It starts almost unnoticed, with a barely audible white noise reminiscing the sound of a distant beach. But slowly the intensity increases and the waves become a surge. Pushed up and forward by the drone sounds that gradually take over, sometimes with a thundering mass of sub-low bass, at other moments sounding like a distant choir. A drone in constant movement. The 58 minute Surge “is based on textural developments that evolve very slowly over time.” “Most processes in nature are too slow to be perceived by the human senses. We merely experience the ripples on the surface, like the passing of hours, days, of changing weather or trends in fashion. The all underlying stream of geological change, like the flow of glaciers or the drifting of continents, is outside our field of experience. However, some events bring these streams closer to the surface. In a glacial surge, the flow velocity of a glacier suddenly increases up to tens of meters per day, making the otherwise imperceptibly slow movement tangible.” These liner notes are not only a description of what inspired Johannes Malfatti, but also link the album to its label: Surge is appropriately released on the Glacial Movements label, celebrating their tenth anniversary of releasing ‘glacial’ music. The Berlin-based Malfatti graduated as a Tonmeister for audio-visual media and has collaborated with many musicians, choreographers and film directors for numerous film, television, theatre and music productions. This is his very first solo album release, and its overwhelming and irresistible. And glacial, too: you may better pull on an extra sweater or winter coat before you start listening.AMBIENT BLOG
Johannes Malfatti snowshoes his way into 2017 with Surge, a slice of ice from the always-reliable Glacial Movements. The single-track, hour-long piece sounds like a slow struggle in the bitter cold; it was recorded in the Alps, and the influence is apparent.A CLOSER LISTEN
Cosa volete che sia una traccia di quasi un’ora di durata, rapportata ai tempi geologici che attraverso terra e ghiaccio hanno scolpito il paesaggio delle Alpi austriache? La relatività dell’elemento temporale impregna di sé fin dal titolo il brano che corrisponde al debutto solista di Johannes Malfatti, compositore tedesco che vanta tra l’altro una lunga serie di collaborazioni, nonché l’attiva partecipazione all’Ensemble di Olivier Alary. Ispirato appunto da un soggiorno alpino durante lo scorso inverno, “Surge” è la maestosa rappresentazione sonora della lunga durata dei movimenti tettonici e della stratificazione dei ghiacciai, catturati nella loro essenza sostanzialmente statica e negli improvvisi innalzamenti. Così sono le basse frequenze che si dipanano dall’inizio alla fine di “Surge”, fatte di iterazioni e impercettibili variazioni, la cui percezione a distanza rivela tuttavia gradi significativamente diversi di densità e profondità. In questo senso, “Surge” rispecchia a pieno titolo la premessa concettuale che lo anima, descrivendo un’avventura totalizzante in una dimensione spazio-temporale incommensurabile, eppure tanto limitata rispetto ai tempi geologici quanto potrebbe sembrare quella dell’ora scarsa di una soverchiante sinfonia ghiacciata.musicwontsaveyou
And the world keeps turning. If you recently tuned into Brian Eno’s latest escapade, the wondrous: Refection then I’d strongly suggest experiencing Johannes Malfatti’s quietly epic, aptly titled Surge for many of the very same reasons. I’ll avoid the word Ambient or Ambience here for no other explanation than pre-conceived ideas. If Eno’s record was for dipping in and out of at will, or feeding the background to your sub-conscious then perhaps Surge is all that but then again, perhaps that in itself is all the more significant an experience than cliqued electronics played out over mindless drums with unimaginative arrangements produced to cause some sort of mindless sensation. This is the opposite of that. It expands your mind. You can gaze out of the window, do anything you like while this plays. Endlessly evolving in a non-too specific way but which fires up your senses, letting you escape into or engage fully with them. The endless soundwave which constitutes almost an hour of your time makes the room feel bigger. It is pro-active yet soothingly passive. It was written in the Austrian Alps in the winter of 2016 and you can hear why.MAGAZINE 60
