Ark Noir - Tunnel Visions (Digipac)
Ark Noir - Tunnel Visions (Digipac)
Ark Noir’s debut album “Tunnel Visions” released on ENJA RECORDS / YELLOWBIRD.
The Munich-based collective Ark Noir explores the universe of electronic beat music mixed with
the freedom of improvisation. In performances, their music is at times raw and bleak, and at
others rich in depth and textures, but always pulsing at high energy levels. The quintet uses synthesizers,
sample pads and a multitude of effect pedals to produce sonic landscapes played by
real instruments. Their debut full-length album is set for release in June 2019 on Enja Records.
Originally formed in 2015 while each member was still wrapping up his studies at the University
of Music and Performing Arts Munich, saxophonist Moritz Stahl and bassist Robin Jermer, then
(and still) roommates, decided to form a band together. They sought the talents of drummer
Marco Dufner and guitarist Tilman Brandl, and when pianist/keyboarder Sam Hylton joined
nearly a year later, these five very unique personalities joined forces to create something truly
one-of-a-kind: Ark Noir.
The band’s debut album opens with a post-apocalyptic tone poem, based around a single, jagged
leitmotif originally composed by Stahl.
“‘A Dystopian Society’ tells a story inspired by sci-fi novels and films set in a dystopian
future. Capitalism, racism and tyranny are part of a dystopian society and are reflected in today’s
society” says Stahl. The final product is the result of a long process of composing and improvising,
both individually and collectively, adding and subtracting elements, until a sound-collage
emerged that introduces one of the band’s main hymns since its founding, “A Dystopian
Society”. The band drops from atmospheric, ambient sounds into a pulsing dance beat, over
which Stahl soars with a searing saxophone solo (yes, that’s a saxophone you’re hearing!).
The title track, “Tunnel Visions”, is a subdued yet infectious trap-beat, composed by Dufner, featuring
a fiercely psychedelic but nevertheless lyrical guitar solo by Brandl. “For me, the energy of
the song represents a kind of new-age apocalypse towards which we are moving. It‘s that ‘running
for your life’ feeling, as if there’s only one chance to escape. For me it’s a little bit like in a
video game or a Jurassic Park movie. On the flip side, the song provides that ‘never give up’ feeling,
which is also very positive, in a way,” explains Dufner. The song unleashed a wave of inspiration
for the band and its extended network of collaborative artists. A hypnotic remix by Ludwig
Wandinger/Alban Winter/Triggerboy was quickly incorporated into the band’s live repertoire.
“Tunnel Visions” also provided the name for a new concert series starting 2018 in Munich’s Milla
Club, organized and curated by Ark Noir. Now in its second year, Tunnel Visions provides a platform
for contemporary electronic artists to conspire with one another on multimedia presentations
of live music and visuals. Previous performers have included LBT, Salomea, C.O.W. ⽜牛, Dr.
Syros, Plateau Green, Ralph Heidel, Akai Kuren & Alban Winter/Triggerboy. A live version of
the “Tunnel Visions Remix” as performed by Ark Noir at Tunnel Visions Vol. 3 is included on the
album as an extra bonus. The evolution of the original tune is remarkable.
”Praha“ is a raw, energetic acid-house inspired track driven by synthesisers and heavy beats,
inspired by a crazed all-nighter in Prague. The music video for 'Praha' was made by the renowned
visual artist Strangeloop. He writes: ''A white silhouette runs through an abstract dystopia,
searching for meaning. Escaping amorphous scenes of violence and insanity, it trips and hits its
head, blacking out. It dreams of merging with an abstract God, filled with energy, moving upward
through an infinite tunnel of stars.''
The rhythmic vortex that is “Arkomplex” was originally composed by Hylton. Although the
sound-aesthetic may not let on, the compositional structure is strongly influenced by the early
multi-tracking recordings of Lennie Tristano, particularly his incredibly funky homemade loop
jam, “Turkish Mambo”. Hylton takes a ferocious Rhodes solo before the group launches into a
driving beat to end the track, as if they finally reached the eye of the maelstrom, the light at the
end of the tunnel, emerged from the beast’s lair.
The band’s first venture into adding vocals to the mix is heard on “Weightless”, a collaboration
with vocalist Hannah Weiss & electronic artist Ralph Heidel. The collective composition is based
on snippets, sketches and beats by Dufner, Stahl & Hylton, honed and crafted to become
work of epic proportions. It also showcases the endlessly creative mixing of Monojo (Joh Weisgerber),
who mixed the entire album.