Thomas Koner

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Thomas Koner: Nunatak Gongamour , 6/10
Thomas Koner: Teimo , 6.5/10
Thomas Koner: Permafrost , 7/10
Thomas Koner: Aubrite , 5/10
Porter Ricks: Biokinetics , 6.5/10
Porter Ricks: Porter Ricks , 6/10
Thomas Koner: Kaamos , 5/10
Thomas Koner: Kontakt Der Junglinge, 5/10
The Koner Experiment , 6/10
Thomas Koner: Daikan , 6/10
Thomas Koner: Unerforschtes Gebiet , 6/10
Thomas Koner: Zyklop (2003), 6/10
Thomas Koner: La Barca (2009), 5/10
Thomas Koner: Novaya Zemlya (2012), 5/10
Porter Ricks: Anguilla Electrica (2017), 5/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

German electronic musician Thomas Koner (or, better, Koener) penned drone-based ambient music that followed Brian Eno's Discreet Music commandments. The dark glacial ambient music of Nunatak Gongamour (Barooni, 1991 - Type, 2010) came out of improvising with the drones and overtones of lightly touched gongs. Most of the pieces sketch a trajectory, although it is not always obvious. 2, for example, morphs from deep ghostly rumbles into vivid astral signals. In rare cases he indulges in counterpoint of timbres. 6, for example, is a duet for agonizing seal call and industrial burble. Several of them are hardly audible, as Koner toys with ultradeep listening. He already displayed an uncanny proficiency at disorienting the listener with the simplest of means.

Teimo (Barooni, 1992 - Type, 2010) focused on soft, slow-decaying gong drones in a more elegant and humane manner. The centerpiece, Andenes, is translucent turbulence that unfolds like the flight of a butterfly. The modulations of Teimo almost originate a melody, and the ominous wall of (booming) sound Teimo (Schluss) complements it with pure psychology with no melody.

Permafrost (Barooni, 1993 - Type, 2010) is his most austere work and perhaps his masterpiece. The drones are much stronger and thicker. Koner is no longer merely hypnotized by the timbres of his music. The sounds are at the same time more abstract and more organic. The horrible dark nebula of Nival is a prelude to the terrifying tidal wave of Serac. The centerpiece, the ten-minute Permafrost, juxtaposes a burbling magma with a supersonic hiss until the two seem to erase each other. Even more powerful is the slowly swirling galaxy of Meta Incognita, that emerges out of an ugly bass vibration to permeate every corner of the univese.

Kanon (1994) appeared on a compilation.

Aubrite (Barooni, 1996) continues the experiment with less imagination, having abandoned the the more ominous edges of the previous albums and indulging in more static and mellow ambient music.

Porter Ricks, a duo with Andi Mellweg, is Koner's techno project, although his techno is brainy and ghostly, predating German minimal techno. Biokinetics (Chain Reaction, 1996) and Porter Ricks (Mille Plateaux, 1997), with Redundance, are their albums.

The Koner Experiment (Revolver, 1997) documents a collaboration with Experimental Audio Research.

Thomas Koner's Kaamos (Mille Plateaux, 1998), that contains the three-movement suite and a 25-minute live performance, and Kontakt Der Junglinge (Die Stadt, 2001), a collaboration with Asmus Tietchens, actually a live recording of a 1999 performance, are a little tedious. Like most prolific artists, Koner was indulging in too many recordings without investing the time to properly scope out his ideas.

Daikan (Mille Plateaux, 2001), a hour-long composition first performed in 1999, returned him to his favorite icy, granitic atmospheres, a far more comfortable environment for his inspiration.

Kontakt Der Junglinge, the collaboration between Thomas Koner and Asmus Tietchens, continued with the live -1 (Die Stadt, 2002) and N (Die Stadt, 2003).

Unerforschtes Gebiet (Die Stadt, 2002), recorded between 1997 and 2001, contains two lengthy, calm and slow-moving drones.

The first disc of Zyklop (Mille Plateaux, 2003) contains only one (live) 60-minute composition, Une Topographie Sonore - Col de Vence, that obsessively explores a magical and ethereal soundscape of natural sounds and eerie drones. Too bad the second disc (also collecting live performances) is so confused and pointless.

After a seven-year hiatus, Koner delivered the mediocre La Barca (Fario, 2009).

Novaya Zemlya (Touch, 2012) is more than a concept album because, besides being entirely devoted to one theme (a vast piece of tundra that became Soviet Union's nuclear test site and then experienced the largest nuclear detonation in history) it is also an apocalyptic vision of an ecological catastrophe about to happen (global warming may release the radioactivity that has been trapped in the ice for decades).

After a hiatus of 18 years, Porter Ricks returned with the EP Shadow Boat (2016), whose title-track levitates a glitchy soundscape over a steady techno beat, and with the album Anguilla Electrica (2017). Its beats are too old-fashioned, and therefore predictable, to make the electronic architecture interesting enough. Scuba Rondo is the creative one, a cute and almost comic party piece, but hardly revolutionary.

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