Absolutely incredible album from German ambient pioneer Klimek (aka Sebastian Meissner), who made his name recording for the legendary Mille Plateaux and Kompakt imprints. His sound has always been balanced on the electronic processing of 'real instruments' - guitars primarily, and this philosophy carries into 'Dedications' admirably with a record that sounds like a cross between Arvo Part, Marsen Jules and Deaf Center, with a series of dedications to his many influences. This is a road we saw travelled most notably by Ben Frost on 'Theory of Machines' earlier in the year, itself a paean to the great Michael Gira, but Meissner takes this concept further by dedicating each track to two of his favourite artists, of any discipline. For instance the opening piece is entitled 'For Jim Hall & Kurt Kirkwood', the second 'For Ezekiel Honig & Young (pan) Americans' and so on - each holding a personal resonance for Meissner himself. In this it is the artist's most varied album to date, building on relationships, on influences and on the artistry of his career so it's hardly surprising that it has taken four years to piece together. Guitar, piano, strings and percussion are woven together so lightly it's almost impossible to hear where one piece ends and the next begins, while delicate samples emerge and erupt seemingly without warning. 'For Mark Hollis & Giacinto Scelsi' opens with the kind of spacious, smudged piano melodies you might expect to hear on a Talk Talk record, gradually changing through a mire of radio static before being lost in a digital fog. 'For Steven Spielberg and Azza El-Hassan' takes cinematic string parts and overlays echoing percussion resulting in a smoky atmosphere Deaf Center would be in awe of and resulting in one of Meissner's most ineffably beautiful tracks to date. Interestingly, the album is extended in the form of a special bonus cd (initial copies come free with 'Dedications') which takes the concept still further, with four extra tracks adding to the theme, ending on my favourite of all 'For Lia & Jim Corrigan - the smartest kid on earth' which through processed field recordings and delicate piano work sounds something like Harold Budd through a mountainous Middle Eastern mist. So called 'ambient albums' rarely reach the grandeur or expertise of Meissner's expansive productions, and it seems fitting that Anticipate should welcome him to the fold with one of the loveliest albums of the year. - Boomkat
The question of influence is a notoriously slippery one. Dedications is, in part, Sebastian Meissner's attempt at a more toughtful appraisal of the notion: with each track title, he explicitly references two people who have had an effect on his work. One track, for example, pairs Michael Gira with a Soviet ship worker called Vladimir Ivanovich; another bridges the gulf between Meissner's grandmother Zofia Klimek and the photographer Gregory Crewdson. In this way, Meissner dramatises the distances between things that are important to us, at the same time acknowledging the generally occluded connections that bind them together. Musically, Dedications is similarly oblique and surreptitious - clusters of electric guitar or crisp piano shiver together in gaseous spaces before being slowly drawn out into a quiveringly resilient spider's web of sound. - The Wire
I'll confess that I approached Klimek's Dedications with some mild degree of trepidation because, as much as I admired Sebastian Meissner's past Klimek recordings Milk & Honey and Music To Fall Asleep (both on Kompakt), I couldn't help but feel he was on the verge of painting himself into a stylistic corner. In short, the distinctive Klimek style-panoramic vistas of shuddering guitars-seemed in danger of settling into a too-limiting signature. How pleasing to discover, then, that Dedications finds Meissner (also known for recordings under the Random_Inc and Bizz Circuits monikers) reinvigorating the Klimek style by dramatically broadening its scope on this discernibly more personal and intimate album (four years in the making, apparently). Some of the reason for that can be attributed to Dedications' concept, with each track's style influenced in part by the two figures Meissner chooses to honour in each case, all of whom resonate significantly in his world for one reason or another, musical or otherwise. The challenge isn't necessarily in identifying the honourees (they're explicitly cited in the track titles) but in sussing out the correspondence between a particular track's content and style and the figures with which it's associated. Ultimately, of course, that's a bit of a parlor game because, at day's end, the music succeeds or fails on its own terms.
