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Album review Swiss Chill

SIMON DUFF wallows in an immersive masterpiece, made for a spa in Switzerland, that is an ambitious fusion of cinematic techno and and ambient house 

Boris Blank 
Resonance        

(IAN Records)

 

 

BORIS BLANK is one half of the Swiss duo Yello, early pioneers in all things Techno and House, as well as taking in influences from Surrealist and Dada art. Their hits include Bostich, Oh Yeah and The Race. 

A composer in his own right, one of Blank’s recent solo projects is a composition and sound design project for a health spa (the Fortyseven Thermal Wellness Spa in Zurich) designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta. Its thermal baths, that date back to Roman times, are a large complex of outdoor and indoor pools with some as large as 50 by 20 metres in diameter. 

Blank made the music for specific rooms in the spa: the Room of Wellness, for which the composition is based on themes of steam and water; and the Winter Garden, that ranges over over two floors with exotic plants and live butterflies. Such was the demand from the spa’s customers asking about the music, that the immersive sound mix created for the venue by Blank and the Munich based label Immersive Audio Network (IAN) has now been released.

An ambitious and cinematic techno/ambient/house fusion, it is released in various audio formats including Dolby Atmos and Pure Audio Blu-ray along with vinyl and CD. 

The album opens with the futuristic deep-space musical drive of Vertigi Heroes Part 1, full of pulsating rhythmic intent and dense bass atmospheres, very much in the vein of classic Yello. The title track Resonance expands these textures, full of melodic piano themes. Originally the track was commissioned as Nasa’s official theme song for the presentation trailer of the James Webb Space Telescope. 

For the FORTYSEVEN the architectural intent of the music works perfectly. Speaking ahead of the album’s releases Blank summarised his approach to the work: “Often the development of my tracks can’t even be consciously controlled. I let myself be guided by the songs and their respective moods and see where they take me. 

“On Resonance they took me far out of the world as I know it. Working on this album was on the one hand a departure into the unknown, but on the other hand also like a return to a kind of inner peace. Like a heavy burden that you just leave behind.”   

Ninive, one of the oldest cities in the world, forms the basis of influences for track three on the album. A work full of Oriental inspired sounds, the end result seems to resemble an acoustic infinity pool full of exotic fruits and potent wine. 

Defying Gravity is an epic wide-screen drama reflecting on space travel combined with lush ambient and dubstep dreamlike elements and floating dream synth pads and John Barry/Vangelis inspired elements to the fore. 

North of Eden is an 11-minute trance epic combined with exotic animal and water sounds combined with distant human singing. 

Album producer Stefan Zaradic from the IAN label explains how the mixes were approached for the spa: “For the project we took Boris’s studio computer tracks and mixed in our studio in Munich, preparing stems for venue playback use and also to create the Dolby Atmos mixes. We did a kind of premix in the studio, according to the building plans given to us by the architect and the venue’s technical install team. On location we finished the audio, tweaking mixes that are used for the venue’s loudspeaker set-up.”

The album reaches its conclusion with the driving Vertigo Heroes Part 111, with further driving rhythms combing with ambient and traditional oriental sounds, before the final track Mirage concludes the immersion, disappearing slowly into the vast unknown elements of the universe. 

A thrilling album full of bold intentions, new ideas and ambitions, realised by all involved from the artist to the IAN production and mix team. 

Zaradic concludes by looking forward to the labels further adventures in Immersive: “At IAN we deeply believe that Immersive Audio can provide new adventures in modern sound that can take listeners into new experiences. Bold, cinematic, intellectual music is what the label strives for and Resonance is definitely proof of that concept.”

Resonance is released by IAN records. For more information see: ianrecords.com

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