Every so often an album comes along that is clearly a very large cut above the rest and stands out from the crowd of predictable, cliche-ridden, everyday, dull-as-dishwater releases like a searchlight next to a flickering lightbulb. 'Keepsakes' is very definitely one of those records. There is clearly something that gelled between Alexander Hacke & Danielle de Picciotto when they decided to join forces 20 years ago as hackedepicciotto, resulting in four previous albums (none of which I was previously aware of to my shame), with 'Keepsakes' being the fifth.
There are many ways to describe the music of hackedepicciotto; epic, orchestral, mesmerising, mantra like. Whatever phrase you choose, there is no doubt that this is both skillfully accomplished, yet fiercely inventive and fresh sounding. Both Hacke and de Picciotto are established talents, with Hacke having joined the fledgling Einstürzende Neubauten back in 1980 aged just 15 and still performing with them, and American/German de Picciotto founding the electronic music festival Love Parade in 1989, performing in Crime and The City Solution, Space Cowboys, and Die Haut. That pedigree comes into play here, but neither are they resting on their laurels, or parading their skills egotistically. Instead their intuitive connection and intimate relationship as married partners drives and inspires the music, which has a spine-tingling and hypnotic soundtrack-like quality and a uniquely off-kilter appeal that you simply cannot create by algorithm, you just have to have it in you.
From the opening track 'Troubador' you know you are on to a winner here, with each track on the album dedicated to a friend, friendship being the central theme. Picking individual tracks to single out as standouts would be artificial and trite (I do love the soaring 'Song of Gratitude' though!). I am a big fan of listening to an album in its entirety, in the order it is presented, so it all makes sense in the way the artist intended it and I'm pleased that more folk are coming round to that way of thinking, as 'Keepsakes' is one of those albums. It has the feeling of a continuously evolving painting, with colours and tones added and re touched as we go, but not over done like so many lesser talents would. Space is important in any music, and 'Keepsakes' certainly has that, but without leaving it feeling empty or sparse. On the contrary it sounds huge yet intimate at the same time. It is without doubt a masterful piece of production work.
Catch the exclusive interview in OL where we delve into the background and mindset of hackedepicciotto further. 'Keepsakes' is released into the world on 28th July on Mute.