Audio Dregs (2013)
After a break of five years, Frank Schültge Blumm, aka F.S. BLUMM, the Bremen-born, Berlin-based composer and musician, has released his first solo album, Food. Out on Audio Dregs, a record label and music collective out of Portland Oregon, this release is by an artist who, we are told, is just warming up and finding his feet again.
“Experimental music made by people equally in love with melody and invention, with special attention being paid to music that falls between the genres,” is how Audio Dregs describes its mission. This description is wholly appropriate for this album by Blumm, with its tuneful and thoughtfully constructed compositions executed through the combination of jazz, blues, folk and electronic music. Creaking with organic double bass and croaking with flat saxophones, in a mood that is carried along by slack drums and the occasional carefully placed compressed beat, this album is a delight.
F.S. Blumm – Food Album Stream
Sack und Blumm – “Sixtease”
Blumm’s day job is as a producer of radio plays in Berlin, and there is clearly an ear sensitive to the myriad powers of sound and aural space at work in this well-conceived collection of recordings. Fundamentally there is a sparse ensemble feel to the core of this album, but this is overlain with close up nerks1 and squiggles that serve to re-contextualize the listening experience, introducing oblique abstract narrative elements that further enhance the musical journey found in each track.
Blumm is well known for his postal collaborations with Sack Ziegler, as Sack und Blumm, and this album continues the use of folk instruments that was prevalent in their material. The music of Sack und Blumm has been compared to that of experimental guitarist and composer Hans Reichel and, whilst this solo release steers clear of those more avant garde elements, there are still momentary flirtations with those influences on Food.
The opening track, “Decke”, has echoes of The Residents in the parp1 sounds of its shuffling electronic gait, but this is quickly absorbed by the soft jazzy tones of the sliding bass, dextrous guitar and a mellow marimba. “Schlier” continues with a shambling folk feel, with some intriguing doubled-up guitar melodies atop electronic beeps. Here, we have the essence of what this album is about. The guitars, double bass, drums and organ are simple and unprocessed — instruments played together in a room, but combined with moments of electronic intervention that interact to produce a music of languid charm and interest. The track “Wandal” picks the pace up, achieving what might be described as a rolling waddle that brings to mind the image of a bustling over weight mid-European woman in a floral house coat.
“This special inbetweenie”, as the label describes this album, is filled with atmospheres of melancholia and nostalgia whose juxtaposition with playful and quirky elements conjure subtle pathos and longing that is mixed with moments of wry humor. Cohesive and coherent from start to finish, this is an album full of imagery, that uses melody and incidental sound to create a sense of narrative progression, with each track intimate and human in its sensibility.
The composer F.S. Blumm tells us on his website that he “likes small things”. For him, “A matchbox filled with cellophane contains a universe of sound.” This understanding of the power of the apparently insignificant, of the creative possibilities and truth found in the unexpected, is here, in this album of lovely music. Whether it is the rattle of the strings on a double bass, the oscillating harmonies of two guitars, or the wheezing pulse of a sound captured from the everyday that has been processed and looped, Blumm shares with us his love of detail both deliberate and incidental.
Food proves to be an ever-evolving experience for the listener, with each and every track offering something to stimulate the palate. The break has clearly done Frank Schültge Blumm the world of good — and at only $3.84 for the whole album on Bandcamp, sustenance has never seen such good value.
1 Nerk and parp are fictional words, onomatopoeias constructed to describe recurring sounds on Food.