Tabs Out | Schweben – Sketches of Plains

Schweben – Sketches of Plains

5.17.19 by Ryan Masteller

Don’t they have drones for this now? If you need some overhead footage, all you gotta do is strap a camera on your drone, fire up the propellers, and send it soaring over the landscape. There it can hover, taking in a wide swath of the countryside, recording a panorama and beaming it back to our waiting flatscreens that we’ve set up in the dens of our mansions. Mine’s freaking enormous. The picture quality is superb, and it oughta be – I paid a lot of money for it.

“Schweben” means “to hover” in German, and Philipp Hager, under the solo moniker Schweben, does the whole hovering thing pretty well himself. But instead of using some sort of video-recording technology to bring home the bird’s-eye view of the plains so we can see it, he uses AUDIO instead to conjure the FEELING of the plains. Or at least sketches of them. See, “Sketches of Plains” (nifty nod to that ol’ Miles Davis record) isn’t obvious, isn’t a full color-enhanced and edited representation. Instead, it gives us what it suggests it would, sketches: ideas, impressions, interpretations, off-the-cuff improvisations of what Hager would be viewing if he was on a drone large enough to hoist both him and his synthesizer rig, also with a long enough extension cord. (Wait, he could probably use a hot air balloon.)

Schweben wings it with delicately processed sounds, allowing bubbling melodies to suggest colors and shapes of the surrounding area. Through this he captivates, drawing you into his environment like you’ve strapped on a VR viewer and joined him in the air. But there I go – back to suggesting that you’re SEEING something when you’re actually HEARING it. I guess that means you’ll just have to close your eyes and drift off into whatever imaginary topography you’re glimpsing behind your eyelids.

“Sketches of Plains” comes in a hand-dubbed edition of 40 transparent tapes from Otomatik Muziek, but you’ll have to make like Jamie Orlando and scour Discogs for them, because they’re sold out at the source. D’oh!

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