The holy trinity of vocals, strings and piano are something I’ve missed for a while. I’ve heard NIN’s Trent Reznor produce beautiful pieces of music with it, and maybe Metallica with the San Francisco symphony orchestra. They tend to glide over us mortals, these sheets of compositions that can transcend time and emotions. Christoph Sebastian Pabst aims to bring this same feeling with his new album, Wonderland.
A few tracks, many takes
Wonderland comprises of eight tracks, 4 instrumental and 4 with the superb vocalist Valeska Rautenberg. The instrumentals are the same tracks minus the vocals, yet have a whole new impact with just the power of the live instruments. The title track is a salute to the kind of composition Christoph Sebastian Pabst makes, utilizing Valeska’s vocals gently over a string section and the piano. Relatively simple, and a very soothing track to listen to.
And I Run features a reverberation on single piano notes, all lingering before settling down like daffodils. Valeska once again lends her voice to grace this audio. The cinematic flow of the strings sets forth a scene that is pure and pristine, with these vocals and symphony professing their love. The harmonics work flawlessly for the surreal closing.
Butterfly Wings gives Christoph a real opportunity to diversify. He experiments with sound here, trying to appeal to the gentle fluttering of wings with clever tactile touch, The song has nothing taken away from it, the vocals at the top of the game like in the other tracks. The moments with harmonics are really beautiful, understanding the passionate nature of the song and what it gently reveals.
A criminally underheard track is I Wish I Had Known Before. It is a much more personal take on the same feelings, with powerful swells that carry the song. Valeska shows the whole range of her voice, with new levels and breaks where she uses the malleable quality of her voice to carry out a great vocal performance. The strings eventually take the show away with their effortless ability to grasp a moment.
The space for vocals in the instrumentals have their own charm. Christoph settles down with his aides for this crusade, and each moment that has been curated is spread out to make a magnificent portrait. Four of them in this case. He’s released several interesting albums each year, so make sure you check out his elegantly composed tracks here: