Today Grandbrothers have announced details of their third album, ‘All The Unknown’, which is set for a January 15th release on City Slang, and have also shared the album’s title track here.
On the leafy cover they invite the spectator to peer through the thick foliage of a hawthorn bush, seemingly powered by a similar sense of curiosity that informed this exploratory new record. Ditching the restrictions of their former setup, with their new record the Turkish-German/Swiss duo took a leap into the dense unknown—and landed on their feet.
The album maps out a wide-open sound-world of compositional possibilities for pianist Erol Sarp and producer / electronic engineer Lukas Vogel, who have been putting their modern and unique electronic spin on prepared piano since first forming in 2012. Forgoing the need to play every single note live, this new album sees the pair juxtapose the old and new once again, venturing further into the electronic cosmos armed with a grand piano, self-built computer-controlled mechanics, and a new sense of latitude.
The debut single and title track from the album “All The Unknown” starts out with the clanging percussive piano figures that have danced across Grandbrothers’ previous terrain, but grows with the intensity of high-octane electronica to cast out allusions of classical romance, guided by emotive, cascading keys that collide with stuttering digital percussion.
Listen closely to this latest album and you can hear an old-school hip-hop beat enmeshed in melodic piano, or feel the cold rush of techno fly past at lightning speed. “We wanted to leave the lovely romantic piano music behind,” explains Sarp, whose affinity with dance music has always been an influence on his writing process. Motifs of club music creep subtly into ‘All The Unknown’’s impeccably textured palette, which nonetheless uses sounds found exclusively within the piano. These sounds and samples are triggered and collected using mechanics built by Vogel and placed inside the piano, then extracted, processed and shaped beyond their original identity to create alien beeps, beats and tones. Melded these with the organic piano sounds is what fuels Grandbrothers’ creativity.
Sarp and Vogel met nearly a decade ago while studying audio and video engineering in Düsseldorf. Conceiving a project that would draw on Sarp’s piano skills while also providing a piano part for Vogel through bespoke programming and mechanical apparatus, Grandbrothers was formed. They brought their vision to life with debut album ‘Dilation’ in 2015, followed by the majestic ‘Open’; a swirling fusion of electronica and classical piano, which was released on City Slang in 2017. These days, with the pair no longer both residing in Düsseldorf, they have forged a new remote working relationship that involves a lot of back and forth and more time spent on developing ideas and producing. This new album documents that process.
“The main difference compared to the last two albums, is that we set ourselves a rule that everything needed to be created on the instrument in that moment” explains Vogel. “But now that this rule is gone, we’ve started to produce or record things on the computer which means we can stack up more layers" Sarp surmises. “Previously, it has always just been me sitting at the piano playing, but now we have three or four piano parts together, which I wouldn’t be able to play at once as it’s too many notes; it just wouldn’t be possible as I only have ten fingers. This new method has opened up worlds and given so many more opportunities to write music.”