October 12, 2014

Den Sorte Skole Symphonia

(Don't worry about not understanding most of the words in the title. They're Danish. Because what I'm about to talk about is Danish. At least, the name is.)

I've wanted to write about music since I started this blog, and finally I've found my excuse to do it: https://soundcloud.com/densorteskole/den-sorte-skole-druo-live-2014 (play it while reading, it's amazing).

This is a recording of a live concert I was at earlier this summer (early June), with a really interesting duo of musicians known as "Den Sorte Skole" (directly translated as "The Black School"), who played along with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra. If that sounds like classic music, you'd be partly right. But these guys are not classic in the traditional sense at all.

Den Sorte Skole are electronic musicians, but what makes them interesting is their incessant and complete use of samples in everything they create. They use a lot of samples from all over the world, which are then cut and glued together in fascinating patterns. I love it. Their third album "Lektion 3", which this concert was based on, is one of my favorite albums of all time.

This concert was even more special though, because on top of their usual samples, and often replacing them, they had a full symphonic orchestra to play instead. That experience was one of a kind. The violins, before a sample, were now real and right in front of you as they played, while 2 DJ's were mixing, changing beats, etc. in the background. The soundcloud version captures it pretty well, but it's nothing compared to being there.

The mix of everything, the wide swath of cultures, musical styles, languages, and so on in their music means that their music is constantly changing while staying, somehow, the same throughout. At some point a man starts singing in French. Flutes break in. Heavy drums start pounding and an old-school Blues singer begins singing about a shotgun. And then a piano solo. (Lektion 3 has an accompanying booklet with descriptions of all the samples they used---it is fascinating.)

It's unique even though it only uses music that already existed. By combining things in a way that probably wasn't intended originally, they manage to create something whole. Classical music wasn't intended to be played alongside electronic sounds, blues wasn't originally intended to be played with finnish electric guitar, but the way Den Sorte Skole makes these all blend together become far more interesting than they were by themselves. That probably just says more about my music taste than anything else, though.

I love instrumental music. (I, funnily enough for someone who writes, don't care much for lyrics. But I think that deserves its own blog sometime.) I love music that takes me to a place. I love atmosphere, rhythm, melody. I adore music that has that special thing that allows me to be in it. This music does that but it also keeps switching up the place it wants me to go, and I am glad to let it guide me around.

(Oh, by the way, since they haven't been able to clear copyrights, their 3 rd album is just available for free on their website).