Hemisfär is one of many small or single use aliases of South African jazz and electronic producer Alex van Heerden, who also performed in groups Pinkfield$ and RockArt. Recorded 14 years ago, 6 years before his death, van Heerden travelled to Sweden to record and got swept up in minimalism. These six songs mix South African warmth and tunings with that stark minimalism, creating some truly soul stirring music.
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hemisfär combines the quarter talents of South African musicians Alex van Heerden and Derek Gripper, plus Kate Ehrhardt and Magnus Johansson for a very interesting time indeed. Easy to call jazz but sprawled out into electroacoustic flutterings and an ambling towards song, this self-titled record seems to emphasise the silence around it, the production of each element interacting with an almost John Cage-like focus with the walls where the sound stops.
The acoustics are beautiful, basically: the trumpets and swirling electronics, which sound like someone hurling up string arrangements -- the jazz fusion of keys, sprinkled into tight dissonant corners as if it were Miles Davis himself at the noise show. It feels as if each player is testing a different score for a different genre, though in actuality the biggest dichotomy is between Heerden’s trumpeting and programming, two disciplines that seem to appear one after the other -- the music will often drop out for him to perform a solo trumpet riff before the debris-like programming starts up with its fragmented and fragile beatwork.
Though her vocal only appears in short, narrative moments, Kate Ehrhardt is essential to this record, giving voice to the feeling of humidity that van Heerden seems to be trying to capture (“The idea was to compose and record an album of Afrikaans songs, capturing the heat, intensity and magic of rural life in the 'Kouebokkeveld”). It’s the kind of record whose sounds are overwhelmingly impressive in their detail -- a stunning articulation of minimalism.
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