format: digital artist album
release date: september 28, 2009
distributed by nonine recordings
01 and part 01 - pressure
02 and part 02 - temperature
03 and part 03 - vibration
04 and part 04 - moisture
05 and part 05 - texture
all tracks written, produced and mixed by me raabenstein,
additional cellos and organs on track 02, 03 and 05 by greg haines,
extended mastering by andreas koslik
where would we be without our hands? our lives are so full of commonplace experience in which the hands are so skillfully and silently involved that we rarely consider how dependent upon them we actually are, upon this ability to change the world simply by realizing that underlying language, intellect, and intelligence is the understanding that comes from hands on experience.
the hand is, among other things, a complex symbol, representing both the creative and the prosaic. this blending of the spiritual and the mundane is what makes the hand unique, as it in turn makes us unique among animals, finding and creating meaning in our lives. brain and hand accommodate each other, discover tools and language together, kicking us out of the monkey house for good.
while there is still controversy over whether we are the brainiest animals on the planet, it is abundantly clear that we are the handiest. this manipulative ability is our greatest strength and our most terrible flaw. without hands we would have no louvre but also no guns. our access to far greater means to achieve our ends gives us a greater hunger for meaning. we long to use our hands to satisfy our needs, whether spiritual or down-to-earth. this creation of meaning from nothing may be our greatest achievement. the hand is more than a metaphor of humanness. it is a focal point in the fulfillment of life, in our cognitive architecture, representing our chance to put our stamp on the world.
slowcream’s third album ‚and’ is a five part oevre, appreciating this organ of manipulation and sensation, a forty minutes reflection on our digits. the fingertips possess the highest concentration of receptors among all areas of the human skin, making them extremely sensitive to pressure, temperature, vibration, moisture, and texture. basically started as a commission for a modern dance project, ‚and’ processes a vivid digression of drama and relief, a sensuous clash of our hands’ daily climax. coming more from a club than a classical music background me raabenstein aka slowcream touches distinct terrain, fusing symphonic motives with condensed minimal electronica and the passionate live improvisations of cellist greg haines.
in my time-honoured listening practice i have encountered a lot of musicians using sampling to construct their works. some of them brilliant, the large part unmemorable. well, listen to what your mature brother is going to tell now: me raabenstein – the berlin-based artist who published this masterwork under the slowcream nickname – might be one of the finest assemblers of orchestral snippets and concrete materials ever heard by this appraiser. and is spinning endlessly, never ceasing to amaze with its magnificence, exactness and intelligence. it’s been two days, and nothing else was accepted as the house’s soundtrack.
what started as a commission from an unspecified modern dance project has developed into five tracks of impeccably constructed bionic creations, pieces where a mood – usually quite dramatic – is immediately established with just a couple of touches. from there, the music evolves without looking back: either looped or seamed in diverse permutations these fragments leave enraptured, halfway through a desolate sense of broken-heartedness and the awe that children feel during the first evening at the auditorium with their parents. there’s something in slowcream’s approach that renders the whole event majestic, minus the pomposity. overwhelmingly simple, one would say, with peculiarly resounding reverberations and occasional dissonant factors that add to the mystery.
the samples are meshed with live improvisation, the culprit being greg haines who adds cellos and organs in three episodes. his suggestive contributions provide the definitive coup de grace for any latent resistance, adding a dose of ambiguity to atmospheres solemn enough to cause the rational activity to completely stop, in order to focus to the acoustic intensification. in particular, “moisture” – built upon a pizzicato background – elicits unspeakable memories via the juxtaposition of a hummed low-register melody amidst marvellous string glissandos and sparse hints to pianistic moderation. this discipline of the unexpected is signified by compositional shapes that may give the impression of typicality at the outset but, on the contrary, represent splendidly amorphous examples of cut’n’paste creativity. the entire album is replete with this kind of sensibility, the attention to every detail perceptible in each of its 40 minutes, the emotional level always high.
