Conundrum

Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock/Bernhard Wöstheinrich
Conundrum Cover
1) Virupaksha 8:00
2) Bowed Visions 8:12
3) Conundrum 9:21
4) Phased Realities 5:55
5) Swarmandel 10:07
6) Flavia's Paradise 6:40
7) Moonlit 8:17


Total time: 56:45

DIN 27 (GB)

Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock: Electric guitars & electric sitar
Bernhard Wöstheinrich: Synthesizers & sequencing
Markus Reuter & Ian Boddy: Drum programming & additional sequences

mp3-Demos under http://www.din.org.uk/news.html

La sempre avventurosa label DiN di Ian Boddy continua il suo incessante percorso all'interno di nuovi territori inesplorati dell'elettronica attraverso questo nuovo capitolo dal titolo Conundrum, prima collaborazione tra il guitarist/sitarist Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock ed il cultore del synth/sequencer Bernhard Wöstheinrich, già membro dei Centrozoon con Markus Reuter.

La collisione tra il prog-space rocker hero ed il maestro di soundscapes contribuisce a spalancare nuove visioni auree, grazie anche all'assistenza di Markus Reuter e del deus ex machina della DiN, Ian Boddy.

La traccia d'esordio Virpasksha costituisce un brillante sintesi delle intenzioni musicali dell'intero album, intrecciare ogni sfumatura stilistica e far balenare di tanto in tanto questa commistione in ogni angolo del lavoro, avvolgendolo attorno ad un ritmo incalzante e a bolle melodiche New Wave. Il brano oscilla tra una intro di soundscapes da sogno ed una evoluzione di effervescente elettro-pop che si dilegua ben presto nello spazio sonoro.

Swarmandel segue una traiettoria analoga, aprendosi in una soave atmosfera ambient prima che un ritmo filtrante cominci a stuzzicare l'ascoltatore in un groviglio di sonorità sintetizzate. Ad impreziosire il tutto interviene il sitar di Hoffmann-Hoock che diffonde un'aurea iridescenza grazie al suo suono analogo a quello di un'arpa. Eccessivamente uptempo per un brano ambient, e troppo vicino alle sensazioni evocate dai soundscapes per il Prog-rock il pezzo appartiene ad una categoria inclassificabile.

Nel contempo Moonlit colma in maniera esemplare il gap tra spacerock ed ambient. Adesso Wöstheinrich costruisce squisiti soundscapes che si sviluppano a spirale come cattedrali di vetro nell'etere, mentre Hoffmann-Hoock crea evocativi echi con chitarra e sitar che paiono venire direttamente dalle nuvole, suggerendo mistiche e magiche visioni.

Del pari sublime risulta Flavia's Paradise, una singolare fusione di turbinosi soundscapes, ridondanti accordi di chitarra, tintinnii di piatti, e maree di synth. Muovendo dalle suggestioni paesaggistiche occidentali a quelle più proprie dell'oriente si dispiegano Bowed Visions e la title-track, che richiamano più da vicino alcuni dei primi lavori di Hoffmann-Hoock in atmosfere spaziali unite ad ispirati soli di prog-guitar e sitar.

Conundrum invece appare più delicata, con la partecipazione in veste di singer di SiRenee la cui voce scintilla nella brezza, il ritmo è apparentemente guidato da tablas, e scivola lentamente in una sorta di trance sonora. In opposizione totale alla bellezza struggente del precedente brano è Phased Realities, pezzo incostante sviluppato attorno a synth tenebrosi e chitarre ombrose. Il pezzo ha un avvio elettronico, ma il finale vira attorno ad uno stile jam e prog-rock.

Le saporite miscele di Est ed Ovest, chitarre e synths, l'uso versatile del sequencer ed i ritmi fluidi, le atmosfere instabili e sempre in movimento nonchè l'accurata fusione degli stili rendono Conundrum un album di elettronica ai limiti dell'eccellenza.

