Flumina is the third collaboration between Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakomoto. And it’s much more in the vein of 2007’s Cendre than their live outing from a few years before that, Sala Santa Cecilia. Where Sala Santa Cecilia was a lush and noisy record, constantly shifting between dense electronic clatter and distorted quiet, Flumina is overtly ambient: a subtle dialogue between Sakomoto’s artful piano meanderings and Fennesz’s atmospheric fuzz.
In fact, Flumina is a ‘concept’ or ‘process’ record in two senses. First, because each of the 24 tracks is in a different key, the intention being to represent each hue and shade of the quarter-tone scale. Second, because each was arrived at by the same dialectical method. Sakomoto would record the piano parts while on tour in Japan, send Fennesz the tracks via email, and he would add a bit of drone on his guitar and laptop at home in Austria before, finally, they got together in person in New York to mix the whole record down.
Unfortunately, the concept’s pretty much the most interesting thing about it. Flumina does nothing for me, and although I’m struggling to work out why, my hunch is that it has something to do with ambience...
For my musings on Ambience, Adorno and my ambivalence towards this record, check out the full review on TMT.