Album Review: Hauschka – ‘What If’

Golden Globe and BAFTA nominee Volker Bertelmann AKA Hauschka’s is about to release his eighth album ‘What If’, haunting melodies, mysterious sounds, pristine ambience, minimalism, frenetic buzz, vintage sci-fi echo and complex patterns ‘What If’ is the representation and culmination of everything Bertelmann has worked towards over the past dozen or so years. “I was always attracted by hip hop, deep rhythms and weird sci-fi electronica. What If’ is a result of both that and the hundreds of concerts I’ve played, where I developed a way of mixing all these elements together”, he explains.  

“I definitely decided with ‘What If’ to make a record that might be my most radical. The lyrical piano has disappeared, and the sounds I’m fascinated by – like noise and electronic elements – have taken over” says Hauschka.

Creating ‘What If’ Bertelmann used an old Roland Jupiter 4 synthesiser and an Eventide H3000 Harmonizer, as well as utilising unusual objects to treat (or ‘prepare’) the piano. In a break from his traditional methodology – he also programmed parts for self-playing ‘player pianos’ (also known as pianolas), exploiting the speed at which they could play, manipulating the resulting sounds, and building layers to emphasise a composition’s metre.


‘What If’ is an album that represents an artist pushing his craft to its limits, not settling for the easy option of straight forward compositions and melodies, of which he is more than capable of. There is that wonderful experience as a listener of constantly being taken somewhere unexpected, a sonic adventure where anything could suddenly happen. Each track feels more like performance art than standard pieces of musical composition, performances which should be studied and appreciated, but more importantly enjoyed.


“What If’” Track-Listing:

  1. I Can’t Find Water
  2. Constant Growth Fails
  3. My Kids Live On Mars
  4. I Need Exile
  5. I Can’t Express My Deep Love
  6. Nature Fights Back
  7. Familiar Things Disappear
  8. Trees Only Exist in Books
  9. We Live a Thousand Years


Hauschka: new album ‘What If’ released March 31st on CD, download and vinyl (via City Slang records)

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