Well, there’s a thing. Johannes Malfatti is a composer and sound designer, based in Berlin. With me so far? Good, ‘cause this is going to be a good ‘un. This compact disc, by the by, is the last of today’s trio hand-picked by Clint to soothe my tired ears (which have by this point been subjected to a standard sample of hard-hittin’ techno and rattling noise-drone), just a normal day at this office then. The record is, of course, one long broad-sweeping surge of granular ambient drone. Hazily drifting, yet barely noticeable in its inching progression. Appropriately enough, it’s a release on Rome’s ‘Glacial Movements’ imprint. These guys actually specialize in frozen icy soundscapes, conjuring images of land topped in vast swathes of crunchy snow and ice. Crunchy ice… mmm. Delicious. You can almost hear the sounds of icebergs colliding, bouncing off one another and thawing into the Arctic meltwaters… almost. Sounds to accompany a Winter colder (probably... almost certainly in fact) than yours; wherever you are. So be thankful for that. In a nutshell, then: It’s very very chilled.NORMAN RECORDS
Johannes Malfatti is striking out on his own. Having worked as a member of Ensemble, where he has recorded for One Little Indian and worked with Björk among others, this is his first solo venture. Surge is a description of slow-moving natural phenomena in sound, an observation that most of these processes in the natural world – glaciers, tectonic plates, icebergs and the like – move incredibly slowly. What’s the music like? Surge is a single block of sound and music lasting just under an hour. In keeping with several Glacial Movement releases it feels cold, from the early spray of white noise to the closing fade of the last big chord. As befits his objective Malfatti makes his music move at an incredibly slow tempo, but as it proceeds it builds up power and a surprising depth of emotion. This happens through a huge block of almost completely static music that slowly progresses into audible rage from around five minutes in and keeps moving. It is the start of a broadly structured canvas where the music ebbs and flows with progressively more powerful chords. By the end the textures have progressed to an incredibly thick block of sound that the listener can dive into, before the movement slows completely and the music fades away. Does it all work? Yes. Best heard on headphones, Surge is a powerful expanse that I found I appreciated more with repeated listening. It slows the brain down while engaging the mind with a vivid picture of deep blues and icy greys (for me at least!), moving from darkness to light and back again. Writing music this slow is a brave move, but the risk pays handsome dividends here. Is it recommended? Very much so – but make sure you have an hour to enjoy it, as Surge only works in a complete listen.ARCANA FM
UNI MAG#03_2017
TAZ MAG#03_2017
Johannes Malfatti is an artist who probably doesn’t really ring a bell. He however is an experienced artist who has been active in numerous projects and has released multiple productions. His involvement in Ensemble probably is the biggest credit. This project collaborated with some world-wide praised artists such as Björkk, Cat Power ao. “Surge” is the real solo-debut of Johannes Malfatti consisting of one single piece of music. Content: “Surge” is a kind of soundscape, which evolves quite slowly to progressively reach a desolate and imaginary vision. The work has been accomplished with numerous noises and sound treatments, creating a somewhat abstract sensation. You feel like being held in the grip of a dense sound wave, which is progressively getting heavier reaching its ultimate state after 57 minutes.+ + + : “Surge” has a relaxing effect although it’s rather mysterious sound atmosphere will keep you awake. The visual strength is also visiting obscure places from your mind while producing some adrenaline. The concept is rather interesting as it ‘tries to evoke a sensation of experiencing a slower, deeper layer of time’. This idea has been masterly transposed into sound. There’s a cool variation that you’ll notice after 29 minutes. – – – : I can’t imagine this kind of work without a visual accompaniment. It for sure has a visual strength, but after a while it starts to become a bit monotone, which takes the interest away. Conclusion: “Surge” sounds a bit like an endless ocean without a storm. It’s rather dark, but remains prosper and progressively evolving till its ultimate point. Best songs: “Surge”. Rate: (6).SIDE LINE
