ambient music piano

Julia Gjertsen & Nico Rosenberg – Distant Fields Review

Creating a slow motion universe of sound

Sounds like…

The slowest ink drop sprawling out in colourful water.

The review

Upon reading about the musical collaboration between pianist composer Julia Gjertsen and electronic composer Nico Rosenberg, I was struck with one of Julia’s quotes. ‘You don’t have to know each other, or physically be at the same place in order to connect musically.’ I completely agree, having run this website for well over a decade now. Musical connection can be made in so many ways and that merger is what makes ‘Distant Fields’ a beautifully textured work.

Julia Gjertsen

The idea behind Julia and Nico’s work is to create a slowed down distance and the way they have done this is by using sound textures. The piano is recorded several times over and played out in various stages of echo and reverb showcasing the different layers of composition. Then swirling around the piano layers are several textured synths that bubble, swoosh and breeze around you. The key comes from the album artwork that shows two waveforms crossing paths and smearing into each other. This is how the album sounds too and its beautiful.

Each track has its own peaks and troughs as the piano and synths gurgle and swirl together in reaction to each other. Julia Gjertsen plays the piano intimately with the hammers and piano creaks included and they are enhanced with vinyl spits. She is minimalist but also melodic and that melody is enhanced as the piano layers become almost like a church bell team ringing out softly in the distance. Nico Rosenberg delicately adds in algorithmic synths and sounds around the piano that you can feel and almost touch. This is a tactile album.

Nico Rosenberg

Four of the tracks are very much piano led and ‘Ekte’ is the album standout. It effortlessly places you in a rhythmic trance like gentle tubular bells and I could listen to it on repeat for hours. The final two tracks stray away from this style. ‘Sonata for Piano and Sequential Split 8’ is far more Tangerine Dream doing sleep music in its fabric. Bonus closing track ‘Proper Time’ turns the piano into a percussive rain trickle in an inspired piece.

This is going to be an album that you’ll look to for hazy ambient chill out times. The way Julia and Nico have crafted the album makes it densely packed with sounds and brushstrokes of thoughts. You can never truly hear them in clarity and that sets your mind off into a peaceful, spacious slumber. It is beautiful and elegant from beginning to end. The term sleeper hit will need to be redefined for us now to mean a hit for the pillow music lovers.

Recommended track: Ekte

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Julia Gjertsen & Nico Rosenberg - Distant Fields



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