Some notes on his music by Marten Kantus.
Thereīs too much engineering in most of recent popular music. And too little religion. One finds a neglect of the evocative powers of music, and instead an emphasis on coolness. Hard to tell what weīre told by all these surfaces. Whatīs behind the elegance, the irony or cruelty? Iīm seeking substantial expression. Thatīs why I made ECHOLOGY. Trying to make a music that speaks. Trying to raise music against the coldness around us. I donīt want to stylize the crisis we feel these days; I want to overcome it by means of music. So ECHOLOGY has to do with consolation, encouragement and, for a moment perhaps, salvation. In the end itīs all about the joy of living. A honorable purpose for music, I think.
My music is storytelling, indeed. When ECHOLOGY, an undoubtedly optimistic and friendly album, was finished I experimented with harsher, dirtier guitar sounds. I changed the way I play drums from mechanical, somehow repetitive patterns to a more dynamical, natural style. I added some jazzy chords. Also, I used the bass in a more melodic way. By doing all that, I changed the mood of my music. A kind of torment accompanied the happy themes and friendly licks; a darker side of my life occured. Looking for a theme for this album, I decided to discuss somnambulistic experiences, drowsy moods and the benefits (as well as the horrors) of sleeplessness. So INSOMNIA tells six different stories about being awake, very awake, by night. Coming Home is about returning to Berlin after one of my frequent travels and getting lost in the exuberant nightlife of the German capital. German Nightmare has to do with sorrows and fears that disturb my sleep, quite typical things that have to do with German society. Hypnophobia talks something about working in the night and profiting by this certain loneliness - it could be seen as a nocturne. And Insomnia itself, the main title on this album, tries to show the many different thoughts that occur while someone is waiting for sleep to come. In Falling asleep this is exactly what happens.
CELLULOID is not a soundtrack, but it could be. The music of CELLULOID is made from a main theme with several variations: short songs and moods that are inspired by films, visual impressions or scenic ideas. Some will remind You of films You have seen. Others may evoke Your own inner images. Celluloid tries to combine the guitar playing of progressive rock music with elements of classical music, as you know it from film soundtracks. Song structure and development are less important, as the focus is clearly on the emotional effect. CELLULOID is meant to convey audible changes, colours or "audible light". And, of course, CELULLOID wants to show how film music made by MARTEN KANTUS would sound.
MALE (in memoriam Otto Weininger) is obviously different from my last album, CELLULOID: less atmospheric music, and more of the good old thing: real progressive rock. The focus lies on guitar playing, of course, and drumming is more prominent now. MALE is one of these stories you tell in detail, but you don't explain, if somebody says he doesn't understand. It's all meant seriously. If you really listen, you will know. Itīs about being born male, growing up, struggling, fighting and winning. Male is made from sweat. You'll find some classical "vintage" sound flashbacks in the form of mellotron flutes and choirs, Hammond organ, analogue synthesizer sounds such as minimoog, and lot of crisp and some meaningful crying guitars. Not music for chilling or background entertainment at all. Not made for middle-of-the-road tastes. Read Otto Weininger if you care about the mood this music talks about.
On my new album, I tried to refine the idea of narrative melody. The seven longer tracks tell stories. Most of them deal with aviation themes. The formal principle of most songs is developing variation. The whole album is based on a simple chord.
The title CATWALK is, of course, ambiguous. We know the meaning of runway (in the aviation business) for example. I dedicated the album to my studio cat Pink. She attended to the long and lonely recording sessions and communicated her subtle musical taste by slighty moving her ear. So CATWALK is about travelling together and about wordless friendship, in a way.
Critics have described CATWALK as my masterpiece until now, and I really donīt tend to disagree.
Stratify is once again developed from only one theme. The nine tracks of the new album offer a more "band-like" feeling. This time, I reduced the number of instruments used in a song, creating a "jam" feel in longer improvisational parts. The sounds will remind you of the 70s, such as a funky brass section and lots of Hammond tunes. Synthesizers play a minor role on STRATIFY. Of course, STRATIFY features a very particular guitar sound - only one of my several guitars was used this time. Guess which one...
You may think of your lung, of storms and the soul. All that is part of PULMONONAIRE. Martens last album is closer to classical music, trance or lounge jazz. This time, guitars donīt play the major role. But the clarinet, different flutes, celtic harp and a big orchestra define the character of this album. PULMONAIRE is a slow motion trip to breathing, delicately orchestrated, deeply felt.
The word AIRFRAME stands for the skeleton of an aircraft. Martenīs new album deals with the idea of "framed emptiness." Based on chords and motives played on celtic harp, Marten tries to develop a kind of never ending search for melodies and themes. Seldomly, the music concludes. The material remains incomplete, openness results.
This album is a real masterpiece. Marten always attempted to create a new genre inbetween classical and rock music. On ROTORHEAD he amalgamates the two musical spheres in a very unique an innovative way. Classical forms of composition and instrumentation meet with substantial elements of rock music. Your hear lots of clarinet, flute, and harp playing. Guitars, drums, and bass are collaborating with an (virtual) orchestra. The album once again elaborates one central musical theme. And it deals with the very general idea of rotation (that leads to recurrance, revolution, repetition, and vertigo for example).
On his recent work, Marten presents an ambitious piece of music that reflects some of his travels through southern europe. Generally, NIMBUS deals with the beauty of nature. The four tracks are derived from one explicit musical idea, that is varied in four movements similar to a classical symphony.
Track 1 (Forest) is a picture of the creatures in the woods. Track 2 (Mountain) has to do with climbing and finally reaching the peak. Track 3 (Meadow) visits the small world of plants and insects. And Track 4 (Coast) leads to the shore.
This album is, in a way, more experimental than the ones before. Marten does a lot with bowed strings, sequencers and big band brass. Classical chamber music is mixed up with repetetive electronics and improvised, jazzy lines on the saxophone. Thereīs something strange about this album, but until today, Marten could not find out what it is.
Itīs jazz and romantic chamber music that meet on this album. Marten composed five long and five short tracks, that correspond in different ways with each other. The complete music has be composed on the piano, and this intrument leads through a landscape of quite different moods and thoughts. The concept has of the album has to do with mountain climbing and was inspired by īThus spoke Zarathustraīby Friedrich Nietzsche.
NECESSARY MUSIC (2014)
This album is a study in repetitive and somehow mechanical music. Long themes and consise melodies, as they were typical up to now for the music of Marten Kantus have taken a back seat. Rhythmical and harmonical patterns are the substance NECESSARY MUSIC is made of. Track one deals with the different phenomena of rain and water. Track two has to do with soil, earth, landscape and agriculture. The music is quite colourful, the instrumentation offers nearly every instrument Marten is able to play. Of course, something very ambitious.
Recently, we live in a world of terror, fear and dying. Global desorientation and religious fanaticism inspired Marten to return to a very traditional genre of music: a catholic mass for the dead, a requiem for grand piano, orchestra, and choir.
Horrified by mankind today and dissapointed by people of his personal surrounding, Marten composed a peace of introverted chamber music, that deals with retreat from public an abstinence from social interaction. Marten combines modern chamber music and jazz on this album. The mood is serious and darkened, the instrumentation fully acoustic, combining lotīs of string arrangements with woodwinds and piano parts. Atonal an noisy elements may be taken as a sign of our times.