Brani consigliati: Tutti

Paolo Marchegiani Italy 2007
www.artistsandbands.org

What a fascinating combination - Klaus 'Cosmic' Hoffmann and sound sculptor extraordinaire Bernd Wöstheinrich! And it works so incredibly well. 'Virupaksha' gets off to an excellent start with a superb forceful sequence cutting through blissful little shimmers like a knife through the finest silk. A cool groove is crafted with exquisite space guitar colouring in the middle of the mix creating great depth, caressing the psyche but also getting the pulse racing. A fantastic opener with just a hint of Eastern mysticism.

'Bowed Vision' uses smooth (bowed) cosmic string sounds as a lovely tranquil backing, creating the perfect chill out atmos. Laid back guitar chords then a slow chugging sequence and sympathetic rhythm increase the pace just enough to get my head nodding to it and hands beating out time on the table. The guitar, as on all this album, is an essential part of the overall feel but it is restrained, adding colour and depth but never giving it the axe man treatment. Exquisite. The title track is very dreamy, female Eastern vocal colouring hovering over a gentle electronic sea. A loping rhythm, as if accompanying a camel train across the desert, wakes me up slightly whilst more ethereal guitar soothes the mind. 'Phased Realities' starts with weird windy sounds before the heaviest rhythm on the album so far makes an entrance. It's all rather precise and sharp, just oozing attitude with even a hint of menace. Guitar notes fall like water droplets creating a subtle melody all of their own. A fascinating piece of music.

We return to calm relaxation as 'Swarmandel' floats into being. A bass line / rhythm combination really kick the track into life. Sitar (I think) adds to the interest. We are given a brief breather in the middle section before the rhythm strikes up again with added oomph making it impossible for me to stay still. The mood changes once more as gently strummed guitar gives 'Flavia's Paradise' an on the edge of sleep sort of feel. A collage of electronic sounds pass through my wandering thoughts. It's certainly rather strange but fascinating nevertheless. 'Moonlit' settles the mind, once more lulling us into sleep and providing the most ethereal moments on the album. This is an album that has inventiveness but is also easy on the ear. I really enjoyed it.

DL GB/2008
Good collaborations can bring out latent voices. On Conundrum (56'43) the duo of Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock and Bernhard Wöstheinrich speak in a language of unexpected affinities and easily traced influences. For Hoffmann-Hoock it is Eastern thought and 60s Psychedelia while technology and abstract expressionism inform Wöstheinrich's contributions. Working together on 'Conundrum' the duo manages to combine their individual musical traits into a cohesive sonic statement. Electronic beats, pops and squeaks drop in hard, then relax beneath ethereal guitar leads. The cerebral energy of the rhythms activates the mind as languid melodies play to the heart. Prog-Rock influences inundate Hoffmann-Hoock's guitar riffs. Drifting glissando clouds, slow E-bow solos, breathing chords and straight-ahead liquid leads flow amidst Wöstheinrich's electronica flare. With their hot beats and cool guitar this duo conjures up multi-faceted inventions both cosmically abstract and molecularly detailed.

Chuck van Zyl / Star's End
Two musicians who have their own musical projects and other collaborations, have come together for the first time. Conundrum was initially created from improvisational sessions and then subsequently finished by Markus Reuter who did the arrangement and added loops and layers. Ian Boddy (founder of the DiN label) also has an input with Markus on drum programming and additional sequences.

Most of the tracks are structured to have rhythmic sections preceded by an atmospheric ambient mood. This becomes obvious in the second track "Bowed Visions". Haunting tones stretch out across the soundscape; the textures - clouded quasi-industrial in the background - and ethereal humming vocals creating a slow motion vision of a distant Asian city. Eventually a kind of squiggly rhythm comes in, gradually building in pace while electric guitar sounds sear hither and thither. Hoffmann-Hoock is known for his Asian flavoured music, especially under his Mind Over Matter recording name, and recently on Visions of Asia which was a collaboration with Peter Mergener. This sonic flavor is most noticeable on the title track "Conundrum". Metallic and otherworldly drones skate about each other, eventually to be joined by wordless vocals (performed by SiRenee) quivering and "ahhing" like an intimate prayer calling to the Gods. Then a rhythm with an Indian style groove and sound starts up along with brushy percussion, elongated sitaresque tones quickly snaking across the soundscape and assorted effects. For me this is the best track. Bringing things to a close is the flowing piece "Moonlit". A mix of drones and pads slowly shift as though we're moving over a dimly — moonlit — landscape, and in places sparing notes form a nascent melody or just add richness. Here the music hints at various moods from quiet contemplation to lament in a fitting end to the album.

