Mixed and mastered by Ian Boddy, 12/2006 - 02/2007|
- Virupaksha [8:00]
- Bowed visions [8:12]
- Conundrum [9:21]
- Phased realities [5:55]
- Swarmandel [10:07]
- Flavia's paradise [6:40]
- Moonlit [8:17]
Composed by Wöstheinrich/Hoffmann-Hoock/Reuter
Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock - electric guitars, electric sitar
Bernhard Wöstheinrich - synthesizers, sequencing
Markus Reuter & Ian Boddy - drum programming & additional sequences
Markus Reuter - guitar bellscape on track 6
SiRenee - vocals on track 3
Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock, the mastermind behind successful music projects like MIND OVER MATTER & COSMIC HOFFMANN, and Bernhard Wöstheinrich, who, being 'THE REDUNDANT ROCKER' himself, is a member of the bands CENTROZOON and SUBSONIC EXPERIENCE.
Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock's musical roots go back to the late sixties when he started playing the lead guitar in several progressive rock bands. Being deeply inspired by the early Psychedelia and its Asian-influenced tunes he soon discovered India and Asia as his 'second home'. When he purchased his first Minimoog in 1974 together with the ultimate 70s' dream machine, a Mellotron, completely new musical horizons were opened up resulting in to date sixteen CDs, four DVD productions, hundreds of live performances and dozens of collaborations with various artists. While his main instrument stays his old Gibson ES 335 guitar, Klaus is still eager to master modern technologies and to create new music machines like the MEMOTRON, a digital Mellotron, where he provided the know-how and compiled its complete library from his vast Mellotron sound collection.
Bernhard Wöstheinrich studied the arts and worked on a number of art projects which included film, performance art, painting and last but not least, the band SUBSONIC EXPERIENCE which later became CENTROZOON. A painter and graphic designer in addition to being a musician, Bernhard creates music that combines the complexity of sound synthesis and effects processing with the spontaneity of improvisation and intuitive actions. Using a compositional approach akin to his work as a visual artist, Bernhard begins by improvising abstract sonic structures which are subsequently developed into an increasingly detailed aural picture.
CONUNDRUM, their first cooperation, merges Klaus' spaceguitar and Asian-spiced electric sitar with Bernhard's wizardry in creating synthetic pads and tonal shades with his synthesizers and sequencers. The sound from the original, improvised recording sessions was further shaped by Markus Reuter, and the final mixing duties fell to Ian Boddy.
The resulting album is a mesmerising mix of glissando guitar melodies, sequencing & percusssion loops and deep ambient backdrops.
2007. Press Information
Further to the publication of my review on the album Trance'n'Dance from Mind Over Matter, I received an e-mail from my good friend Bernhard Wöstheinrich who was wondering if I was willing to talk about his collaboration project with Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock and the album “Conundrum”. The title reminded me vaguely something. Having searched my archives I finally noticed that I had talked about this album some very long time ago. Here is of what it returned. Resurrection of a review and a music that I had forgotten in the corridors of time.
With the multiple carillons which resound, we are expecting a very ethereal moment, even pious, while that a nervous bass line and agile bouncy sequences forge a structure of rhythm as much elusive as the murmurs which flitter around it. Fluid and well sat on these elements a bit funky, while being well pounded by flexible percussions, "Virupaksha" skips in its psychedelic plumage on a provocative beat, on a kind of dance music. Between a morphic techno and a spatial disco, the tempo is flavored by psybient elements and by uncountable synth strata, by electric guitars and sitars of which the evanescent harmonies coil up over percussions and sequences which weigh down gradually the pace. Although relatively discreet, the squeakings of the guitar obsess the senses. And this will be like that all around “Conundrum”. Although the album is not explosive just as much, the duet Hoffmann-Hoock/Wöstheinrich, flanked by Markus Reuter and Ian Boddy on percussions programming and the sequencing, dives at the heart of an ethnic riddle by exploiting the floating, the celestial and almost vampiric layers from guitars and sitars over movements built around progressive and moderate rhythms. The mixture brings the listener to the borders of a psychedelic work with ambiospherical elements which get closer to Indian tribal essences.
