After giving us a taste last year of their new modern classical project with The Grunewald Church Session, brothers Sebastian and Daniel Selke are about to release their full-length studio debut album entitled Concrete Fields as CEEYS. The moniker they chose is a neologism forged from references to their respective instruments – a combination of the French spelling for cello (‘violoncelle’) played by Sebastian and ‘keys’, of which Daniel uses a wide variety in constructing their distinctive narratives including a 1912 Steinway and some intriguing vintage gear. But sound is only part of the story the Selke’s have to tell. Concrete Fields is in fact the first installment of a triptych and incorporates images & videos to resonate their experience growing up in a prefab estate in East Germany and navigating dramatic personal, political,. and cultural change.
“It is our remembrance of a childhood growing up in Europe’s largest prefab estate Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Berlin, East Germany…After the ‘quiet’ revolution in 1989 and the fall of the wall, and throughout the 90s, the region always kept a blend of an edgy feeling of departure and a vague melancholy. We like that the politics tried lots of things to bring more colour and life into the post-revolutionary landscape, but the strange feeling never fully left us. To carefully handle all the different facets of this time period we decided to release our musical version of what the Germans call ‘Betonfelder’ in the form of a trilogy spread across the next few years.” – CEEYS
The album opens with the stark beauty of “Based” and “Based II” which exemplifies their arresting sound which is so austere and yet so emotionally resonant, a balance the Selke’s achieve with meticulous attention to technique and a unified vision that is shared right down to their DNA.
“When improvising with handmade percussive noises on the cello, Sebastian tries all the different bowing techniques such as détaché trainé, sul ponticello and col legno. He deliberately varies the bowing speed in combination with his use of flageolet and damped strings to build up unpredictable overtone towers. He gently drums and swipes on the cello’s wooden body: top, back, sides and the bridge. Sometimes, alongside the cello signals, he sends those un-effected noises through a digital delay with a high level of feedback to produce his unmistakable landscape of textures. At the same time, Daniel helps to frame this ambience by plucking the piano’s big low strings, or he pushes the sustain pedal without playing any single note to simultaneously hit the whole compass of the piano and produce a quiet but fascinating fanned noise. The use of textures and field recordings are also a distinctive component and twice we even tinker in some brittle beats made from clicks and bits from the Vermona ER 9 rhythm box.” – CEEYS.
The title track is a gripping and exquisite modern classical gem crafted with samples from the largest upright in the world, the Modell 370i constructed by David Klavins (read more about this amazing instrument here). Other highlights include the organ-driven ‘Rueber’, which is reprised at the end of the album in collaboration with Martyn Heyne on e-bowed guitar, and the deeply affecting “Without Shelter”. It is sublime, thoughtful, and compelling.
Concrete Fields will be released in the form of a CD, limited 12-inch LP, edition of 300 and digital download on February 24, 2017 by modern classical label 1631 Recordings. Accompanying the release of the album is photography and filmed visualizations of each song focused on the architecture related to the album’s theme.
More from CEEYS
Q3AmbientFest (Apr 8-9, Potsdam)
The Q3Ambientfest is a festival for experimental modern classical music, launching in 2017 and curated by CEEYS and Dutch event label FLUISTER (Q3A is the abbreviation for “Querwandbau” (cross-wall construction), a particular type of multi-story pre-fabricated building constructed in the GDR).
It will be April 8-9 in Potsdam featuring Anne Müller, Stefano Guzzetti, Kinbrae, Martyn Heyne, Sophie Hutchings, Midori Hirano, and CEEYS.
Reworks and Bonus Material
CEEYS has also released a number of impressive reworks of songs by other luminaries of experimental modern classical some of which can be found on their Soundcloud page and some of which may be released at a later date. They make for wonderful listening. Featured here is their most recent effort, a gorgeous interpretation of “Four” from the recently released EP Loon by Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm.