Modularity, transformation, sound generation and sucession are the keywords that can help open up one’s understanding of Ame Zek’s music as a kind of paradoxical exploration of "order in motion". His new album "Rostfrei"; is released on Keep It Business / Cargo Records on 6 June 2014.
One of the biggest challenges of electronic music is to give a unique voice to the machinery that is used to create it. One must dive deep down into the hidden possibilities of hardware and software, learn to understand their functions, and discover the peculiarities of each tool and how each device interconnects with others.
Ame Zek has gone down this route, developing his own deeply-personal musical language through years of experimentation. His idiosyncratic sound design makes impossible a hasty classification using known points of reference, thus opening the door to the rare pleasure of listening without allusions, comparisons, preconceptions. Ame Zek can be counted among the limited number of artists that move beyond familiar schools and genres, within their own musical orbit. His new album, "Rostfrei" (stainless), out on Keep It Business this June, provides impressive proof of his singular path.
Ame Zek’s boundless awareness is linked to his life trajectory. Born on the coast of Dalmatia in Croatia, he left the country in the 1990s ahead of an increasingly tenuous political climate in his homeland. Following a lengthy period, roaming throughout different European cities as a musical nomad, he finally discovered the magic of electronic music in a squat house in Amsterdam. From then on, his life took a new direction; he began to experiment extensively with electronic sound generators and the complex inner workings of sequencers.
In 2005 Ame Zek came to Berlin and quickly developed links with the local club, experimental, and improv scene. Through countless collaborations and sessions with musicians such as Andre Vida, Kevin Blechdom, Clayton Thomas, Jamie Lidell, or Tim Exile, he sharpened his free electronic improv skills, reaching a level of intuition that allowed his musical imagination to meld in perfect harmony with his instruments, filters, and modulators. However, he finds real musical freedom only in the zones of friction felt when touching on musical limits defined by compositional structures and systematic methods.
It is precisely this tension between the measured, analytical pursuit of structure and the proximity of intuitive improvisation that make "Rostfrei" so fascinating; Ame Zek is equally a virtuosic performer, sound researcher, and a composer of great precision. Accordingly then, "Rostfrei" sounds simultaneously strangely organic and pure in its highly synthetic abstraction.
Ame Zek is a driven spirit, seeking rest in the future-oriented drive of his music. And yet his music is not without roots. The pervasive interest in tricky time signatures and complex harmonic overlays found on "Rostfrei" springs forth from the folk traditions that have shaped Ame Zek's childhood and youth. They find their inspiration in the unusual time signatures and the improvisational game of overlapping vocal and flute harmonies that are characteristic of the folk music of Istria and Macedonia.
Ame Zek has reduced his compositional strategies layer-by-layer, in a gradual process of learning through everyday music-making. Analogously, his technical setup has been steadily reduced, arriving at a setup consisting of a combination of Clavia Nord Micro modular synthesizers, Electron Machine Drum, and Midi processors. "Rostfrei" is therefore the result of a deeply conscious process of technical paring-down, where Ame Zek tests the limits of his machines and brings the aesthetics and intricacies of oscillating sound to the fore.
The combination of different cascading sequences of Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO) modulation form the methodological framework within which he builds the complex structures of "Rostfrei". For example, Ame Zek uses the compositional technique of “the canon” in his work. In canons, a musical line is accompanied by a second, identical line, where the second is usually shifted in time or pitch. Both lines remain clearly distinct. In the case of modulation canon, the second figure alters the first and the two become one, which inextricably intertwines them and generates continuously changing iterations within a compositional structure that is difficult for the ear to understand.
Modularity, transformation, sound generation and succession are the keywords that can help open up one’s understanding of "Rostfrei”, and of Ame Zek’s music as a kind of paradoxical exploration of "order in motion" – an order that remains intangible and cannot be caught.