The first release by Johannes Malfatti is described as inspired by geological processes which are slow and on another scale in respect of the event commonly perceivable by human senses. This approach of time closely resemble the late Morton Feldman but, instead of working on a time scale which is difficult to manage by the listener's memory, he works on sound structures which are simpler to decipher i.e., drones, and working on details which require a certain concentration to be appreciated. The piece start quietly with the introduction of the main drone which will slowly evolve until the end of the track but, under this static canvas, a series of other sound events e.g., samples, other drones and even field recordings, or so they are perceivable, appears so it's something as a detailed landscape which is covered by a thick mass of fog; at first sight, there's only the perception of the fog but, after a little adaptation, the figures in the background appear. This is true until the clock marks the first half of the track which, after an interlude closely resembles a field recording on snow moved by wind, there's a return to the form of the first half of the track and, when the drone starts to develop, the underlying interlude reappears to introduce the final part for sustained tones of synth which close this release with a development on timbre and volume. This release has two faces: the first one is that is compositionally a little too derivative from his models to be effective in the realization of his ambitious goals. The second one is the impressive craft in the sound construction which let all the details arise in the audial spectrum. Only for fans of minimalism and reductionism.CHAIN DLK
Le glacier est une rivière arrêtée, c’est l’impossibilité réalisée : le temps suspendu. * On appelle viscosité la résistance qu’une matière oppose à l’écoulement. * Le cinéma donne l’illusion du mouvement. Certaines musiques atonales, arythmiques, bourdonnantes, donnent l’illusion de l’immobilité. * La glace est une matrice solide, une eau stérilisée par sa rigidité et sa température effroyablement basse : elle interdit la germination. Une autre croissance s’y produit : celle des cristaux. L’eau devenue cristal paraît tout aussi indissociable qu’à l’état liquide. Pourtant elle casse. Qui connaît la formule pour en prononcer la division ? * Le glacier est immobile à l’œil humain. Qui souhaite en mesurer le déplacement devra apprendre à ne plus dormir, ne plus se nourrir, ne plus bouger, à devenir soi-même glacier. Un glacier alpin se déplace à la vitesse de quelques mètres par an. L’avancée annuelle de certains glaciers polaires est de moins de deux mètres. * En 1982 le glacier Variegated en Alaska a commencé de se déplacer à la vitesse de 80 mètres par jour, et cela pendant plusieurs mois. Ce déplacement observable par l’œil humain est dû à une température proche du point de fusion. Les pressions internes subies par le glacier l’ont fait avancer à cette vitesse considérable. * On nomme surge glaciaire le déplacement exceptionnellement rapide et bref que peut connaître un glacier, en raison de nappes liquides qui se forment en son sein. * Pour faire parler la glace il faut la corrompre ainsi : la faire craquer, fondre, se séparer, se reformer. La deuxième loi de la thermodynamique énonce et prouve que le transfert de chaleur entre un corps chaud et un corps froid s’effectue du premier vers le second. Le degré d’entropie (dispersion de l’énergie thermodynamique) augmente dans le même temps. * C’est l’eau liquide qui enseignera à la glace comment parler. Goutte à goutte. * L’étendue blanche, glacée, se voit souvent comme l’effrayante uniformité de l’entropie, certains y aperçoivent aussi la beauté. S’ouvre alors le regard qui s’émerveille des variétés de conformation que la glace peut lui offrir. Semblablement, le musicien qui veut évoquer la glace pourra s’exprimer de nombreuses manières, aussi variées et subtiles que la dentelle de l’eau regelée, les épines du sérac, le plan de la banquise ou les crevasses de l’inlandsis. J’ai exploré un tel lexique dans le Feardrop 17, et le label italien Glacial Movements s’est promis d’en offrir l’encyclopédie. * Le cas de Johannes Malfatti est à verser au chapitre de l’imperceptible pulsation. Le lourd mouvement du glacier – Malfatti explique ainsi la genèse de son