Mario Grönnert and Mondfish: In Two Seas
Mario Grönnert

Hailing from Quedlinburg, a small town in Germany, Mario Grönnert creates ambient-drone material using keyboards, field recordings, and samples. He hasn't always done so, however: years ago, he played guitar and bass in the experimental/ prog rock outfit AERA but eventually grew restless with the format and, eager to work solo, began producing ambient music in 2010. His debut album From Land To Light appeared two years later, which was in turn followed by 2013's Waters Drown In Stone. All of which brings us to Grönnert's latest project, In Two Seas, a thirty-six-minute split album with Japanese group Mondfish.

Though it's a digital release, the content on In Two Seas would lend itself naturally to a twelve-inch vinyl format, with Grönnert's two pieces on the first side and Mondfish's three on the other. As far as the respective soundworlds of the two artists are concerned, Grönnert's is the purer one of the two. No unnecessary elements obscure the electric piano and synthesizer expressions that drift unhurriedly through the eleven-minute opener “Of departures,” and the material achieves a subdued symphonic grandeur as its journey unfolds. Wordless voices faintly intone in the background to amplify the celestial effect of the delicate music, and the pretty New Age leanings in Grönnert's sound grow ever more pronounced in “...and strange horizons” when acoustic piano sprinklings take a back seat to choral breaths that so plentifully ebb and flow during its presentation.

While Grönnert's solo project has been operating for five years now, Kaetsu Takahashi and Yorihisa Taura's Mondfish is but a year old. There's nothing premature about the material they've contributed to the split release, however. The presence of piano playing within “Euphoria” draws a connecting line between Grönnert and Mondfish, but, that detail aside, the track distances itself from the opening pieces by flooding the aural space with ethereal swirls and processed electric guitar fragments. Mondfish's predilection for ambient blur carries over into “Slowdiver” where the vaporous soundmass feels like a collaboration between Marsen Jules and Gas, after which fluttering electric guitar peals accentuate even more emphatically the group's blissful side during “Hidden pieces.” Given the evidence at hand, one would be wise to keep an eye out for Mondfish's just-released debut album obscure codex.

July-August 2015