Progressive Swiss engineer/mechanic/software designer Vogel and German-Turkish pianist Sarp's ambitious second album Open explores dimensions at which their debut Dilation only hinted. The greatest revelation for anyone hearing them the first time remains the element constant to everything they’ve recorded: every individual sound that Grandbrothers make stems from one single instrument, a piano. No wonder their music was once memorably described as “open heart surgery on a grand.”
We did not want the opener of this record to be a song, but rather an introduction with sounds that the listener would experience throughout the rest of the album. The first sound that can be heard is a new invention of ours that is generated by something we call bows. They're able to make the strings of the grand piano resonate and produce a sound that is similar to an organ or a flute. After we built a couple, we started attaching them to the strings and pretty quickly started to create this massive wall of sound which became '1202'.
You usually shouldn't point out individual songs, but we feel that this song is one of our strongest, most emotional ones so far. It starts very softly and circles around this piano-line and over time grows bigger and bigger. This is something we like to do quite often: start with something very small and innocuous and build around it, add some heavy effects and work towards a climax. It only consists of two piano riffs, but due to the build-up it doesn't need more. We really love the video that Hugo Jenkins directed – it perfectly fits the atmosphere and emotions of this song.
From A Distance
This song is our direct response to the elimination of the Swiss National Football Team at Euro 2016. We were watching that game with high anticipation, and since Lukas is from Switzerland, we were very sad when they lost in the quarter finals. Since we needed to cope with our feelings, we came up with this very melancholic melody. It somehow describes our struggle throughout the game: there's a glimpse of hope in one part, but in the end, everything was lost...
Long Forgotten Future
Actually, these were some leftover ideas from the previous song and we liked the melody so much, we made it into a whole song. It's mostly pretty static and stiff and rhythmically accurate and on point, but there's this nice counterpart in the middle, where the piano plays in a different time to the rest. We chose this as our second single because it also has this roughness and density in it and leads into a more clubby or danceable direction.
Honey is one of the most fun songs to play live. It starts and ends very gentle and sweet but in between we really exaggerate with the usage of distortion and completely destroy it. On stage, we use strobes and bewildering lights to amplify the atmosphere.
Well, 'Alice' emerged during a soundcheck we had at a show in Paris, when we were goofing around playing very cheesy melodies. Since we don't take this whole discussion about Neo-Classical music too seriously and also don't consider ourselves part of this scene, we thought it would be fun if this record had a song that isn't as sophisticated and dancefloor oriented as the other ones. We placed it at sixth so that the listeners would have the possibility to calm down a bit, because we think the whole album is very intense and maybe even a little exhausting. The good thing about this song is that it displays the usage of our hammers and the possibility of playing them live pretty well. If you will, you could call this a four-handed piano piece – Erol's fingers on the keys, Lukas' fingers on the controllers. You could also think this song might be pretty simple to play, but at least one of us has always messed up on stage, so it became more and more a fun thing and even ended up on the record.
This song is mostly based on improvisation. It has a defined key and parts, but what happens within these parts will always be different. We always look forward to this song because there's some weird stuff going on: tweaking and pinching the strings, hitting the piano with a jazz brush, blindly smashing the keys and thus sometimes evoking yearning dissonances... The title was chosen because it might evoke scenes from nature. Think about a snowstorm in the mountains in the night... but again, this is just a suggestion. Everyone should make up their own mind.
Hm... we liked the word 'Circonflexe' very much, so that's why we chose the title. What we love about this song is that it has lots of room and space for the sound to unfold. It emerged from a jam session we once had where the parts we liked most were kept. We're planning on also improvising a lot on this song when we play it live and will just have to see how it goes. It'll be fun to experiment and try a few things on stage. Maybe the song will lead into a completely different direction.
'Sonic Riots' is pretty straightforward and works perfectly as the last song at our concerts because we can really crank up the volume and lights one last time before we leave the stage. Before we wrote this song we had the urge to come up with something that would make people dance and this song was the result. We feel that it is in a very stirring and rousing mood, so the word riot fits very well. 'Sonic Riots', however, is a unique creation.
This is one last calming song before the album ends. To close this chapter it works with the bows, mentioned earlier, again. Fun fact: it contains references to the children's song 'London Bridge Is Falling Down', hence the title. And to provoke a picture for the last time: imagine cycling over a bridge in the dark and the air is very fresh and clear and everything around you is very soothing and at ease. Or don't and imagine something completely different. Up to you.
Open is out now via City Slang. For more information about the band, please visit their official website.
Photo Credit: Tonje Thilesen