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Carlos Cipa
All Your Life You Walk Oobah Butler , January 15th, 2015 12:47

Whether its Federico Albanese packing a small hall in Karlsruhe or the growing neo-classical presence at the Messe Stuttgart every July, a small spell has been cast over Bavaria in recent years. Carlos Cipa, a 22-year-old composer, is a product of this counterculture ambience. Since releasing his first record The Monarch And The Viceroy in 2012, Cipa has divided his time between university studies, touring Europe and working with esteemed artists like Valgeir Sigurdsson and Olafur Arnaldsnow. These are all traits of a young artist hell-bent on making his malleable compositions into something nourishing and ultimately defining. With this new release, All Your Life You Walk, Cipa faces new challenges, namely sidestepping the white noise of a dissipated, melancholic crossover market and developing the crude sound of The Monarch And The Viceroy.

All Your Life You Walk is Cipa's attempt to tackle the classical doctrine of writing an album as a whole musical form - or one movement - and it begins with a lucid, emotive 'Fragment'. We're slowly led from the encapsulating and simplistic into the irresolute and ultimately off-kilter – this is a prominent feature on the record. Time and again, Cipa manages to establish a trust with the listener before gradually manipulating microcosms and whittling fundamentals. Whether it's the slight contorting of pitch on 'A Broken Light For Every Heart' or bastardising of cadences on 'And Gently Drops The Rain' and 'Secret Longings', you're not aware that the simple laws you've entered the piece have been perverted until your concern is a cost you can no longer afford.

Working with the image of its title quite literally, 'Needle In A Doll' is particularly evocative. A soft and sleek motif is established before a maverick staccato left hand figure plunges holes into it, massacring the character that was once there. After six minutes, you're almost burdened with guilt.

Whilst we're treated to steady, brooding movements, many of the bold strokes of development take place in the record's segues. These wonderful passing conversations are responsible for the most accessible moments of the collection, but it is truly defined by its journey. There's something attractive about Cipa's reluctance to "go for the jugular", instead opting to maintain a steady flow of progress and allow these passages to organically stir. I once went to a talk with Béla Tarr's long time collaborator and cinematographer, Fred Keleman who alluded to "seeing the beauty in the long, slow journey leading to events". Carlos Cipa seems to echo these sentiments, and this is something that separates him from many of his contemporaries.

When at his most overly sentimental, Cipa is at his weakest. Pieces like 'Today And It's Gone' lack the subtlety that is rife throughout the record, instead possessing an overly simplistic emotional core. And the difficulty I have is that, as he is trying to create a continuous concept record, pieces that are so clearly plucked from a different branch almost feel disingenuous. He's undercutting the supple emotional movements he has been making throughout the collection with compositions that feel blunt and lazy by comparison.

At the same time as lacking a confidence, this isn't a solitary offering; in fact, it's deeply woven and open about it. You'd struggle to find pieces as translucent as 'Step Out Of Time' on 2012's 'The Monarch And The Viceroy', and furthermore any that possess the emotional depth that drives the piece. Therein lies the most exciting development between Carlos Cipa now and Carlos Cipa then; the young German is sacrificing intimacy for utter intensity, and it's what's separating him from the morose.