Review: Ludwig Berger – Cargo (Canti Magnetici, Feb 15)

With the minimally (and ambiguously) titled Cargo, multidisciplinary artist Ludwig Berger captures the wondrous and formidable beauty of nature, both in sight and in sound. The nondescript cover of the tape shows a distant cargo truck emptying a load of rocks onto what appears to be a large field of identical rocks, the homogeneous gray landscape dwarfed by the deep emerald of the mountainous forest that extends up out of the frame. “After Nature” expands on this simple but evocative imagery with its swirling soundscapes of harmonious hums, the drones building to a gorgeous climax around the five minute mark that surrounds and enshrouds with its almost overwhelming presence. From that point the piece begins to retract, the meditative tones receding to reveal the immediately recognizable sonorities of chirping birds, rushing water, the soft ebb and flow of a steady breeze. Berger’s approach to composition (or improvisation, it’s unclear how exactly these pieces were produced) is as natural and organic as the ardent environment that these recordings capture, the piece breathing like a living thing as it moves through its phases. The end of “After Nature” sees an intrusion into Cargo‘s immersive sonic landscape when the lively conversation of two children enters our perception, an unexpected but pleasing human presence that continues into the subsequent “Before Dawn,” which paints a vivid scene of a crew of busy workers. Cargo is a work recorded with reverence and respect for its subjects, and every nuance of these diverse vignettes makes its way into our ears.

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