i had not met slowcream until yesterday, yet i am willing to bet that as soon as your copy of 'and' starts spraying these substances in the room you’ll be instantly hooked. this is an extraordinary release which will appeal to open-minded classical lovers, minimalism, sampladelia and – in general - those who are able to distinguish a serious craftsman from a dabbler right away. no reason exists to miss it.
massimo ricci, touching extremes, italy 03/10
not a lot of electronics on this record, it sounds like. no problem. modern composition is by turns invigorating and exasperating, usually the the oeuvre of each artist (take xenakis, for example). slowcream sound like they're doing the cliched 'soundtrack for imaginary film', which usually means interesting fragments of songs, but no songs. not the case here. slowcream understand song form and are merely using classical instruments to achieve their sound...
jericho maxim, igloo magazine, usa 01/10
its not often these days to be handed an album and have absolutely no prior expectations or opinions. slowcream? unusual name with killer minimal artwork and a one sheet that rhymes on the complexities and symbolic nature of ones' hands. 'and' is a beautiful hazy, blissed-out album where wandering violins weave in and out of cosmically stoned synths. slowcream's me raabenstien's subtle yet delicate melodies and meandering vocals complete this 5 part oevre where modern electronica meets the classical ideals of yore. if this is where 'classical' music is headed - sign me up!!! look at these hands! 7/10
darryl norsen, foxy digitalis, usa 11/09
'and' è invece il conciso titolo del terzo album a sigla slowcream del berlinese me raabenstein. l'abusato binomio di ambient ed elettronica trova originale declinazione in questa suite in cinque fasi, commissionata per un balletto, che ha per tema l'espressività delle mani. l'approccio quasi sinfonico dell'autore nello stratificare rumori, piano e delicati soundscape è rafforzato dal violoncello dell'improvvisatore greg haines, con richiami neoclassici ma spirito del tutto contemporaneo.
vittore baroni, rumore, italy 11/09
de l'electronica savante, qui n'hesite pas à flirter avec la musique improviseé et le jazz...
musique et cultures digitales, france 11/09
slowcream's drittes album 'and' arbeitet im weitläufigen grenzland zwischen neuer musik und avancierter ambient elektronik. vor allem die cinematographischen klang-melodie-konfigurationen erinnern von ihrer umherschweifenden dramaturgie eher an düstere, atmosphärische ambient gebilde, während das instrumentarium und der gestus stark klassisch dominiert ist. dieses klaustrophobische ungetüm ist so etwas wie post-avantgarde - die konzeptuellen öffnungen neuer musik sind grossteils zu gunsten von einfachen strukturen und einer klassisch dissonanten harmonie zurückgenommen. 'and' ist also weder fisch noch octopus und überzeugt trotzdem durch die suggestive kraft dieser ungeheuerlichen sound-kraterlandschaften. 6/10
stefan niederwieser, the gap, austria 10/09
if any album could faithfully represent a unique psychedelic styled explosion, this is surely one for the top slot. with a dynamic blend of the extravagant experimental, consisting mainly of traditional classical components, it paves the way for an excursion that edges on the wild side. fusing some passionate improvisation, the carefully crafted articulate forms make up a magnificent five part oeuvre that is based heavily on atmospheric concepts; note titles such as "temperature," "vibration," "pressure," "texture" and "moisture." the placement of each instrumental component allows effective communication to all the senses, each track providing lengthy indulgence. "pressure" contains gentle tuneful chimes, the dissonant injection of brass supports an adventurous diversion from normality in a very soundtrack orientated way. the definite and defined steps of "temperature" feed enquiring minds with soft hearted tone; the strings allowing their additional textures to flood across all registers, giving an edgy build up to the intense heights of its brief piano encounter.
emotionally charged violin sounds prevail with "texture," their resonance swimming gracefully through the track. the dramatic waypoints are somehow reached without intrusion into the overall chilled vibrations of the record. all the sounds sit nicely alongside each other, and complement the subtle introductions of various orchestral families. "vibration" lends itself a haunting introduction that develops in both a catchy and alluring way; the strings offering the highest definition of such splendour as it drives from beneath its vast beauty.
