See: Conrad Clipper – ‘Heron’s Book Of Dreams’: piano pastoralism from Berlin composer hiding in pseudonymity

Conrad Clipper, photographed by Tonje Thilesen

CONRAD CLIPPER is the pseudonymous venture of a Berlin composer and multi-instrumentalist who has a focus on prepared, programmed and played piano.

He’s lauded over at BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction, whose presenters have called his work “a rare and tender sonic wonder.”

His debut album, 2016’s Cycle of Liminal Rites, took the form of a limited cassette run for Emily Elhaj’s Love Lion label, which imprint sprung Angel Olsen debut on a welcoming world 11 years ago.

This second offering was recorded in Arizona and Berlin, and was mixed and mastered by Deerhoof’s guitarist John Dieterich – a musician who’s enjoying a collaborative hot streak at the moment, what with his Endlings project with Raven Chacon.

Hiding his true nominative light under a bushel he may be, but Conrad has offered some observations on the recording of his forthcoming second album, Heron’s Book of Dreams, out on April 30th: “Through the window at [experimental desert town] Arcosanti, I could see the desert, vast and transformative. Inside the room was an upright piano, a Fender Rhodes, and several synths.

“For five days – every morning, afternoon and evening – I sat in this room with the circular window and wrote the music you can hear on this record. Outside, intimate crowds gathered to watch some of the world’s best musicians play unique and unrepeatable sets.

“Arcosanti, AZ is a prototype arcology designed by Paolo Soleri. Picture, if you can, moonbase architecture inspired by late-Sixties sustainable ideologies. Concrete atriums screened with poplar and olive trees. The low roar of the iron forge, casting the famous Arcosanti bells that are shipped around the world.  

“Each year, FORM festival takes place there and selects 1,000 people to attend. I was not selected. Instead, I found myself there working as a photographic assistant to my friend, Tonje.

“Whenever possible, and often during their live shows, I would sneak into the room with the circular window to write and record Heron’s Book of Dreams.

The single he’s dropped this afternoon, the title track, has an art nouveaux velvet in its blood; a bright spring morning after an opium dream, maybe.

It’s also the most pastoralist track on the album, as befits the title; it reminds me a lot of the aesthetic of Snowdrops’ beautiful experimental classical set, Volutes, which we reviewed towards the tail end of last year.

There’s a violin, lamenting sweetly, wound tight into that drone tone, I swear. It brings sonic lushness and wonder. And it all comes accompanied by some pretty neat visuals.

Keep an eye out for our review of the album in these pages a week roundabout April 25th and 26th.

Conrad Clipper’s Heron’s Book of Dreams will be released by Luau Records digitally, on CD and on limited vinyl on April 30th; you can order yours from the label’s Bandcamp page.

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