After an uninspiring start in the first track, Conundrum begins to slowly entrance the listener. Sonically and atmospherically it's a beguiling work that needs repeated listening sessions for all its secrets to be unravelled.

Dene Bebbington
Conundrum is the first collaboration between Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock (Mind Over Matter, Cosmic Hoffmann) and Bernhard Wostheinrich (The Redundant Rocker, Centrozoon, Subsonic Experience). The album merges KHH's spaceguitar and electric sitar with BW's synthesizers and sequencers. The sound from the original, improvised recording sessions was further shaped by Markus Reuter, and the final mixing duties fell to Ian Boddy. The CD is limited to 1000 copies only and could become a collector's item in a few years.

"Virupaksha" opens the album with sequencers and a remote drum beat plus distorted sounds/guitars which slow down after some time and give place to the electric Asian-sounding sitar. "Bowed Visions" includes ambient guitar moods, quite original and experimental. Synth sounds emerge to give the song a more rhythmic, forward-moving motion, and guitar improvisations can be heard. Heavenly vocals over totally ambient music dominate the title track. Rhythms emerge after several minutes, and again an Eastern mood enters. It's monotonous but at the same time exciting. "Phased Realities" opens with contemporary rhythms; the tune is strange and difficult on the ear but nevertheless charming. The composers are clearly trying to do something new instead of just tuning up the 70s/Berlin School sequencers we hear from so many others. "Swarmandel" has a totally ambient "space" music intro before a busy part enters. No melodic development in this almost house/trance track that is not easy listening. "Flavia's Paradise" is highly strange and peculiar, various distorted sounds and themes start and stop on this track which is the most experimental on the CD. The album closes with "Moonlit" which has a relaxing ambience and a guitar soundscape. The title is fitting perfectly.

DiN is of course known for rather experimental music, so this album will not come as a surprise for fans of the label. Thumbs up for its originality!

Jon Aanensen (Sequences/GB 2007)
This release from 2007 offers 57 minutes of dreamy electronic music. It unites two notable artists: Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock (from Mind over Matter and Cosmic Hoffmann) on guitar and electric sitar, and Bernhard Wöstheinrich (from Centrazoon and Subsonic Experience) on synthesizers and sequencing. Joining them are: Ian Boddy and Marcus Reuter (on drum programming and additional sequences, with Reuter providing guitar bellscape on one track), and SiRenee (on vocals on one track).

Initially, luxurious passages of softly grinding electronics are given tasty propulsion by undulant rhythms. Guitar effects ooze through the mix like expressive honey.

With the second track, the guitar comes forward to generate a celestial disposition with fluently bowed sustains. Rising to assist, insectoid electronics and chugging tempos inspire the guitar to adopt even more cosmic definition.

Airy tonalities provide the title song with a calming foundation in support of dreamily treated vocal effects that spiral through the harmonics. Percussives emerge, flavoured eastern to enhance the song's lazy dervish.

Track four utilizes hesitant rhythms in conjunction with electronic drones to achieve a state of frozen transition, as if a traveller has become trapped half in one world, half in another. Passage through these pandimensional barriers becomes possible through the introduction of seemingly erratic guitar effects that eventually coalesce into stratospheric chords.

The next piece begins with a gentle soundscape of twinkling notes adrift in a pool of tenuous tonalities. Snappy tempos arrive, accompanied by chugging electronics. The pace remains relaxed, but the audience is teased with a touch of intensity that playfully remains in the future tense.

