If we drew up a ‘Recommender Charter’, the first thing on the list would be ‘The Right To Be Very Picky’. We’re known for being a selective bunch, who deliberately stand as a filter between all the new emerging music and the wider public. Our main aim is to deliver quality cutting edge music that we believe has true potential and that should have a broad appeal. It’s our modus operandi. It’s part of our service. This leads to us covering a lot of the obvious genres, but away from the mass market appeal there’s still some extraordinary artists that also deserve coverage. It’s all very well being the next big thing in pop, but the real evolution in music happens at it’s sharpest edges. Today we want to point out an artist who is pushing those exact boundaries.
Bernholz is an experimentalist musician who first met us back in May, at this year’s Great Escape Festival. He popped into a bloggers meetup we had organised at a local pub and handed us his CD, which immediately and rather unfortunately found itself joining up with all the other CDs piled upon our cluttered desk back home. Eventually we got around to listening to it and rather dismissively decided not to write it up. We did mention that we were picky, right? The whole thing was a collection of sounds, some of appalling quality, having obviously been recorded at home, but unknown to us this was the first steps of an emerging artist that’s turned into something altogether more interesting. That can often be the problem with running a blog covering very new music, you have to root among the chrysalis’ and predict the butterflies. We don’t always get it right.
He had given us his unofficial album, Consequences, which he’d released back in May. It was described as a mini-album, although it contained nine tracks, but rather than it being a full piece of work it was more a collection of reel-to-reel, four-track and digitally created ambient sounds. A place in which he’d been laying down ideas and experimental processes. It wasn’t entirely un-listenable, but it meandered nowhere, seeming rather self-indulgent, because, well, ultimately that’s exactly what it was – an experimental artist indulging himself. It’s here that our interest hit the pause button, but what Bernholz – real name Jez Bern – was to do was to then go away and return with some new songs that had taken something useful from the earlier lessons.
He’s now back and all set to release his début single proper, Austerity Boy, which has turned so many corners since those initial tracks that it’s unlikely to ever find it’s way back to those early tests. It’s coming out on the Anti-Ghost Moon Ray blog/label, which is an exciting Brighton-based collective which counts artists such as Gazelle Twin, The Enormous Shadow and Duke Raoul among their team members. Perhaps Blessing Force better look out? Collectives are a sure-fire way to start up the A&R engines these days it seems. Jez’s music is perhaps the most un-restricted of the bunch, but perfectly suiting an underground collective, almost feeling like it’s been designed in the Kunsthaus Tacheles, with it’s industrial, Berlin-esque qualities.
The single sets your heart-racing from the outset, but it turns out to be a marathon of a song, building up patiently, but it has an excellent thread of tension running throughout. It reminds us of Recommender favourites, Clock Opera, and his fearless approach to song construction – very alternative, but blindingly good. Jez has introduced vocals too, which reward by giving an arc to the song’s story, which was perhaps an element that was lacking in all the other music we’d heard to date. It’s still in need of some polish and it won’t ever top the popular charts, but it feels different and creative and exciting, and that’s just as hard as penning a mass-market hit. It’s released digitally on November 28th and the début album, How Things Are Made, is scheduled for the summer of 2012. In the same way the ideas on the catwalk influence the high street, here’s hoping that the path from Bernholz’s first recordings, through his first single, to the eventual release of the début album, could end by revealing the most beautiful of butterflies. (MB)
BERNHOLZ – AUSTERITY BOY
BERNHOLZ – WHERE OR WHEN