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Hackedepicciotto — Keepsakes
(Mute STUMM499, 2023, CD / LP / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-12-09

Keepsakes Cover art

Hackedepicciotto (sometimes with a lower case h) is the Berlin based husband-wife duo of Alexander Hacke (of Einstürzende Neubauten and others) and Danielle De Picciotto (American artist, musician and film maker, formerly of the group Crime and the City Solution and others), who have been working together since around 2008, now with a total of around ten albums between them (earlier releases were credited to their full names explicitly). Their latest offering, Keepsakes, follows a theme of friendship, its importance realized as as a result of the recent pandemic, with each song dedicated to one person in their circle of acquaintances. Here, the duo’s sound is framed around a mysterious and dark gothic sound, informed by experimental and industrial elements, noise and an ambient dreaminess that envelops the sound in warmth. The duo plays all of the instruments, sings all of the vocals and harmonies (even some throat singing), and produced the album themselves with assistance of mixing engineer Victor Van Vugt. The arrangements seem to be intentionally on the rough side, though the vocal harmonies work together well in a soft and gentle way; instrumentation includes piano, electronics, violin, bells, santoor, autoharp, hurdy gurdy, celesta, bass, percussion, drones, loops, and distortion. Opener “Troubadour” is a gentle number with harmonized vocals by both. The santoor (or hammered dulcimer) provides the instrumental base while bass, percussion, strings, and electronics build with each verse. The next track, “Aichach,” couldn’t be more different, an instrumental piece with an underlying driving electronic groove and odd percussion, with strings and hurdy gurdy fleshing out a haunting melody. “Anthem” follows, De Picciotto’s spoken vocals guiding the piece over a seemingly improvised mix of bass, autoharp, bells, electronics, and blasts of saxes / horns. There are nine tracks in all, every one very different from one another, the longest being “Song of Gratitude” at eight minutes; only “The Blackest Crow,” that closes the proceedings, seems a bit repetitive without much variation, though all taken this is a solid effort that should appeal to those into the more pensive side of songcraft.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Hackedepicciotto

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