Ambient Music

‘Fremde Zeit – Addendum’, by Jakob Ullmann

Beautiful & haunting . . .

‘Fremde Zeit – Addendum’ collects five pieces of etheric, liminal composition by Jakob Ullmann (1958), the widely acknowledged master of Quiet music.  For us, as we’d imagine many others, it’s a striking first introduction to the German minimalist’s very particular body of work. Comprising 4 hours of barely-there strings, percussions, wind instruments and voices prefaced by the instruction “Please choose, for each piece, the volume settings of your sound system so as to just barely mask the ambient sounds in the room”, this is music made for concentrated listening, recorded and specifically designed to give listeners “the opportunity to hear more, and better” by the simple but essential notion that “We hear better because we make an effort to hear better.”

With this is mind, we’re invited into a sound world which actively, yet effortlessly challenges our perceptions of space and time with a compelling, transcendent effect akin to that of listening to music by, say, Eliane Radigue or Morton Feldman, yet with an alien, detached appeal entirely its own. Due to their extended durations – no piece is shorter than 34 mins, and over an hour at the longest – we form temporal impressions which blur the boundaries between our immediate space and the apparent vastness of the recording, teasing our sixth sense to wander on a knife edge of trepidation and somnolence.

Once you’ve heard this music it should come as little surprise Ullmann studied sacred music in Dresden from 1979-1982 – his music could be the lingering resonance of an Arvo Pärt piece played in a huge cathedral, carrying the weight of history.

A revelatory package, whose impact will surely emerge and manifest as slowly, yet powerfully, as the music itself.


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