'and' is an abstract scene; an orchestral art form given life with just the smallest and most subtle clashes of colour and showcasing some ripened objects of beauty. the additions, no matter how delicate, are often bright, and spark a certain power with their presence and individuality. 'and' is perhaps the result of some gracious permission to present the orchestral in an alternative light.
jus forrest, igloomag, usa 10/09
five pieces by berlin’s me raabenstein which embark on a celebration, if you like, of the hand, in all respects from our physical dependency on it to its use as a symbol or metaphor, and everything in between. beginning as a commission for a contemporary dance project, slowcream’s third album stretches for around forty minutes and generally sways gently over a filmic hue imbued with a soft electronica approach itself augmented with strings and extra cellos and organs on three of the cuts improvised live by greg haines. whilst the temperament remains refined throughout, some foothills at least take shape at certain points, adding an appropriate sense of subtle drama to the proceedings that sensitively reflect titles such as ‚pressure’, ‚vibration’ and ‚moisture’. what with melodic keys likewise breaking through the symphonies at various junctures, it all feels like me raabenstein’s background in club music is ultimately shaking itself away into pastures more serious yet not so sober it may alienate previous listeners. I’ll resist the urge to round this off by saying we’ve either got to hand it to him or must give him a big hand. instead, i implore you to listen to this incredible addition to a canon of work by a mere handful (sorry !) of contemporary artists whose vision rests outside the usual parameters.
richard johnson, fourth dimension, poland 10/09
‚and’ strikes me as being the most successfully-realized slowcream collection to date, with its five parts functioning as connecting movements within a grand orchestral scheme devised by me raabenstein. the berlin-based composer uses the human hand as a conceptual springboard for his third full-length in specifically focusing on the hand's status as an organ of manipulation and sensation (the track titles thus refer to the fingertips' receptors' sensitivity to pressure, temperature, vibraion, moisture, and texture). in general terms, ‚ and’, which originated as a commission for a modern dance project, is a disturbing symphonic work that's like a forty-minute-long nightmare transcribed into aural form. one presumes that raabenstein stitched the material together from classical samples but the elements are so seamlessly woven together little evidence remains of their sampled origins.
emerging from silence in a swirling undertow of nightmarish strings and plummeting horn figures, “pressure” layers ominous string and braying horn melodies across a slow death march rhythm. a similarly brooding ambiance permeates the second part, where raabenstein subtly adds electronic treatments to the menacing mix of piano and sickly strings. the third part, “vibration,” initially alleviates some of the tension but gradually plunges headlong into an underground torture chamber of its own cryptic design where it remains until the tortuous closing moments of the final part, “texture.” major major, whose speaking voice appears on ‚live long and prosper's “suburb novel” and a number of tracks on 2009's ‚ wax on wool’, is thankfully absent this time around; in place of the too-particularizing effect spoken word brings, ‚ and's dramatic intensity is bolstered by the contributions of guest soloist greg haines who adds cello and organ to three of the album's five pieces.
unlike someone such as murcof, say, who underlays brooding classical music-based material with electronic beats, raabenstein eschews blatant dance music-related rhythms altogether (the closest thing to a regulated rhythm is the dragging pattern that crawls alongside the strings in “moisture”). such a choice might render ‚and’less accessible by comparison, but it ultimately gives the slowcream material more integrity; in short, ‚ and’doesn't compromise in its embrace of a classical style and is all the better for it.
