What happens when some of the most groundbreaking creative talents on the electronic music scene are invited to reimagine works by a pioneer from the past? Fragments by Deutsche Grammophon celebrates music past and present by inviting some of today’s most innovative artists to rework the creations of earlier influential composers. The series begins by paying homage to the visionary Erik Satie.
Press release by Crossover Media
“When we set out to find artists to work on Satie’s music, the idea was met with unanimous enthusiasm,” says Marc Fritsch, Director Special Projects at Deutsche Grammophon. “This has led to an original and eclectic collection of remixes and reworks. Fragments moves between different creative worlds – classical and electronic, online and offline, old and new. It brings together different artforms and gives musicians the opportunity to engage with timeless traditions of making music in ways that are sure to be surprising, stimulating and satisfying, just as Satie’s compositions were when they were new.”
The Satie series kicks off in style with a rework by Berlin-based duo TWO LANES, known for music rich in both acoustic and electronic elements. TWO LANES were drawn to one of the essential ingredients of Satie’s piece in particular. “The lightness and playfulness of the ascending broken chords that evolve throughout the work inspired us to record some parts on the piano, in reminiscence of the original,” say the artists. “By blending these recordings with electronic beat elements and analogue synthesisers we were able to transform Satie’s music into the realm of our own musical language. His music has always been a great source of inspiration for us. Its minimalism and simplicity are qualities that can also be found in today’s electronic music.”
The release of “Danses de travers No. 2” is complemented by an animated music video made specially for the project by motion designer and illustrator Karim Dabbèche. Its quirky, monochrome, kaleidoscopically shifting images reflect the dreamlike nature of the music.
Fragments celebrates the innovation of the contemporary electronic music scene and the openness of its artists to create collaborations with other art forms.
Artists as diverse as TWO LANES, French 79, Sascha Braemer, Monolink, Moritz Fasbender and Snorri Hallgrímsson have already contributed tracks to Fragments. The series now continues with Christian Löffler’s take on the “Berceuse” from Enfantillages pittoresques, set for release on 28 January 2022. This will be followed by e-singles from five more artists before the full album, Fragments – Erik Satie, is released in all formats on 13 May 2022.
The latest figure to be invited to add his voice to Fragments is German DJ, composer and conceptual artist Christian Löffler, known for combining techno, ambient and acoustic elements to create electronic music with a warm, nostalgic feel. Löffler has previously reworked music by Bach, Beethoven and others using material unearthed in DG’s shellac archives for his 2021 album Parallels, making him an obvious candidate for the label’s new series. He decided to reinterpret the gently flowing “Berceuse”, the second of the composer’s three Enfantillages pittoresques of 1913.
“As an admirer of Satie’s music, it was a tremendous honor and joy to interpret a piece by him,” says Löffler, who goes on to explain the creative process involved. “For my rework, I recorded myself playing the passages several times over on the piano. I then took the best passages from these various taped versions and layered them, processing them with a tape echo device and a number of different effects such as delay or reverb. In the second part, I also underlaid the original basic melody with an expanded harmony I’d discovered while improvising. I wanted to create a dramatic arc and a break from the first part of my rework.”
As with previous releases in the series, motion designer and illustrator Karim Dabbèche has created an astonishing animated music video to accompany Löffler’s track. His stylised figure of Satie bookends a monochrome film of endlessly shifting geometric shapes and images of a dark, starlit, infinite space, all moving to Löffler’s beat.
Tracks by five more internationally renowned electronic artists will come out in the lead-up to the release of the full album. German producer-composers Henrik Schwarz, Dominik Eulberg and Pantha du Prince have all taken inspiration from the Gymnopédies. Schwarz’s gently syncopated, jazzy take on No. 3 (out 18 February) contrasts with the techno beat, bells and xylophone of Pantha du Prince’s rework of the same piece (out 1 April). Having picked No. 1 for reinterpretation (out 11 March), Eulberg has created an extended track of stunning variety around Satie’s simple melodic line.
Moving from the Gymnopédies to the Gnossiennes – the series is completed by two very different takes on Gnossienne No. 1. The rework by Swiss-German duo Grandbrothers (out 22 April) is full of drama from the start, their distinctive piano sound interwoven with powerful effects, while French producer Kid Francescoli’s version (out on 13 May, alongside the album) builds from a swirling start to take on an anthemic feel.
For more information and music samples, see deutschegrammophon.com.