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David Jackman, "Herbstsonne"

cover image Always enigmatic, the latest work from David Jackman is a single 47 minute piece that, for some reason, has been issued under his own name rather than Organum. I have never been clear as to what determines the name that will go on the record, and this is the first Jackman release since a split 7" (with Organum) in 2005. Additionally, the overall feel of the piece is distinct, but not far removed from the Amen/Sanctus/Omega trilogy from 2006-2007. Deliberately minimalist in arrangement, but with an unquestionable dedication to the finest detail of sounds, it is another work of fascinating beauty by the legendary artist.

Die Stadt

Herbstsonne (german for Auutum Sun) is a sparse composition, recorded only using tanpura, piano, organ, and bells, and is performed rather deliberately, with Jackman leaving long, open spaces between the sounds of each instrument.On the whole the piece features recurring themes:the tanpura and organ being used to create expansive tones, with the bells scattered throughout.The piano tends to appear in heavy, loud outbursts of single chords, sometimes jarring in volume but complementing everything else perfectly.

There may not be an immediate sense of complexity to Herbstsonne, but Jackman's arrangement does an amazing job at highlighting the minute details of each instrument.The metallic twang of the tanpura expands into space, blended with the sustained organ sounds.There is little in the way of effects or treatment to the sound; I only hear reverb which may just be part of the actual recording, so there is a distinct purity in sound.Some subtle panning adds some dynamics to the recording, but on its own it still sounds amazing.The same goes for the bells, which echo out beautiful in each and every appearance they make.

I could not help but be reminded of the Amen trilogy in both the simple arrangements and the precise detail in each instrument, but there is a different mood here.That amazing trilogy, while not explicitly religious or spiritual in nature, did have a sensibility rooted in ancient holy music, presented in a very abstract setting.There does not seem to be that same underlying feel here, and is instead one that seems more rooted in nature itself.Autumn sun is a fitting title, because there is a sense of warmth from the tonal passages and the occasional chill of bells or abrupt piano chord that heralds the coming of winter.

With constant Internet speculation that each new release may be his last, I always feel a surge of excitement when a new Organum or David Jackman release is announced, and Herbstsonne did not disappoint.With a casual listen this may seem like a simple piece, but like all of Jackman's work, the attention to detail he works into the recording is apparent with intent listening and makes for some of the most engrossing music I have heard all year.