album Surge –est à l’image d’autres déplacements géologiques, inaccessibles au champ de notre expérience du temps. Sauf à connaître une surge glaciaire. La musique de Surge est conçue de la sorte, elle débride l’immobile, ou cette illusion de l’immobilité qui fait qu’une période de battement trop longue sera toujours étrangère aux êtres précaires. Cette musique effrite le bloc pour en désolidariser légèrement les strates. Johannes Malfatti compose avec des instruments acoustiques – on reconnaîtra des cordes, des bois, l’harmonium – qu’il érode au traitement informatique. Les couches sonores, nombreuses, agglomérées, sont ici séparées à des rythmes différents, le temps que naissent plusieurs fuseaux d’harmoniques, de densité et de timbres variés : de l’effritement de la poudre neigeuse (bruit blanc) à la lisse éblouissante et indurée, du tracé de sinuosités à la sculpture du lourd faisceau lumineux. * D’un point de vue scientifique, une ombre est absence, d’un point de vue poétique une ombre est absence OU présence. * La ténèbre dut être fécondée par l’ange de lumière qui y sombra. Ainsi naquirent les ombres. La glace cède à la chaleur et craque en manière de cri. Ainsi s’articule l’éloquence du glacier. * Surge débute dans le son du vent, ou de l’eau, qui presque rageusement viennent entamer la banquise, ils la font patiemment souffler, la fragmentent, la polissent, la font luire et presque comme une chair sollicitée, se gonfler. En un mot les éléments l’érodent. Responsables de ce mouvement qui va rendre les évènements audibles à notre temporalité, ils déclenchent ainsi la première dégradation qui permet d’appréhender la beauté des chants glaciaires dans notre monde empirique. De la même manière que la lumière doit féconder l’obscurité pour qu’apparaissent les ombres, de la même manière le monobloc de son doit être fissuré pour qu’apparaissent les figures stupéfiantes qu’il serrait dans sa gangue. * De l’informe, du continu, naissent alors ces séquences de discontinu, de subtiles rubans sonores qui vite atteignent au lissé et au poli des draperies sonores. Dentelles de glace et strates ambiantes résonnent en parfaits analogues. * La coupe sagittale de la glace donne à voir les strates qui la composent, les tranches d’histoire de la géologie glaciaire. * Quand le vent a suffisamment excité la surface du glacier, la réverbération à sa surface fait chanter les vagues d’harmoniques. * C’est la fragmentation de l’eau – et, partant, celle du temps, qu’opère sa chute, la cascade : flot, écume, embruns, bruit, lumière, irisation de l’air, illusion de l’arc. Depuis des années, je suis le fil de deux métaphores : 1 – Altération de l’absolu (silence, glace, nuit…) pour le faire chanter. 2 – Fontaine d’harmoniques, fantôme mélodique. J’ai souvent craint, et cette peur ne me laisse pas de répit, de trahir la musique avec les mots, depuis tants d’années. * Johannes Malfatti écrit : « The music has the viscosity of a slowly moving mass of ice. Like a glacier, that contains thousands of layers of snow, the vertical structures of the sonic layers are infinitely complex and ever changing. From minimal textures of white noise grow massive swells of sound. From floating fields of color rise mirages of melodies. » (La musique possède la viscosité d’une masse de glace se mouvant lentement. Tel le glacier, composé de milliers de couches de neige, les structures verticales des couches sonores, infiniment complexes, sont en mouvement permanent. Des textures minimales de bruit blanc, émergent d’imposantes houles de son. Des champs de couleurs en flottement, s’élèvent des mirages de mélodie.) * Quand les musiques bourdonnantes atteignent à ce point d’équilibre entre les strates qui les fait ressembler à l’environnement complet d’une cascade – chute de bruit blanc, réverbération et décomposition de la lumière dans les gouttelettes en suspension dans l’air, ruissellement de l’humidité sur les rochers couverts de mousses, concrétions conséquentes, jaillissement fontanier des harmoniques – la possibilité du fredonnement se réalise. J’évoque depuis des années le fantôme mélodique : la mélodie n’est pas là, aucunement jouée, mais la musique la convoquant la fait paraître sans la figurer. * Au cœur de Surge, la musique de Johannes Malfatti resplendit de ses ondulations d’harmoniques, soutenus par le grondement bleuté de la plaque la plus ancienne, la plus profonde, qui répercute peut-être le chant