Artist: Oliver Koletzki & Niko Schwind
Label: Stil vor Talent
Cat no: SVT222
Released: 25th May 2018
Distribution: Zebralution, Wordandsound
Genre: Downtempo / Breaks / Deep House / Techno
Extraordinary pieces of music have long stood in direct correlation to the physical surroundings that inspire them. When Oliver Koletzki and Niko Schwind packed up their Berlin studios last April to spend a month locked away in a cottage nestled in the stunning nature of Cape Town’s Noordhoek area before heading to AfrikaBurn, little did they know that its long beaches, dramatic mountain views and the heritage of its indigenous people would have such a profound effect on the club-ready sound they had championed with a string of EPs and live-performances since 2015. The result of four weeks of geo-cultural stimuli and creative experimentation culminated in the album ‘Noordhoek’, released in May 2018 on Stil vor Talent.
“Niko and I travelled to South Africa with our studio for a month last year to write music – and we had the time of our lives. Listening to the album, I think you’ll be able to hear just how incredible an experience the trip was for us” – Oliver Koletzki
While the productions on Noordhoek display the same on-point sound design of previous Oliver Koletzki and Niko Schwind releases, the impressive emotional depth and electronic floor-focus of its twelve tracks effortlessly merge with complex rhythmic textures to form a contemporary narrative on ancient dance rituals.
‘Early Pearl’, the album’s opener, unfolds with a disorienting build-up of vocal loops and synth swooshes, eventually dropping into a swinging groove that leads to ‘Subati’. Here, clanking percussion is interspersed
with polyrhythmic bongo rolls, before a chugging beat drives the arrangement towards a climax of African chants. ‘Olura’ then presents itself as a tripped-out, cinematic ride through a nightmarish landscape until its metallic march is lit up by a crystal-clear melody.
More straightforward but equally hallucinogenic, Koletzki and Schwind work an epic, synth-driven break into the positively perplexing adventure that is ‘Wrong is Right’. In contrast, ‘Kruda’ is brimming with life thanks to its Afro-bounce, drawing the dancer into a humid bazaar setting of organic hand-drums, shamanic vocal samples and vivid flute leads. With its long ambient intro of field recordings gliding into a sunrise of warm pads and shimmering melodic touches, ‘Noordhoek’s’ title track marks a dazzling breather at the album’s centre, until ‘Kasai’ and ‘Camps Bay’ shift back into lockdown-mode. While the former positions repeated chants within tense synth intermissions, the straight four-to-the-floor stomp of the latter is lifted by sombre piano notes and dusty soundscapes.
Next up, ‘Mawansi’ drops the tempo but keeps the energy level high as an arpeggiated bassline creates one of Noordhoek’s most electric moments. As for ‘The Flute Song’, the hint is in the title: Oliver Koletzki and Niko Schwind introduce an undeviating flute to this thick jungle of a track during its peak, leading towards ‘Nimatek’, which winds itself like a snake through claps and piano riffs at a languid pace. Lastly, things cool off on ‘Kali Haze’, a fitting finale marrying Koletzki’s melodic grasp and Schwind’s hand for drum programming. As the final crack of thunder crashes down on Noordhoek, one thing is certain: South Africa fuelled the creative energy of two remarkable musicians, who were able to translate the abundance of their impressions into a truly original world of sound.
01. Early Pearl
04. Wrong is Right
08. Camps Bay
10. The Flute Song
12. Kali Haze