ron schepper, textura, canada 10/09
nato come opera commissionata per un balletto di danza moderna, 'and' è in realità un concept album centrato sul valore simbolico e creativo delle mani, parte anatomica che l'autore interpreta come metafora dell'essere umano. il lavoro si sviluppa in cinque micro-sinfonie dal sapore classico/contemporaneo in gran parte strutturate attraverso l'assemblagio di samplers e strumenti acustici, che indugiano su toni cupi avvolti da un velo di mistero. frutto del compositore berlinese me raabenstein, questa esplorazione del potere sensoriale della mano (qui sottoposta a diverse immaginarie sollecitazioni: pressure, temperature, vibration, moisture, texture), regala impressioni intense e momenti di suono ispirato. (6/7)
massimiliano busti, blow up, italy 10/09
un album qui utilise des échantillons d'luvres classiques, de musique du monde et qui se révèle être une expérience sonore particulièrement vibrante et totalement envoutante.
eric serva, tapage nocturne, radio france musique 10/09
first things first, quindi, se vi sentite orfani di quell’elettronica ancora umana che partiva da una specie di melting pot di generi già esistenti per svilupparli con un nuovo tocco, se dj shadow, la compact, la k7, i massive attack, il trip hop, la anticon, murcof e roba del genere ha ripreso idee e generi già esistenti e dando loro una nuova veste che amavate, se nella ricerca del suono più cool secondo voi molta elettronica si sta disumanizzando ed infine se quello che interessa nella musica sono melodia, patos ed atmosfera: segnatevi il nome di quest’etichetta tedesca che si chiama nonine. molte delle uscite di questa label che si dedica principalmente a net-release di classe a, vedono coinvolto in prima persona quel me rabenstein che dell’etichetta è anche il fondatore ed il motore.
a seconda dei diversi progetti e dei diversi compagni di avventura questo berlinese sposta il suono verso e lo fa variare quel tanto che basta per giustificare il cambio di moniker, detto questo è anche vero che il ragazzo ha un suo stile ed un tocco notturno, elegante, delicato ed un gusto invidiabile. credo che slowcream ad ora sia il progetto che lo vede coinvolto che stia riscuotendo la maggiore attenzione, oltre ad aver già prodotto due ottimi dischi e ad avere questo ancora caldo di stampa, sono stati raccolti su uno splendido sempler uscito per la decca/universal insieme a gente del calibro di, philip glass, murcof, akira rebldes, gavin bryars, alva noto e ryuichi sakamoto tanto per citare i più conosciuti (odio le compilation ma questa è davvero piacevolissima). come lecito aspettarsi, vedendo i nomi del sampler nel quale sono stati inclusi, ci si può immaginare un disco di musica neo-classica e per quanto la cosa non sia sbagliata è giusta sol parzialmente.
certo, i fan di murcof ci si potrebbero buttare a pesce, ma il taglio di rabenstein è un po’ diverso, meno classico-contemporaneo, più cupo e nonostante questo per nulla pesante. le atmosfere di slowcream hanno sempre un taglio da locale 'by night' ed un’enfasi tutta filmica che non passano certo inosservati. oltre ai campioni, ai suoni ed ai beat, il ricco carnet degli ospiti e gli strumenti utilizzati la dicono lunga sulla produzione del lavoro e vi basti sapere che sono tutti dosati sempre con un certa raffinatezza fra melodie quasi classiche, folate quasi-ambientali e ghirigori cool-jazz che raffinano ulteriormente un prodotto già di livello. musica di classe e ricca di gusto e nonostante tutto molto melodica, cosa che non guasta per nulla, anzi.
andrea ferraris, sands-zine.com, italy 09/09
je viens de ravaler mes paroles. il y a quelque temps, j'ai chroniqué négativement un disque solo de me raabenstein, allant jusqu'à questionner le statut de ce pillier de la scène électronica berlinoise. et voilà que débarque ce superbe troisième album de slowcream, projet du même raabenstein. une musique pour une chorégraphie (c'est évident à l'écoute), fortement orchestrée (surtout des échantillons), gracieuse, vibrante, enveloppante. je pense au open close open de robert lippok, à olafur arnalds, à tibor szemzó même. il n'y pas plus de réelle distinction entre électronique ambiante et musique post-classique...