des cristaux depuis le cœur de la Terre. En surplomb, l’air se cabre en aurores boréales orange et rosées, doucement sculptées par le vent polaire. Mais le cœur – est-il encore froid ? – effeuille ses vagues, ses nappes au bourdon subtil et clair, et surtout ses boucles qui, cadencées dans le gîte des fuseaux, organise le fredon comme une merveille en réserve. Il n’existe pas deux dizaines de minutes équivalentes dans cette œuvre aux allures statiques mais puissamment évolutive – c’est là même sa raison d’être – c’est le retour au temps pour l’eau figée, pour ses structures anciennes et prisonnières, c’est le dévoilement de toutes les dentelles neigeuses et de leur imbrication dans une musique flattée par l’air et la lumière, miroitant sur le clavier de l’orgue glaciaire et s’exhalant en fantôme – ou mirage – mélodique.FEAR DROP
Johannes Malfatti's naam klinkt niet echt vertrouwd in onze oren. Toch hebben we hem al hier en daar aan het werk gehoord, vooral door zijn lidmaatschap van Ensemble (Fat Cat). Met Ensemble werkte hij namelijk mee aan platen van grote namen als Björk, Cat Power en The Twilight Sad. Daarnaast houdt hij zich vooral bezig met het componeren van muziek voor theater, film en kunstprojecten. Hij levert daarnaast kleine bijdragen aan bands die muziek maken variërend van elektronica tot noise en dromerige pop. 'Surge' markeert zijn eerste echte soloplaat, die hij op het in ijselijke ambient grossierende Glacial Movements mag presenteren. Het label maakt er een punt van soundtracks uit te brengen die passen bij uitgestrekte ijsvelden, eenzaamheid in een eeuwige bevroren wereld vol ijsbergen en bevroren natuur en de schoonheid die daarvan uitstraalt. Malfatti, wonend en werkend in Berlijn, trok in de winter van 2016 de Oostenrijkse Alpen in om inspiratie op te doen voor zijn werkstuk. Geen losse nummers of fragmenten, maar een doorlopend intrigerend stuk van iets meer dan een uur dat geleidelijk van textuur verandert. De evolutie van langgerekte noten verloopt traag; soms nauwelijks hoorbare tonen gaan gradueel over in geluiden die zich in je hoofd komen nestelen. Malfatti is vooral geïntrigeerd door het begrip tijd, dat nog nauwelijks iets betekent als het gaat om geologische veranderingen die plaatsvinden bij bijvoorbeeld gletsjers. Het is dat uitermate trage verglijden dat hij in zijn compositie probeert te vatten. Die eindeloosheid, die vertraagde traagheid vormt de kern van 'Surge', dat een intense luisterervaring wordt voor hen die er de tijd voor nemen.GONZO CIRCUS
Sie hören, dass Sie nichts hören – oder eben doch etwas. Glacial Movements ist ein 2006 gegründetes Label aus Rom, das sich weitab von esoterischem New Age-Geplänkel dem Veröffentlichen maximalst entspannender (und entspannter) Musik gewidmet hat. Der in Berlin lebende Johann Malfatti, der auf vielfältige Kooperationen (Björk, CAT POWER, ...) verweisen kann und als Inspiration unter anderem John Cage nennt, hat sich – eine Übereinstimmung mit dem Labelnamen – als thematischen Einfluss geologische Prozesse ausgesucht: „The all underlying stream of geological change, like the flow of glaciers or the drifting of continents, is outside our field of experience. However, some events bring these streams closer to the surface. In a glacial surge, the flow velocity of a glacier suddenly increases up to tens of meters per day, making the otherwise imperceptibly slow movement tangible“, heißt es dazu auf der Label-Website, und so spult das Kopfkino hier Bilder ab von SloMo-Flugaufnahmen endloser Eis- und Gebirgslandschaften ab, zu denen „Surge“ läuft, eine einzige durchgehende Komposition. Sanfte Klänge zwischen Fließen und Rauschen, wie idealisierte Field-Recordings aus Hochgebirgslandschaften. Augen zu und ab.OX-FANZINE
JOHANNES MALFATTI – SURGE Johannes Malfatti – 'Surge' (2017) I ghiacciai non sono statici, ma in movimento. Un’attività in corso da tempi immemorabili, ora accelerata dal surriscaldamento globale che ne comporta una più rapida fusione, con conseguenti rischi. Da una parte, l’innalzamento del livello dei mari, pena la scomparsa di terre emerse. Dall’altra, la potenziale estinzione di diverse specie animali. Nel mezzo, la siccità derivante dalla diminuzione di risorse idriche. I ghiacciai sono serbatoi di acqua dolce. In un futuro meno lontano del previsto, l’uomo sarà privo di una ricchezza fondamentale per l’agricoltura e l’industria. Non è lo script di un film di fantascienza, è