It's moreover a tearful guitar strata which opens the rather celestial atmospheres of "Bowed Visions". Strata which multiplies its shadows. These make glitter some dense shrill lines, and others more felted, which intertwine in a huge ambient sonic magma. A rhythmic structure emerges a little after the 3rd minute. Delicate, it scampers like a soft ballad without stories. The title-track exploits a little bit the same vision with an intro where the tears of stringed instruments get mixed in the hubbub of the synth pads to the colors of nothingness and the rustles of an astral voice to the ethnic breaths. A beautiful intro, very ambiospherical, which serves as starter to a very beautiful rhythmic phase which explodes a little after the 4th minute. Lively and a bit jerky, it gallops a little more than it scampers with a beautiful meshing of bass sequences and percussions of which the subtle swiftness eats up downright the listening. It's very beautiful, very intrusive and the guitar of Hoffmann-Hoock chews on its rhythm and its ambiences, while "Conundrum" becomes more and more fluid. I smell through this track some elements which would have influenced the madness of Thorsten Quaeschning and his guitar in the superb Utopia from Bernd Kistenmacher. It's a solid and very beautiful piece of music. "Phased Realities" bites our ears with a bass line filled of gurgling chords. The rhythm is suspended and sneaky. It's snatched up by percussions and tickled by the elytrons of cymbals. We enter the lands of electronica with electronic percussions which clink and spin around a Groove movement decorated with a mixture of synth and guitar layers from which the slow harmonies weave psy-soundscapes. Some warm synth pads (or is it guitar?) are stuffing the very ambient intro of "Swarmandel". We hear pulsations to stir up a rebellion, as well as electronic hiatus which reveal the celestial harmonies of an esoteric guitar. The rhythm is dozing and is snoring. It rebels a litt le after the 3 minutes spot, either after the last tickles from Hoffmann-Hoock's six-strings. It sparkles and skips with nervousness, guiding the pace of an up-beat without gravity which goes, dies out and gets back in the oscillations of a bass line and of the dislocated serpentines of an ethereal guitar. This structure of rhythm linked between semi-ambient phases finds also its niche on "Flavia's Paradise" with movements of bass which waves with strength before sneaking under clouds of perfumed sibylline ambiences drawn by a six-strings and synths. There is a ceaseless noise over this track as well as some beautiful more ethereal passages. Moments decorated of chirping and of tears of a guitar which remind us the psychedelic essence of “Conundrum”. "Moonlit" ends this eclectic accord between both universes of Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock and Bernhard Wöstheinrich with an ambient track where the guitar of KHH lets float some mourners harmonies in winds filled of sonic particles from Wösthe inrich's synth.
“Conundrum” is within the spirit of the DiN label. It's an album with some tasty heterogeneous and experimental essences well served by rhythms which touch by the tip of their sequences, their bass lines and of their percussions the lands of electronica. Therefore, there is a beautiful mixture between these rhythms and of rich ambiences sewn with a fascinating obsession to make it quite difficult to be tamed. It's exactly the principle of a riddle. It pricks the curiosity. It becomes obsessive. And we eventually end by finding answers. Here, these answers find the shape of a music of which the borders always define themselves a little better in each new listening. You should not forget that we are in 2007. I underline this fact because we hear here and there elements which seems to us familiar, in particular in the universe of the psybient and of tribal ambient, demonstrating the rather avant-gardist approach of this duet rather eclectic.
2015. Sylvain Lupari / gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca
This release, is by a super duo composed of the Dutch master of guitar, sitar and "Memotron" (a digital Mellotron) who has done some incredible work the past 20 years under the name Mind Over Matter and Cosmic Hoffmann. He’s joined by a German artist/ synthesist extraordinaire who has participated in some amazing synthetic projects like Centrozoon and Subsonic Experience.
The resulting album is an amazing distillation of cosmic Eastern mantra and dark electronic impressionism. The music ebbs, flows and is inhabited by a host of warm, mysterious, powerful sonic spirits that will capture your imagination and offer endless listening pleasure.
Two musicians who have their own musical projects and other collaborations have come together for the first time. Conundrum was initially created from improvisational sessions and then subsequently finished by Markus Reuter who did the arrangement and added loops and layers. Ian Boddy (founder of the DiN label) also has an input with Markus on drum programming and additional sequences.
Most of the tracks are structured to have rhythmic sections preceded by an atmospheric ambient mood. This becomes obvious in the second track "Bowed Visions". Haunting tones stretch out across the soundscape; the textures -- clouded quasi-industrial in the background -- and ethereal humming vocals creating a slow motion vision of a distant Asian city. Eventually a kind of squiggly rhythm comes in, gradually building in pace while electric guitar sounds sear hither and thither.
Hoffmann-Hoock is known for his Asian flavoured music, especially under his Mind Over Matter recording name, and recently on Visions of Asia which was a collaboration with Peter Mergener. This sonic flavor is most noticeable on the title track "Conundrum". Metallic and otherworldly drones skate about each other, eventually to be joined by wordless vocals (performed by SiRenee) quivering and "ahhing" like an intimate prayer calling to the Gods. Then a rhythm with an Indian style groove and sound starts up along with brushy percussion, elongated sitar-esque tones quickly snaking across the soundscape, and assorted effects. For me this is the best track.