monsieurdelire.com, canada 09/09
artiesten halen hun inspiratie soms op de vreemdste plaatsen. zo ook de berlijner me raabenstein. hij bestudeerde zijn vingers en verwonderde zich over de 10 beste vrienden van de muzikant. hun gevoeligheden samenvattend in de titels 'pressure', 'temperature', 'vibration', 'moisture' en 'texture' leverde het hem voldoende stof voor een electro-akoestisch neoklassiek werkstuk. zijn vreemde orkestrale keyboardarrangementen werden door de elektronische mangel gehaald om vervolgens aangevuld te worden door het gestrijk van cellist greg haines. dit zorgt meer dan eens voor een dreigend resultaat, de betere horrorsoundtracks indachtig. vooral op 'moisture', met zijn vertraagde koorzang en staccato cello, komt één en ander op z'n muzikale climax. aan het einde krijgen we op 'texture' nog eens een volledig overzicht van de verschillende accenten van deze bevreemdende maar goede plaat. indien 'death in a snow leopard winter' van nature en organisation een stervende engel in de wintersneeuw was, dan is dit zijn moordenaar. duister en dreigend en van alle tierlantijntjes ontdaan.
jan denolet, darkentries.be, belgium 09/09
slowcream’s clever use of classical music and sounds melts them into a kind of pop formula, just like david sylvian did this in the mid-80s, for instance. then again, it is quite strange and unusual, almost experimental ambient music, often so-called pop-avant-garde. even today in this form slowcream is not far behind his denominators. the album is potable and warm, keeps its sphere accessible with mild and pleasant disturbances. ‚and’ has a flow and a surprisingly style change after his brilliant avant-garde album "wax on wool". with his rapid development according the previous album slowcream shows how to make a bright-eyed audience wonder. [1-10]: 8
horvi, terapija, croatia 09/09
me raabenstein aka slowcream is based in berlin artist who has a string of releases and compilation appearances, runs projects like brad and janet, rael, and sqaramouche among others and is head of nonine recordings. on “and” slowcream blends classical music, electronic and experimental and it has the collaboration of greg haines with his live improvisations on cello. “and” consists in five parts regarding different aspects such as pressure, temperature, moisture, and vibration and texture. “moisture” delivers a drama feeling with its single cello sharp notes and a mysterious ambience around. this five pieces are the perfect soundtrack for a thrilling film (me raabenstein has a filmmakers and painters background), plus the pristine minimal electronics that offers a very delicate sound indeed.
guillermo escudero, loop,cl chile 09/09
very cinematic and eclectic as usual. some very peaceful and relaxing moments suddenly broken by deep dark atmospheres like calm sea waves unexpectly turning rough. great stuff, very artistic and professional! to listen though headphones while sitting on a comfortable sopha by running behind your own thoughts. congratulations!!
emanuele errante, naples, italy
dan crossley, fluid radio, uk
the tunes have cinematic quality...
dj velanche, the urban landscape radioshow, usa
excellent work! dark and intense - enjoying the journey!
harold nono, edinburgh, uk
'and' is my absolute favourite. tremendous work here... great tension, beautiful colors, weird, complex structures, a journey for the ear... this is way up my street.
kreng, bruxelles, belgium
oh...my...goodness.... probably the most wonderful music i've heard since years. dont know what to say, im just completely speechless...
chukimai, rotterdam, netherlands
schön arrangierte stücke! das ist das beste album das ich bisher von slowcream gehört habe.
ephraim wegner, radio dreyeckland, germany
'and' sounds like the alternative soundtrack to the dark knight or something, the anti zimmer syndrome. i do like the orchestral swishes and crecendos, sounds like one synphony in 5 parts, just as it should be. the tension and release in part 5 is just sublime, almost orgasmic. the synopsis for the album is intriguing, the interpretations are very intellectual.
dov waterman, london
das ist ja wirklich großes kino an musik.
diethelm kröhl, babsies diktatur, germany
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