Eberhard Weber: The Following Morning (ECM 1084)

 

Eberhard Weber
The Following Morning

Eberhard Weber bass
Rainer Brüninghaus piano
Members of Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra celli, French horns, oboe
Recorded August 1976 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

The title of Eberhard Weber’s classic 1977 album is as evocative as they come. At once cryptic and expository, the image calls up a host of associations, plays of light and shadow.

“T. On A White Horse” establishes the album’s solemn mood as Weber’s distinctive electrobass springs to life against an aquatic electric piano. A small orchestral section weaves its way in, painting chromatic oboe lines onto a droning canvas of cellos. As the strings intensify, bass and woodwinds share a plaintive synchronicity. The bass holds its breath, cupping its hands around Brüninghaus’s delicate flame. Oboes carry their lilting harmony across the oceans, fading into the bell-like call of sunrise.

“Moana I” feels less like a journey with a goal and more like a testing ground for confluence. The orchestra sprouts like a forest through which Weber must limp on his way toward dawn. The piano’s melodic charge, however, helps to cut this tension. Once the French horns offer their own desultory commentary, morning light pours in. The electric piano buffs the music to a crystalline sheen while horns and winds work their way back into rest. They find their beds and sleep, having reached the summit of their dreams.

The title track begins with indistinct ambient noises: people rustling in a resonant space, musicians shifting in their seats. This impressionistic cloud splits with a piano chord in reverse, loosing an electronic squall. Strings talk among themselves in the background as bowed harmonics trickle like rain down a window. The piano speaks of midnight to the bass, which emerges with a chorused effect. Weber’s keening tone touches the landscape, scratching glyphs into its fertile surface. The scene shifts and grinds, a hurdy-gurdy whispering in slow motion. The appearance of an acoustic bass in this track creates a dazzling effect, as if rising from some bygone era where the immediacy of live performance was a given and not a luxury, and where the communal experience of music thrived in the ears of every listener. The world unravels like a lullaby, revealing just enough of its heart to give us vast internal comfort. With this rupture mended the electrobass returns, laying out its motif over the pieces left behind. The acoustic bass chants the same note as a French horn plays us out.

“Moana II” puts us into an echoing flock of horns that seems to scorn the earth below. This segues into a brief passage of quiet abstractions before blossoming into a conversation between piano and bass, at which point the horns have flown away. Although the acoustic arrangements are wonderful, in this instance the heavily contrived bass feels just slightly out of place and, I think, clashes with the more organic backdrop. Thankfully, Weber reacclimatizes as he goes along, meshing beautifully with the synth effects at the album’s end.

Weber’s sound is instantly recognizable in its solitary function, marking its mission in stillness. With a liquid technique Weber wrings out as much melodic juice from his instrument as he possibly can. Not to be outdone, the epic piano stylings of Brüninghaus are the perfect foil for Weber’s decidedly intimate approach. Every time his fingers touch the keys, we begin to see where this music can really take us. Weber’s compositions constitute a vast sonic kaleidoscope in which one finds a range of moods all strung by the same nostalgic threads. Every detail is a new feather, stitched into the wings on either side of the space-bound fuselage that is his ever-expanding oeuvre. To listen to his music is to feel the state of things change from light to dark and back to light again.

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