That expansiveness is immediately apparent in the first piece, "For Jim Hall & Kurt Kirkwood" (dedicated to the influential jazz guitarist and Meat Puppets' member), when delicately strummed guitar chords and jazz picking resound in slow motion, and in "For Ezekiel Honig & Young (Pan) Americans," where Meissner draws upon several of Honig's Scattered Practices pieces. "For Michael Gira & Vladimir Ivanovich," dedicated to the one-time Swans leader and the Russian ship worker, incorporates ship-related field sounds and-surprisingly-guitar playing by Bill Frisell. Also surprisingly, "For Eugene Chadborne & Henry Kaiser" honours the experimental spirit of the two guitarists in its bold design, yet ends with a becalmed piano outro. Oud-like plucks stutter throughout "For Zofia Klimek & Gregory Crewdson" (dedicated to Meissner's grandmother and the photographer), imbuing it with a mysterious and brooding Arabic character. Likewise, "For Said Murad & Mazen Kerbaj" exudes an exotic Middle Eastern character in keeping with the titular Palestinian instrumentalist and Lebanese trumpeter. That a funereal mood permeates some of the material, including the drone-like "For Marvin Gaye & Russell Jones," shouldn't surprise, given that both figures died prematurely: the former was gunned down by his father and rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard (Wu-Tang Clan) dropped dead in a recording studio at the age of thirty-five. Also entrancing is "For Mark Hollis & Giacinto Scelsi," a tribute to the Talk Talk member and classical composer respectively, which elongates a blurry piano chord until it vanishes inside a vaporous mass of fog and shudder. The deeply meditative space sculpted in the string-heavy "For Steven Spielberg & Azza El-Hassan" (US- and Palestine-based film-makers) ends the album on a Requiem-like note.
"For Martin Duffy & Charles Mingus" (Primal Scream keyboardist and jazz titan) opens the EP with a lovely ballad-like setting where slivers of processed guitar and piano bleed into one another. Dedications' stylistic range is not so extreme, however, that it literally matches the extremes associated with its dedicatees. Though "For Grant Hart & Bob Mould" pays tribute to the two former Hüsker Dü band-mates, the piece isn't a punk rave-up but an elegant folk-styled meditation. Recorded live at Kastanienallee 40, Berlin in June 2006, "For Lia & Jim Corrigan - The Smartest Kid on Earth" (which references Chris Ware's "graphic novel" character) merges field recordings with hazy piano playing; how telling that Meissner's project closes with sounds of piano and the outdoors, both of which signify expansion upon the Klimek sound that preceded Dedications. Admittedly, the trademark shudder occasionally surfaces-during "For Ezekiel Honig & Young (Pan) Americans" and "For Eugene Chadborne & Henry Kaiser," to name two instances-but the sound is now just one sonic device of many; if anything, in this context it acts as a unifying leitmotif that connects one disparate piece to another. Meissner succeeds in maintaining the delicate balance between individual pieces and the project as a whole since, despite the sometimes extreme sonic differences that emerge between the pieces, the album, bolstered by its conceptual thread, holds together well. Of course, no amount of theoretical background will compensate for inferior musical results but there's no cause to worry on that score; Dedications stands up as the most satisfying Klimek release to date, and maintains the high batting average established by Anticipate's first three albums.
Somnambulant laptop jockey Sebastian Meissner returns with yet another disc of exquisitely textured ambience. The prolific multimedia artist has been a presence in the electronic music community for years, releasing albums on such highly regarded labels as Mille Plateaux (R.I.P.), Sub Rosa and, of course, Kompakt, whose own 'pop ambient' brand of furniture music he has practically become synonymous with via his work under the Klimek moniker. This time around, however, he is striking out from Cologne and taking it to New York - Dedications arrives on likeminded producer Ezekiel Honig's fledgling Anticipate imprint.
A collection of perfectly realized slabs of drifting tones, humming drones and rustling static, Dedications is primarily sourced from acoustic sound sources. The record falls in line with the first two Klimek LPs, which were admittedly a bit too similar sounding for comfort, but Meissner now presents the listener with a more refined, tweaked and polished revision of the aesthetic. The heavily processed samples recall the withered majesty of William Basinski's Disintegration Loops, but the tracks - arranged with a painter's touch and awash in milky reverb - are not just about ambience: they're just as indebted to Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western guitar as Brian Eno.