Track six layers some almost conventional guitar sounds with a pastoral atmosphere of fragile electronics, producing a soundscape of dreamy scope.

The last piece has a decidedly twilight mood to it, with elongated guitar notes floating in clouds of shimmering tones.

The general nature of these compositions is ambient. Slight touches of pep are deceptive, for while hinting at activity; they remain understated, communicating a subliminally energized state.

SONIC CURIOSITY Matt Howarth 2007
Two musicians who have their own musical projects and other collaborations have come together for the first time. Conundrum was initially created from improvisational sessions and then subsequently finished by Markus Reuter who did the arrangement and added loops and layers. Ian Boddy (founder of the DiN label) also has an input with Markus on drum programming and additional sequences.

Most of the tracks are structured to have rhythmic sections preceded by an atmospheric ambient mood. This becomes obvious in the second track "Bowed Visions". Haunting tones stretch out across the soundscape; the textures -- clouded quasi-industrial in the background -- and ethereal humming vocals creating a slow motion vision of a distant Asian city. Eventually a kind of squiggly rhythm comes in, gradually building in pace while electric guitar sounds sear hither and thither.

Hoffmann-Hoock is known for his Asian flavoured music, especially under his Mind Over Matter recording name, and recently on Visions of Asia which was a collaboration with Peter Mergener. This sonic flavour is most noticeable on the title track "Conundrum". Metallic and otherworldly drones skate about each other, eventually to be joined by wordless vocals (performed by SiRenee) quivering and "ahhing" like an intimate prayer calling to the Gods. Then a rhythm with an Indian style groove and sound starts up along with brushy percussion, elongated sitar-esque tones quickly snaking across the soundscape, and assorted effects. For me this is the best track.

Bringing things to a close is the flowing piece "Moonlit". A mix of drones and pads slowly shift as though we're moving over a dimly - moonlit - landscape, and in places sparing notes form a nascent melody or just add richness. Here the music hints at various moods from quiet contemplation to lament in a fitting end to the album.

After an uninspiring start in the first track, Conundrum begins to slowly entrance the listener. Sonically and atmospherically it's a beguiling work that needs repeated listening sessions for all its secrets to be unravelled.

Melliflua.com GB 2007
A perennial favourite of mine, Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock, has teamed up with DiN label musician Bernhard Wöstheinrich to create some first-rate electronic music. The very spacey retro passages, scintillating guitars, and ethnic touches from Hoffmann-Hoock are apparent throughout; to them Wöstheinrich adds his technical wizardry, modern electronica elements with an emphasis on the rhythmic component. The end result transcends genres and simply makes good music.
Wöstheinrich's influence is felt early on "Virupaksha," as a cool bubbly bass sequence and punchy rhythms appear within the first minute. The atmospheric sounds swirling about are trademark COSMIC HOFFMANN. These contrasting musical elements fuse together into a heady brew that cooks right along.
"Bowed Visions" mellows things out considerably, focusing on dreamy guitar soundscapes until a slow easygoing bass line picks things up a bit. The disc has a very fluid feel throughout, perhaps best exemplified here. Klaus likes his eastern influences, appearing on the title track in the form of ethnic percussion and a small dose of female vocals. With its pensive faraway quality, this could easily pass for a MIND OVER MATTER track.
Wöstheinrich gets to show off his talents on the quirky "Phased Realities," a piece firmly rooted in modern electronica rather than retro. Though different in character it manages to fit in to the overall theme, demonstrating the symbiotic relationship between these two gifted musicians.Conundrum is one of 2007's best.