un fenomeno riscontrabile a occhio nudo già sulle nostrane Alpi. Le carte topografiche sono destinate a essere riadattate di pari passo all’incremento di anidride carbonica e metano nell’aria. Il ricorso a combustibili fossili, la deforestazione, l’effetto serra le maggiori cause del lento scioglimento dei ghiacciai. I loro movimenti sono di due tipi. In un primo caso, avvengono all’interno della massa di ghiaccio, che si comporta come un solido finché la pressione a cui è sottoposto è inferiore a quella esercitata da uno strato soprastante. Quando il carico aumenta, il ghiaccio comincia a fluire. In un secondo caso, si assiste, invece, allo scivolamento dell’intera massa di ghiaccio sul terreno, veicolato dall’acqua derivante dal suo lento scioglimento. I ghiacciai non si muovono neppure alla stessa velocità. Il movimento è più rapido al centro e più lento ai lati, a causa dell’attrito con le pareti e il fondo della valle. È la condizione sonora applicata all’interno di “Surge” (2017), primo album di Johannes Malfatti, pubblicato dalla Glacial Movements. Un concept sviluppato durante un inverno trascorso sulle Alpi austriache. Il sound designer di stanza a Berlino, già collaboratore di Björk e con svariati clienti nel mondo del cinema, fa leva su quel ‘flusso’ di cambiamenti geologici al di fuori della nostra esperienza, ma ormai ineluttabile, per caratterizzare l’unico segmento musicale consegnato al solito Alessandro Tedeschi. Il solenne “Surge” è una sorta di album in time-lapse. Un’ora di tempo per raccontare trasformazioni apparentemente lontane dal nostro quotidiano, seppur destinate a condizionarlo un domani, in chiave ambient. I minuti scorrono tra alte e basse frequenze. Le variazioni impercettibili. Le tensioni in primo piano. Una timida introduzione. Una ripartenza centrale. E una conclusione in chiaroscuro. La profondità è garantita, così come la resa sonora. Un solo brano, più strati sovrapposti, diverse velocità. Trame minimal, rumori bianchi, sporadiche melodie e ‘ondate’ sonore. Il ghiacciaio in note elaborato dalla mente di Johannes Malfatti non scricchiola, ma evapora come nebbia. È l’illusione dell’immobilità. Drone ritmico. Atmosfera gelida. La prima opera dell’artista tedesco è travolgente. Convincente la scelta di adottare strumenti sia acustici, ad esempio archi e legni, che digitali, per provare a colorare di vita i differenti strati, segnati da diversi timbri. Il ghiacciaio immaginario appare, in principio, come un blocco inaccessibile, destinato persino a espandersi. L’erosione degli agenti atmosferici una spina nel fianco. Non sono i raggi di luce a metterlo a dura prova, ma lo scorrere quasi senza sosta dell’acqua. Le ombre si diradano al calare del respiro del vento. La discontinuità sonica è garantita. Ogni movimento, di qualsiasi natura sia, è creatore.SOUTERRAINE
Johannes Malfatti’s Surge is a single track drone, full of wind, atmospheric pressure, and cavernous spaces. It is not exactly a warm place, and the tunneled white noise sweeps the walls of its prison, brushing the hollow surface with the darkness and void. Writing these words, I wonder what makes some sounds feel heavy, while others feel light, and what particular attribute of a sound wave allows one to picture the darkness within. And yet, Surge is precisely as moody as Malfatti intends it to be, fully organic and breathing with the suction of space. The tightness opens up a bit towards the middle of the album as if I am being elevated higher towards its entrance, but all in all, I still find myself resting on its thick ambient pads, carried through its soundscape, wide, sparse, and cold. “The composition tries to evoke a sensation of experiencing a slower, deeper layer of time. It draws inspiration from concepts like geological time and pace layers, that describe the idea of different scales of time. […] The music has the viscosity of a slowly moving mass of ice. Like a glacier, that contains thousands of layers of snow, the vertical structures of the sonic layers are infinitely complex and ever-changing.” This is a very appropriate release for Alessandro Tedeschi‘s Glacial Movements, one of my all-time favorite labels specializing in ambient arctic soundscapes. Although Malfatti has previously appeared in the credits of many releases, this is his first solo album. I keep returning to this one, folks, even if it’s over a year old. Check it out!HEADPHONE COMMUTE