Go on an insular trip

As the world reels from the disruptive socio-political forces of 2016, let's begin 2017 on a more reflective note - with the help of American composer Peter Broderick.

His name is unlikely to ring a bell, but fans familiar with Danish indie- rock band Efterklang may have heard him as a former band member as well as a multi-instrumentalist who has played for artists such as American singer-songwriters M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel.

Broderick's solo output is quieter, more limpid and minimalist.

Grunewald is an EP named after a century-old church of the same name, a gothic-styled building located on the outskirts of Berlin that was bombed during World War II. The restored church has become a haven for his fellow mates from British label Erased Tapes, such as Nils Frahm, as well as other experimental classicists in Germany.

Recorded in one night, the five songs are an homage to what Broderick calls its "epic space", with a natural reverberation lasting eight seconds. He is awed, too, by the presence of a pristine pipe organ and an exquisite Bosendorfer piano.

    • AMBIENT/ ALTERNATIVE


    • GRUNEWALD EP

      Peter Broderick

      Erased Tapes

      4/5 stars

The results are contemplative, expansive and almost healing.

Goodnight takes its time over 41/2 minutes, its minor piano chords ringing in the cavern. It unfurls like a scene from a Terence Davies film, camera panning over each space until one evinces beauty among quotidian details. Broderick coos from afar, a ghost filtered through stone wall crevices.

The rest of the EP follows this counterpoint between dark and light, gentle and hard, loneliness and community. It provides the soundtrack to an insular journey, whatever that may be for each individual.

Low Light is underscored by an insistent caress of ivories in the afterglow. Eyes Closed And Traveling is more propulsive, toggling between soft and determination - imagine the universe as one's mind travels to the far-flung corners. Violin Solo, No. 1 is the odd non-piano piece, providing a delicate tracery of whimsy in preparation for the next track, It's A Storm When I Sleep.

Clearly the emotional fulcrum of the quintet, the nearly eight- minute track is a sonorous invocation of wonder. How he creates this waterfall of drone, both feverish and soothing at the same time. Perhaps it is in this state of liminality where one truly comes alive, hopes, dreams and fears roiling together.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2017, with the headline 'Go on an insular trip'. Print Edition | Subscribe