First, a short introduction to the people behind Windminister: This German duo is made up of Olaf Wegener and Eberhard Klunker, two friends who teamed up to produce the music that they enjoy playing, rather than follow a path trodden by many others. A brave step, but did it work?
This CD is unusual in so many respects, that it’s difficult to know where to start. In fact, it’s not even simply a CD, it is primarily a Super Audio CD (SACD), which includes tracks playable on a normal CD player.
The music is purely instrumental and played on two acoustic guitars – and that’s the next surprise. They manage to create all sorts of sounds that bear little or no resemblance to the kind of sounds you would normally expect from a guitar. To further compound matters, they use absolutely no electronics to help create these effects.
Furthermore, the recordings are all one-off originals – no overdubbing (that’s right – two guitars, nothing else) and no editing – just a single take. They are at pains to ensure that the music they put onto record is also the music that they can offer a live audience.
I think you’ll agree the background to the album is a bit “off-the-wall”- but what’s the music like?
This is definitely a listener’s CD, it won’t make you get up and dance and it won’t rock you to sleep. It’s the kind of music you put on when you get home from work, sit down, put the CD on the player (turn up the volume) and block out the world. To label it easy listening is not giving the musicians the credit they deserve, although it is easy to listen to. It’s music that has intricacies you’ll only appreciate by listening – and you’ll hear new ones every time you play it. You’ll hear sounds that you’d swear could come from anything but a guitar and certainly not just two of them.
Each of the separate pieces on the CD has it’s own identity – there’s a hook, a riff, that easily identifies the piece. The music meanders in and out of the hook, taking you off to new territory and, then, bringing you back to “safe ground”, almost like a song’s verses and chorus. I’ll not detail each track – you can go to Windminister / Bootsmann and hear an excerpt from each of them, for yourself.
Were there any disappointments? Apart from not having an SACD player, I could only bemoan what I felt to be a lack of atmosphere (the SACD could hold the key). I agree that this could well be my equipment (or my ears), but I think it’s a general weakness of digital technology (Oh, why couldn’t they have released this on 33rpm vinyl?). I’m going to have to see these guys in a live concert to be able to finally judge that one.
Apart from that small peeve, it’s a really good album of intelligent music, from two guys who obviously enjoy playing together. Bootsmann is a very worthy addition to any CD collection. Did the brave move pay off? In a word, yes.