Bilder einer Ausstellung (Pictures of an Exhibition, Mussorgsky). What a struggle it must have been whether to attempt Bolero or not!01. Intro
02. Movement I
03. Movement II
04. Movement III
05. Movement IV
06. Interlude
07. Movement V
08. Movement VI
So how do you review this? It’s difficult! Basically you either like it or not, but you definitely have to take time for a good listen to get a chance to like it. As I said, think of it as one track – you don’t have a skip button anywhere, it’s a one hour journey. And that’s why Recomposed works so well, because it takes its time to build up a performance. The standout track is clearly Carl Craig‘s Movement V, the absolute climax of the journey, perfectly combining the two worlds of electronic and classical music. Everything before was a just-but-necessary introduction to that point. Oh, rumour has it that Ricardo Villalobos was asked to do a remix of this. The finale is von Oswald‘s attempt on this combination of the old and the new. Movement VI blends in and turns the performance in a new, a more ambient direction with soft strings and a conga-beat.

Not quite news, but prior to the album release, the two collaborators have been performing live with a classical ensemble at Berlin’s Staatsballet. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to track down any footage from the performance, but with Carl Craig releasing live-recordings recently – maybe one of the tracks will make it on a release?

Now how will you get Recomposed? There’s the standard CD, but also a very beautiful vinyl double longplayer. Suprisingly, digital downloads are not available from Deutsche Grammophon‘s own web-shop, but you can buy a copy on iTunes.

Oct 29, 2008 here is a video of Carl Craig performing with orchestra in Paris