Bringing things to a close is the flowing piece "Moonlit". A mix of drones and pads slowly shift as though we're moving over a dimly – moonlit – landscape, and in places sparing notes form a nascent melody or just add richness. Here the music hints at various moods from quiet contemplation to lament in a fitting end to the album.
After an uninspiring start in the first track, Conundrum begins to slowly entrance the listener. Sonically and atmospherically it's a beguiling work that needs repeated listening sessions for all its secrets to be unravelled.
This release from 2007 offers 57 minutes of dreamy electronic music.
This recording unites two notable artists: Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock (from Mind over Matter and Cosmic Hoffmann) on guitar and electric sitar, and Bernhard Wöstheinrich (from Centrazoon and Subsonic Experience) on synthesizers and sequencing. Joining them are: Ian Boddy and Marcus Reuter (on drum programming and additional sequences, with Reuter providing guitar bellscape on one track), and SiRenee (on vocals on one track).
Initially, luxurious passages of softly grinding electronics are given tasty propulsion by undulant rhythms. Guitar effects ooze through the mix like expressive honey.
With the second track, the guitar comes forward to generate a celestial disposition with fluently bowed sustains. Rising to assist, insectoid electronics and chugging tempos inspire the guitar to adopt even more cosmic definition.
Airy tonalities provide the title song with a calming foundation in support of dreamily treated vocal effects that spiral through the harmonics. Percussives emerge, flavored eastern to enhance the song's lazy dervish.
Track four utilizes hesitant rhythms in conjunction with electronic drones to achieve a state of frozen transition, as if a traveler has become trapped half in one world, half in another. Passage through these pandimensional barriers becomes possible through the introduction of seemingly erratic guitar effects that eventually coalesce into stratospheric chords.
The next piece begins with a gentle soundscape of twinkling notes adrift in a pool of tenuous tonalities. Snappy tempos arrive, accompanied by chugging electronics. The pace remains relaxed, but the audience is teased with a touch of intensity that playfully remains in the future tense.
Track six layers some almost conventional guitar sounds with a pastoral atmosphere of fragile electronics, producing a soundscape of dreamy scope.
The last piece has a decidedly twilight mood to it, with elongated guitar notes floating in clouds of shimmering tones.
The general nature of these compositions is ambient. Slight touches of pep are deceptive, for while hinting at activity, they remain understated, communicating a subliminally energized state.
Matt Howarth / Soniccuriosity
Good collaborations can bring out latent voices. On Conundrum (56'43") the duo of Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock and Bernhard Wostheinrich speak in a language of unexpected affinities and easily traced influences. For Hoffmann-Hoock it is Eastern thought and 60s psychedelia while technology and abstract expressionism inform Wostheinrich's contributions.
Working together on Conundrum the duo manages to combine their individual musical traits into a cohesive sonic statement. Electronic beats, pops and squeaks drop in hard, then relax beneath ethereal guitar leads. The cerebral energy of the rhythms activates the mind as languid melodies play to the heart. Prog-Rock influences inundate Hoffmann-Hoock's guitar riffs. Drifting glissando clouds, slow E-bow solos, breathing chords and straight-ahead liquid leads flow amidst Wostheinrich's electronica flare. With their hot beats and cool guitar this duo conjures up multi-faceted inventions both cosmically abstract and molecularly detailed.
2007. Chuck van Zyl / Star's End
A perennial favorite of mine, Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock, has teamed up with DiN label musician Bernhard Wöstheinrich to create some first-rate electronic music. The very spacey retro passages, scintillating guitars, and ethnic touches from Hoffmann-Hoock are apparent throughout; to them Wöstheinrich adds his technical wizardry, modern electronica elements with an emphasis on the rhythmic component. The end result transcends genres and simply makes good music.
Wöstheinrich’s influence is felt early on "Virupaksha", as a cool bubbly bass sequence and punchy rhythms appear within the first minute. The atmospheric sounds swirling about are trademark COSMIC HOFFMANN. These contrasting musical elements fuse together into a heady brew that cooks right along.
"Bowed Visions" mellows things out considerably, focusing on dreamy guitar soundscapes until a slow easygoing bass line picks things up a bit. The disc has a very fluid feel throughout, perhaps best exemplified here.
Klaus likes his eastern influences, appearing on the title track in the form of ethnic percussion and a small dose of female vocals. With its pensive faraway quality, this could easily pass for a MIND OVER MATTER track.
Wöstheinrich gets to show off his talents on the quirky "Phased Realities", a piece firmly rooted in modern electronica rather than retro.
Though different in character it manages to fit in to the overall theme, demonstrating the symbiotic relationship between these two gifted musicians.
Conundrum is one of 2007’s best.
2007. Phil Derby / Electroambient Space