As a violinist, composer and producer, Alex Stolze is gearing up to release his debut solo record, Mankind Animal, via Nonostar Records in the UK in March 2017. Having found much acclaim via his work with electronica acts Bodi Bill and Unmap, and having toured the world with experimental avant jazz trio Dictaphone, Alex is ready to further establish his reputation as a truly groundbreaking instrumentalist and producer. Performing with his unique, custom-made five-string electro-acoustic violin, Alex is a pioneering figure in his field of modern classical/post-pop musical explorations.

Ever since John Cale’s viola distortions with The Velvet Underground, and German master of modernism Karlheinz Stockhausen’s 1950s experiments with the electronic processing of orchestral instruments, there has been much experimentation and dialogue between the violin and the exploration of finding new ways to work with such instruments. Whilst inspired by these early experiments, pop culture experimentalists such as Owen Pallett and Patrick Wolf have also inspired Stolze. Other favorable comparisons for Stolze’s music include the laconic surrealism of post blues strings man Andrew Bird and the minimal post-pop musings of Canadian born, New York based solo artist and collaborator Hannah Epperson. Alex explains “it is a very interesting time to use an instrument steeped in so much history and to try to keep it alive and relevant to the modern world”.

A long time resident of Berlin, and co-founder of the now legendary techno label Krakatau Records, Alex continues to make his mark on one of the worlds’ great cultural centres. Having recently performed at the city’s legendary venue the Radial System with the Armida Quartet, performing radical deconstructions of Bach’s Kunst der Fuge as well as quartet arrangements of his own compositions, Alex continues to move effortlessly between the modern classical and pop worlds, and Mankind Animal is a synergy of this movement between musical worlds. After many years spent in the city, and touring the world, Alex retreated to the German/Polish border to find peace and pastoral quiet to focus on developing a new vision for his solo music. In terms of the philosophical themes of the EP, Alex explains “since I exchanged my hometown of Berlin for a ruin in the middle of nowhere that I have spent 7 years rebuilding I have passed many nights around the campfire, thinking and discussing about how civilization has advanced in many ways, yet we still struggle to evolve spiritually. I think that there is a genuine, and urgent need for humanity to develop a new level of empathetic understanding before we destroy ourselves!”. Despite this sense of urgency Alex still has hope of bringing some light to a darkening world, by trying to keep the instrument alive in the pop consciousness for future generations, “I see myself as a caveman in a high tech environment and am trying to keep my wooden instrument alive for the next generation without being a conservative classical violinist”.

Alex’s compositional techniques for the album reflect his modernist attitude, with no formal notation process involved. As he explains “normally I have a musical starting point in mind, either a groove or chord structure which I record, then I improvise a violin theme on the loop pedal and gradually work out a 4 track violin piece… The final track I work out following this, during a period of sonic experimentation and refinement”.

With tour plans across Europe (including the UK) in the planning for the first half of 2017, it seems like now is a good time for such a virtuosic talent to share the fruit of his years of experimenting with the wider world.

Sebastian Reynolds