Monolith review by Dominic Valvona

Alex Stolze  ‘Mankind Animal’
Nonostar Records, 31st March 2017


Transforming the traditionally entrenched sound and indeed reputation of the violin, German composer/producer Alex Stolze attempts to reanimate the instrument, “preserving” it, as he states, “for future generations, without being a conservative classicist.”

No stranger to reinvention, recently performing radical deconstructions of Bach’s Kunst der Fuge with the Armida Quartet, at Berlin’s Radial System venue, Stolze has gained a certain exploratory reputation for his work with the electronica acts Bodi Bull and Unmap (amongst others).

Concentrating the mind, finding a certain solace, the Berlin urbane stalwart has relocated to the German/Polish borders for a more pastoral life of contemplation; spending time on rebuilding an old ruin in the countryside but focusing on the vision for his solo work. Nothing short of guiding humanity towards a less destructive, more empathetic spirituality, Stolze attempts to bridge classicism and contemporary amorphous electronic music on his debut solo record, Mankind Animal.

Less Roedelius neo-classical, or for that matter Tony Conrad Dream Syndicate, and more John Cale inspired viola distortions and that titan of the German avant-garde Stockhausen and his electronic processing of orchestral instrumentation, the five-track Mankind Animal suite is surprisingly fluid and melodic. Conceptual and avant-garde in influence certainly, but far from a grueling or challenging experience.

A chamber ensemble mix of electro-acoustics, ambient traverses and, at times, kinetic beat undulating soul, this pan-Europa soundtrack often evokes transmogrified traces of traditional scores and folkloric music from central and eastern Europe: The articulate plucks, quivers, wanes and yearnings that emanate from Stolze’s five-string custom-made violin often sounding a link back towards the past, and ghosts of an old continent. Tradition is very prominent, but an intricate bed of low synth, contained sophisticated beats and mechanics bring it into the present.

Over the top of this score, Stolze’s succinct campfire lyrics of profound prose make allusive references to the here and now though again these concerns are often age-old: from, “where to start if you want to change the system”, on the lyrical resigned meander through the universal condition The Crown, to the more personable inner sage advice of “don’t try to be someone else/otherwise who would be you”, on the opening Don’t Try To Be.

From the cinematic Eraser to the softened timpani minor-overture Stringent, Stolze and his ensemble produce a considered postmodernist suite, both experimental in merging the classical with the contemporary, and yet a pleasurable, even soulful and thoughtfully poised listening experience.

Tickling Our Fancy 048: The Black Angels, Happyness, King Ayisoba…

live pix PL- Szczecin, Kana Teatr MARCH 18th 2017

photography by Michal Mojtarowicz

thanks to a fantastic audience listening to my first full length concert in Poland … i was very happy and touched by the intimacy of the theatre’s atmosphere! thanks to everyone at Kana and Dialog Perspektiven for supporting me and making it happen…

Don’t try to be live (beat version)

here’s a 360 ° livevideo take of „Don’t try to be“ in a version with Christian Grochau on the drumset…please use the direction arrows to change position of view…you will find chris and me playing by pressing these buttons… (will not be supported in safari though)

new shows with Anne Mueller and Sebastian Reynolds

i’ll play two concerts with cellist Anne Mueller and pianist Sebastian Reynolds in February 2017  :

06.02.17 BERLIN, Roter Salon  tickets

18.02.17 HANNOVER, Feinkostlampe , tickets at the door

last show in 2016

saturday 26th of November , 10 pm we will play a duo concert in

Dresden @Europäisches Zentrum der Künste Hellerau