© 2007 Phil Derby / Electroambient Space
La sempre avventurosa label DiN di Ian Boddy continua il suo incessante percorso all'interno di nuovi territori inesplorati dell'elettronica attraverso questo nuovo capitolo dal titolo Conundrum, prima collaborazione tra il guitarist/sitarist Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock ed il cultore del synth/sequencer Bernhard Wöstheinrich, già membro dei Centrozoon con Markus Reuter.
La collisione tra il prog-space rocker hero ed il maestro di soundscapes contribuisce a spalancare nuove visioni auree, grazie anche all'assistenza di Markus Reuter e del deus ex machina della DiN, Ian Boddy.
La traccia d'esordio Virpasksha costituisce un brillante sintesi delle intenzioni musicali dell'intero album, intrecciare ogni sfumatura stilistica e far balenare di tanto in tanto questa commistione in ogni angolo del lavoro, avvolgendolo attorno ad un ritmo incalzante e a bolle melodiche New Wave. Il brano oscilla tra una intro di soundscapes da sogno ed una evoluzione di effervescente elettro-pop che si dilegua ben presto nello spazio sonoro. Swarmandel segue una traiettoria analoga, aprendosi in una soave atmosfera ambient prima che un ritmo filtrante cominci a stuzzicare l'ascoltatore in un groviglio di sonorità sintetizzate. Ad impreziosire il tutto interviene il sitar di Hoffmann-Hoock che diffonde un'aurea iridescenza grazie al suo suono analogo a quello di un'arpa. Eccessivamente uptempo per un brano ambient, e troppo vicino alle sensazioni evocate dai soundscapes per il Prog-rock il pezzo appartiene ad una categoria inclassificabile.
Nel contempo Moonlit colma in maniera esemplare il gap tra spacerock ed ambient. Adesso Wöstheinrich costruisce squisiti soundscapes che si sviluppano a spirale come cattedrali di vetro nell'etere, mentre Hoffmann-Hoock crea evocativi echi con chitarra e sitar che paiono venire direttamente dalle nuvole, suggerendo mistiche e magiche visioni.
Del pari sublime risulta Flavia's Paradise, una singolare fusione di turbinosi soundscapes, ridondanti accordi di chitarra, tintinnii di piatti, e maree di synth. Muovendo dalle suggestioni paesaggistiche occidentali a quelle più proprie dell'oriente si dispiegano Bowed Visions e la title-track, che richiamano più da vicino alcuni dei primi lavori di Hoffmann-Hoock in atmosfere spaziali unite ad ispirati soli di prog-guitar e sitar.
Conundrum invece appare più delicata, con la partecipazione in veste di singer di SiRenee la cui voce scintilla nella brezza, il ritmo è apparentemente guidato da tablas, e scivola lentamente in una sorta di trance sonora. In opposizione totale alla bellezza struggente del precedente brano è Phased Realities, pezzo incostante sviluppato attorno a synth tenebrosi e chitarre ombrose. Il pezzo ha un avvio elettronico, ma il finale vira attorno ad uno stile jam e prog-rock.
Le saporite miscele di Est ed Ovest, chitarre e synths, l'uso versatile del sequencer ed i ritmi fluidi, le atmosfere instabili e sempre in movimento nonchè l'accurata fusione degli stili rendono Conundrum un album di elettronica ai limiti dell'eccellenza. Brani consigliati: Tutti

Paolo Marchegiani / Artists & Bands (Italy) 6/2007
The always adventurous DiN label continues its exultant electronic journey into glorious new territory with the release of Conundrum, the first collaboration between guitarist/ sitarist Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock and synth/sequencer Bernhard Wöstheinrich. Within, the collision between the prog-space rocker hero and soundscaping master opens up brave new aural vistas, assisted by Markus Reuter and label head Ian Boddy.

The opening track "Virpasksha" is a brilliant musical statement of intent, interweaving nearly every stylistic facet and shading the rest of the album will entail, and wrapping it around a bouncy rhythm and bubbly New Wave-y melody. The piece shifts from its dreamy soundscape intro into effervescent electro-pop, slowly begins to pull towards the East, before shimmering into space.

"Swarmandel" follows a similar trajectory, opening in a gorgeous ambient setting before a percolating rhythm kicks in and shaded synths sweep through. Even so, an iridescence aura remains, as Hoffmann-Hoock's harp-like sitar floats across the piece. Too uptempo for ambient, too soundscapish for Progrock the piece belongs in a category all its own.

