February 24th 2022
My anniversary release „The Birthday EPisode“ is now available on all major streaming services. Enjoy!
January 10th 2022
Last entry in my „EP diary“ is about track 5, „Zero-G“.
I was intrigued when I was asked to make a soundtrack for a space shooter app for iOS, as I had been an avid gamer myself many years ago and valued atmospheric soundtracks, which imho were at least 50% responsible for the „immersiveness“ of a game, think of the first Diablo or the Fable series.
I planned to seriously restrict the source material and complexity so not to distract too much from the gameplay. Believe it or not, for me this was a completely different if appealing approach to write music. Additionally this project gave the opportunity to play with drum loops and complex delay algorithms, something that I had not done before.
So finally I recorded two one-minute segments as demos and sent them to my client. But he was not thrilled. Being a fan of my avantgarde-style tunes like „Zwoelf Uhr Fuenf“, he had expected „something crazier“. My objection, that too stressful music would be muted after the first „Game Over“ at the latest, did not impress him and the main programmer took over the job. Thus ended my short excursion into the world of game score composers.
Nevertheless I enjoyed making those short clips, as I love the minimal music of Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Wendy Carlos. I used the transitions to try out my latest wind controller, which has some beautiful lifelike instrument sounds.
Perhaps I will record another contemplative tune someday when I’m finally through with complex rock music, who knows.
Thanks for reading my five backstories to eskalation’s anniversary release, I hope you enjoyed them. You may lift off in zero gravity here:
Now back to work on my next release, a single on occasion of my retirement from classical playing. See you soon!
January 3rd 2022
Next in my „EP Diary“- some annotations to the „Deleted Scene from Advances“ (like in the ‚Extras‘ section of a DVD):
„Advances“, the title track of last year’s album, was designed to showcase the different musical styles the listener would encounter in the subsequent 36 minutes. It was never intended to become one of the longer tunes in the line-up and I never saw a virtual storyline for it like in „Behind the Door“ or „Snow Trails“. I wanted to transform the initial musical material multiple times without ever simply repeating it. As a composer I am not really fond of exact repetitions, like the verse of a song. Unfortunately I am neither a guitar player nor a great singer, which would have made it much easier to fill up an album- I probably would have released five CDs by now, simply by writing songs with lyrics.
The track “Advances“ was intended to generally have an uplifting mood, but while working on it something attracted me to darker regions, resulting in more melancholic parts, which I couldn’t imagine to successful integrate into the existing structure. So themes like that short sax melody starting with three repeated notes you hear for the first time at the end of the organ fugue (2:28) and in the final fade-out simply pop up and are not fleshed out in that context. Nevertheless I liked the potential of these ideas, so I decided to put some of them in a kind of bonus track here on „The Birthday EPisode“.
December 26th 2021
The third piece on „The Birthday EPisode“ is the direct continuation of „Sille tanzt“ on CD 1. I very much enjoyed working on that tune, as variation pieces have fascinated me since my childhood. It‘s like turning a kaleidoscope- the very same glass beads manage to form a different image every time. As a listener, you can play detective tracking the initial musical material in its new appearances.
Back then, I wrote a lot of variations for „Sille tanzt“ that didn‘t make it into the final version (I am very critical of the length of my pieces). Most of them toyed with these characteristic „industrial“ percussion sounds. One, which finally became that „drum solo“ was partly the result of computer based composition, which was possible with a unique and very sophisticated sequencer program on my Commodore Amiga (!) in the early 90’s. Another one that was begging to be realized one fine day was the pure symphonic variation without any drums, where I play a short EWI solo. The subsequent coda is simply a rearrangement of the main theme‘s second part for bassoon quartet as opposed to the purely electronic instrumentation on the original track on CD 1. (The vinyl scratches there remind me to move on instead of busying myself too much with what is quasi historical material to me.) Finally, if you ever wondered, the title dates back to a funny episode with a then four-year-old violin pupil of my wife Sibylle.
December 12th 2021
The second piece on my latest release is „Meer oder Weniger“. The title is a) a pun: ‚Meer‘ (=ocean) sounds the same in german as ‚mehr‘ (=more), so it’s a wordplay with ‚more or less‘. b) ‚Meer‘ relates to the longest track on CD 1 called „Totes Mehr“ (again that pun). While that piece surely evokes images of rolling waves, I wrote it while thinking about abundance and dumb shopping habits in western countries which give me a stale aftertaste.
In 2002 a spanish prog fanzine asked me for an interview and a previously unreleased tune to include on the magazine CD of the respective issue. As the interview was mainly about my debut album, I wanted to write a kind of demo track, which would embrace all the typical flavors of my music. Work on that piece proved difficult for me and wasn’t really gaining momentum, considering the date of publication. Fortunately at that time I had the rare chance to meet my old friend from school days, Wolf-Ruediger Leister, who is not only a versatile drummer but also an enthusiast of world percussion instruments. I asked him to show me some of his favorites for a spontaneous contribution to what was only a skeleton of the piece that would finally become „Meer oder Weniger“. Among other things he brought along a khol, (a Bengali biconical hand drum) and a beautiful self-made bass frame drum (which you can easily pick out during the bassoon melody starting at 0:43, played with a brush as well as a soft beater). Our meeting gave me the necessary creative boost to finish the tune in time. Unfortunately I never received a copy of that issue, pity!
Musically speaking: the gamelan ostinato of the intro is taken from „Mumien (Sonderpreis)“ and the bassoon melody on top is the main theme of „Totes Mehr“.
November 21st 2021
In case you missed it on the 14th/16th of October, here you can listen to byte.fm’s portrait- interviews are complete, music is abbreviated -on Volker Rebell‘s own internet radio. Enjoy!
September 2nd 2021
Welcome to the news section!
While I don’t want to start a regular blog here, I nevertheless would like to provide little background stories about the music on my anniversary release The Birthday EPisode. I hope you’ll find them enjoyable.
First is the „Mandatory Serenade“. In my studio I like to record some rhythms and background chords to practise soloing on my EWI. (Often something evolves there which may turn up in a later composition.) On that day, early 2002, I was expecting a good friend for a belated birthday event and was passing the time improvising (he is always late), when he finally entered the room and, without thinking, I immediately switched to a kind of Hendrix-fortissimo-version of that well-worn birthday song to „subtly“ indicate, that his perpetual delays annoyed me. I remember his pained look and his lopsided smile, as he said something like: „oh, a *brand* new tune. Working on CD 2, hm?“ (I wasn’t. 6 months after the release of my debut album, I had a kind of writer’s block.) Somehow this scene stuck in my mind and years later I fleshed out that creative moment for a genuine serenade.