Lan Cao, Gregor Siedl, Wolfgang Seidel – Optimistic Modernism


CD – Moloko Plus

Modernist music, with its aesthetic-philosophical references to interior design and architecture, should not only be included in easy listening, lounge or exotica compilations. The real post-war sound has been much more experimental than four easy listening tunes and largely inaccessible to a general audience, relegated to niche shows broadcast at strange hours on national radio and mostly led by avant-garde visions of a new world. These sounds were often hard for the conservatories and music academies to accept, even if these were the institutions that ought to have deeply engaged with these developments. The spirit of the time Modernism ruled is essentially free form and electroacoustic and based its origins in improvisational jazz, in synth-space analog electronics and in krautrock, to mention just a few genres of a period that was constantly looking to the future. Lan Cao on keyboards, Gregor Siedl on wind instruments and Wolfgang Seidel on drums, chose to record “Optimistic Modernism” in Berlin at a rationalist factory, ExRotaprint. From a three and a half hour session, they chose the best and made eight tracks. The chosen title is the reference point of the group, a retro-futurist narration whose drums are highly fragmented and slippery, with cosmic-tribal intermissions exploding in a vibrant collection of effects, collisions, buzzes, jazz riffs and abstract loops of xylophone and woodwinds. The music passages are sometimes very abstract, at other times wistful and passionate: it’s an engaging concrete music, obviously not free from other more contemporary stylistic influences such as post-rock or minimalist elements. An elegant 48-page booklet accompanies the album, which is full of photo documents and deeply infused by the modernist fascinations the sounds evoke.