"Moonlit", meanwhile, beautifully bridges the gap between spacerock and ambience. Here Wöstheinrich builds exquisite soundscapes that spiral like glass cathedrals into the ether, while Hoffman-Hoock's evocative guitar and sitar echoes from the clouds, conjuring up a mystical, magical vista.

Equally sublime is "Flavia's Paradise", a swirling concoction of ambient soundscapes, echoing guitar chords, tinkling bells, and lush synths. Moving from idyllic western vistas to the East comes "Bowed Visions" and the title track, the former somewhat reminiscent of the Hoffmann-Hoock's earlier work and awash in spacey atmospheres and filled with inspired proggy guitar and sitar solos.

"Conundrum", in contrast, is more delicate, with guest singer SiRenee's vocals shimmering in the breeze, the rhythm seemingly tabla driven, and the aura mesmerizing as the piece glides into trance.

In polar opposite to the beauty of that number is "Phased Realities", a skittish piece built around an off-kilter rhythm, gloomy synths, and shadowed guitar. The track begins in electronica, but by the end has deftly shifted into a jammy, progrock style.

The exquisite blends of East and West, synths and guitars, the supple sequencing and fluid rhythms, flickering and shifting atmospheres, wed to the seamless and inspired interweaving of styles makes categorizing this set a conundrum indeed. But the iridescent music within, the beautiful vistas it conjures up, the many gorgeous auras that swirl up leave no doubt of this album's magnificence.

Jo-Ann Greene, Allmusic 5/2007
Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock, bekannt durch sein Soloprojekt COSMIC HOFFMANN und seine Band MIND OVER MATTER ist nach dem Album "Visions Of Asia" mit Peter Mergener eine neue Kollaboration eingegangen. Der neue Mitstreiter heißt Bernhard Wöstheinrich und ist bekannt als "Redundant Rocker", "Subsonic Experience" und Kopf der Band CENTROZOON.

Die beiden haben ihr Album "Conundrum", was für Rätselfrage steht, genannt. Auf sieben Tracks mit Spielzeiten zwischen 5:55 und 10:07 Minuten bringt es der gut 57minütige Silberling. Zunächst möchte ich sagen, dass die Stücke des Albums atmosphärisch wesentlich dichter und homogener sind, als bei "Visions Of Asia". Das liegt vor allem daran, dass man hört, wie die beiden zusammen im Studio agiert haben. Hier wurden die Tracks live eingespielt und das tut der Produktion merklich gut.

Während Bernhard für die elektronischen Sounds zuständig ist, würzt Klaus die Tracks durch seine sehr spacig gespielte E-Gitarre. Und durch den Einsatz seiner elektrischen Sitar fügt er dem Ganzen auch noch einen Hauch asiatischen Flairs bei. Dem quasi fertigen Produkt wurden von Ian Boddy und Markus Reuter noch einige Rhythmussequenzen unterlegt, die für einen entsprechenden Trance-/Ambientsound sorgen. Aber auch ohne diese Beigaben, davon konnte man sich beim diesjährigen E-Day überzeugen, funktionieren die Stück hervorragend.

Bei jedem Hördurchgang zieht einen diese Mischung aus Spacemusik, asiatischen Klängen, Ambientsounds und rhythmischen Parts immer mehr in ihren Bann. Versucht man sich zur Musik auf das Coverbild zu konzentrieren, raubt es einem förmlich die Sinne und man entschwebt in eine andere Dimension.

Mit "Conundrum" ist den beiden ein tolles Album gelungen, auf dem jeder der Protagonisten seine eindeutige Handschrift hinterlässt, ohne die Stücke zu sehr zu dominieren. Sowohl den COSMIC HOFFMANN-, wie auch den Anhängern der Wöstheinrich-Produktionen und natürlich den Liebhabern gut gemachter Elektronik-/Ambient-Musik ist dieses Album zu empfehlen.

Stephan Schelle, Musikzirkus-Magazin, 05/ 2007

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