CONRAD CLIPPER is the pseudonymous venture of a Berlin composer and multi-instrumentalist who has a focus on prepared, programmed and played piano.
He is, as the prepared and programmed element to his pianist practice would suggest, and there’s a run of plosives, a bit of a favourite on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction; presenters Verity Sharp and Jennifer Lucy Allan have called his work “a rare and tender sonic wonder”; there’s some heavyweight approval from people who really know this sphere.
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.
“This record, then, is for anyone who has found themselves watching as their dreams play out on a stage without them.”
And he’s teasing for that forthcoming record with a single drop, the almost Sakamoto stylings of “Say The Name”: take a dive. Elements of piano and textural drone begin a dance, an odd key shift keeping you on your (blissed) toes as the piano intones and that drone keeps a studious undercarriage of warmth flowing.
We’ve heard the album, of course, and we rather adore it; keep an eye out for our review in these pages a week or so before release.
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.