Discovery! is one of our goals for the new year, so neoblog will regularly portray something particular, picked from the growing pool of profiles and starting with Dominik Grenzler aka An Moku. I talked to Grenzler every now and then over the years.
Grenzler aka An Moku has been enormously productive since before the first Shutdown, but the pause actually suited his music in an almost organic way, as it combines urban with nature sounds. Grenzler, the nature-loving electronic sounds explorer, took advantage of the first to start new collaborations, making use of field recordings as well as material from his environment, nature, everyday life and previous travels.
In a very short time, three new CDs were produced one after the other.
“For my Shutdown collaborations, I used field recordings from my large collection gathered during my travels. They are like some kind of travel diary. Since I couldn’t be on the road physically, I travelled with them online and in addition, I digitally explored unexpected territories”.
Grenzler is originally from Gdynia, Poland, he moved to Germany when he was young, where he started making a name for himself as electric bass player in the club and pop scene first. A few years ago he relocated to Zurich and started various collaborations with local musicians as An Moku, his pseudonym for experimental music. He is also planning on new collaborations, for example with bassist Martina Berther.
An Moku & Frederik Vanderlynden, Mirror / Of Mirrors, 2020
The CD Of Mirrors dates from 2012 already and was created together with Belgian sound artist Frederic Vanderlynden aka Virlyn, using field recordings from Iceland. The album languished on a shelf for a long time and only found its final shape through collaborations with Swiss musicians Cornelia Stromeyer, piano, Oriana Zänerle, violin and Jacki Knöpfel, cello. “The CD actually reflects a journey into the past,” says Grenzler.
An Moku & Frederik Vanderlynden, Frost / Of Mirrors, 2020
Of Mirrors offers an incredibly wide and extremely subtle variety of colours. The first track begins with a shimmering, crackling sound. Minimal tonal changing sound carpets, repetitive patterns gradually break the electronic flickering, while instrumental sounds evoke concrete, indeterminate places over and over again. In Of Mirrors, Grenzler conveys moods with an almost cinematic approach: images are created in the mind, vague landscapes, vastness and distance.
Music evoking images is also the subject of An Moku’s CD with Joel Gilardini. The opportunity to collaborate came about through Grenzler’s invitation to Zurich’s tenth edition of “Marathon des Zelluloids” in December 2019. A silent film festival where the soundtracks are performed live.
An Moku & Joel Gilardini, 2020
The CD features improvisation sessions by Grenzler and Gilardini dating from autumn 2019 onwards and during which the two found a common voice regardless of the specific movie, Grenzler explains. This was only announced shortly before the festival: three short films by US avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren from the 1940s. Grenzler states that Maya Deren did well serve as a soundtrack, but what actually took shape was some kind of “Kopfkino” (cinema inside the viewer’s mind).
The tracks on the CD are also vague, almost mysterious, and leave room for the listener’s own imagination. For instance, they have no titles, only enigmatic numberings: 5 – 11.2 – 2 – 13 – 8 – 11.1 – 10, giving no clue regarding their content.
“The album has just been nominated in the Top 100 Ambient Albums of 2020 by music blog “Post Ambient Lux”, says Grenzler happily. On the latest album ‘Where We Meet’ meets Belgian guitarist Stijn Hüwels. It was created during the spring lockdown, between Zurich and Leuven and is their first collaboration.
An Moku & Stijn Hüwels, Where we meet, 2020
“The album is filled with tiny field recordings. A few seconds are usually enough for me to give the musical context an interesting colour, or a twist. With today’s technology, even a woodpecker in the forest can sound strange…”, says Grenzler about the album.
Atonal madness and imagined worlds
“In the old days, I used to play rock and pop. Nowadays I’m less interested in harmonic melodies and more in moods,” says Grenzler, describing An Moku’s music as “atonal weirdness”, and his musical genres as “experimental music, dark ambient, drone, soundtrack”.
An Moku, his alter ego, comes from the Japanese and means: “tacit, unsaid, implicit”, thus embracing what cannot or should not be put into words and resonates or is self-evident. That sums up An Moku’s secret.
An Moku evokes distant worlds, both geographical and temporal, leaving room for one’s own imagination. Accordingly, the CD covers are characterised by a Japanese minimalist aesthetic: black and white to deep blue, mostly Grenzler’s own photographs, with landscapes and few unrecognisable people. “Minimalism runs through everything with me – whether sound or image. I would prefer to make music consisting of only one element.” he confirms.
For the time being, another shutdown born album in collaboration with Stefan Schmidt from Germany is planned for early 2021 on Karlrecords, as well as a minimalist bass-guitar solo album to be released in spring by the New York based label Puremagnetik.
An Moku und Joel Gilardini: on japanese Label Bullflat3.8.
Where We Meet: on british Label Slowcraft Record