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Martin Kälberer


Baltasound is the largest town on the Scottish island of Unst. In addition to the burnt graves from the Bronze Age, the sights include an unusually luxurious bus shelter. The hotel is the northernmost of the United Kingdom, there is also a pub, post office, school, church, a few houses and recreational facilities, plus a weather station and a small airport. Years ago, the fishermen romped there, as plenty of herring from the Atlantic were caught, later the place was important in for the oil industry. Baltasound has since fallen asleep. Despite a few people, it is a symbol of loneliness, but also of openness, of the open view. The signage of the album cover therefore does not lead to a lost post, but towards an inspirational space, which challenges its design by its sparse nature. It's about the world in the background, the sound that leads away from the normality of stimulus.

And so it was far out there in which after awhile, Martin Kälberer found the slowing down of the impressions a challenge. Accustomed to having all the possibilities in his studio in Chiemgau to capture music from the moment of inspiration, the songs of "Baltasound" emerged in other ways. In Kälberer's camper, the only instrument to be found was the Hang, that pristine percussion alien with the spherical sound, with which to improvise a bit. Apart from that, he took notes, captured pictures of moods or rhythmic patterns that came to mind. The raw material of the impressions then condensed themselves into a compositional process that spanned an acoustic arc over ten chapters. He was less concerned with the image of actual events. Only the title "Red Sky" refers to a specific evening, when the impressive red of the sun endlessly tinged the heavens. The compositions are otherwise rather philosophical in sound, remarking on topics such as time and expanse, rhythm and harmony.

It was recorded then, in the autumn of 2017, in Kälberer's studio. He did most of the work himself, cellist Fanny Kammerlander was included as a guest, as well as the flugelhorn player Reinhard Greiner, also performing to one piece each were the bassist, Alex Klier, and Werner Schmidbauer as guitarist. It was important that most of the instruments sounded like real instruments, not copies from the computer.

Ever since the years when Martin Kälberer produced a lot of music for film and television, where he had to fall back on mostly synthetic sound production for reasons of effectiveness, he developed a fondness for self-made music. "If I wanted to hear a gong, then I wanted to play it too," he remembers these never-ending phases of learning, which ensured that he discover alongside the instruments of his childhood, the mandolin and the piano, during his teenage and college years in the Jazz department at The Academy of Music Graz, he also explored the accordion and various string and percussion instruments.

Already on previous solo projects such as "Between The Horizon" (2010), "Goya" (2013), "Suono" (2015) and "morgenland" (2016), it was quite important to him, to as comprehensively as possible be responsible for the generation of the sounds himself.  "Baltasound" refines this approach to the all encompassing compositional moment, that holds the music together beyond the individual pieces: "Let's see where this leads me! I think that I was looking for myself a bit on past albums. I worked a lot with improvisation, let it flow. This was a real compositional process in which my own style was created. I would like to reach the normal music lover, not make especially complex music.” For this reason, Martin Kälberer has driven to the end of the world and back, to elicit the vibes of loneliness from the fine and profound sound of a Globetrotter of music.

What connects you to Scotland?

For ten years now, I have been traveling to this region on a regular basis, to the Hebrides, because it’s barrenness fascinates me. In the bus with a tent, the rougher the better. The instruments stay at home, the hang is the only thing I generally have with me. I'm just trying to rest.

So, no music?

There are still such wonderful customs there. For example, when you go to a pub, sometimes there is someone sitting in a corner playing the fiddle. I enjoy listening to something like that. But what it is mainly about for me, is to become empty again. This is an effect that takes a few weeks to set in. I often have some sort of productions taking place in the summer, and am constantly sitting in the studio. It takes ages for me to get all those bits of melody out of my head. Listening to this void and observing what it wants to create, is exciting.

Exciting enough, that something new was created ...

When I was in the Shetlands last year, that was especially true. There was a sound that suggested itself, nothing concrete yet, it was more of an idea. I followed it up and wanted to translate it into real music. Especially because I had been searching for something. Last year, after 22 years, I stopped playing with Werner Schmidbauer. I thought: now something new can begin! Do more of my own projects! But first I had to discover what it was that could inspire me. I produced several pieces, listened to them and found that I had already done similar things. This bored me, I was lacking in vigor. It took me a year to have the confidence, to finish a project again.


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