Like so much of Meissner's work, this record comes complete with an overarching concept. In the past, Meissner has tackled topics as stiflingly heavy as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and urbanization, but thankfully, Dedications is less serious: it's a tribute album with each track dedicated to a pair of people that have influenced Meissner in some way. Some dedications are clearly musical reference points ('For Ezekiel Honig & Young (Pan) Americans'), while others hark back to Meissner's multimedia background ('For Steven Spielberg & Azz El-Hassan'), and still others touch upon his own family history ('For Zofia Klimek & Gregory Crewdson'). Regardless, when you strip away the conceptual framework, you're left with a collection of tracks that stand out as some of the finest in a discography overwhelmed by excellent releases.
In the end, with ambient music it's the listening experience that really counts, and Dedications is as lush, engrossing and ultimately rewarding a record as you're likely to come across. With this album, Meissner has broken the Klimek project out of its stylistic rut and pushed it to the next level, crafting an album that reveals its beauty gradually, layer by layer, with each spin of the disc.
- Resident Advisor
Sebastian Meissner kommt aus einer ganz anderen Welt. Und hat gleichzeitg genauso abstruse Verkleidungen hinter sich gelassen. Random_Inc, Bizz Circuits ... Labels wie Mille Plateaux oder Sub Rosa. Und wenn er als Klimek releast, flippe ich immer komplett aus. Die ersten Maxis auf Kompakt haben sich so tief in mein Gedächtnis eingegraben, dass ich mich immer wieder dabei ertappe, wie ich in den unmöglichsten Momenten die großen stillen Melodien einfach vor mich hinsumme. So entrückt diese Stücke auch waren, sie waren unglaublich catchy, sehr greifbar, ohne Schwierigkeiten aufsaugbar. Das hat sich auf seinem neuen Album auf dem sympathischen Anticipate-Label von Ezekiel Honig ein wenig verschoben. Die Stücke wirken erwachsener, sind vielleicht einen Tick experimenteller, obwohl dieses Wort in eine völlig falsche Richtung deutet. Das Klimek-Universum ist offener geworden, die Elemente, die die Stücke ausmachen, ziehen längere und undeutlichere Schlieren, ergeben sich noch viel mehr dem geräuschhaften Rest der Welt, sind aber gleichzeitig auch viel optimistischer und fast schon euphorisch an einigen Stellen. Jedes Stück ist Menschen gewidmet. Das kann Mark Hollis sein oder Steven Spielberg, Marvin Gaye oder Michael Gira. Das hilft für die anfänglichen Assoziationen, die man bei den Tracks hat. Den Rest erledigt der Kopf. Der lang erhoffte Lichtblick kurz vor Jahresende. - De:Bug
It's been a while since we last heard from Sebastian Meissner, erstwhile known as Random_Inc, Bizz Circuits, Autokontrast and recording for labels as Mille Plateaux, Kompakt and Sub Rosa, but here he returns with an album of pieces dedicated to people for specific purposes under the banner of Klimek. These people can be well-known, like Micheal Gira, Marvin Gaye or Steven Spielberg, but also his grandmother Zofia Klimek and a Russian ship worker Vladimir Ivanovich. Each of the eight tracks have a pair of dedication. Meissner's previous work may be associated with lots and lots of all things computer, and to some extent that's the case here too, but the main sources are guitar, piano, string and percussion instruments. They play highly moody music, and through all things processed can still be recognized. In some songs better than in others, obviously, but the whole album has quite an unified character. Warm music, made with love for the persons involved, no one could say that there is a harsh sound in ear-sight to annoy the dedicated nor the outsider, us the listener. Some cineamatographic in approach, this is mood music for late hours. Especially the final piece, dedicated to Steven Spielberg and Azza El-Hassan, has sweet strings underpinning a slightly menacing tone. Well done. Lit a candle and enjoy.
- Vital Weekly