On ‘Made of Wood’, his ninth full-length album since 2007, Oliver Koletzki embodies the seasoned craftsman, carving out his deeply personal sonic sculptures with a confident, learned hand, while experimenting with a broad range of thrilling ideas and fresh textures. The result is an organically flowing, yet decisively shaped work of art, that naturally concludes a trilogy of albums Koletzki embarked on releasing with ‘The Arc of Tension’ and followed with ‘Fire in the Jungle’.
Initially written in Tulum, Mexico, during the pre-pandemic winter of 2019, ‘Made of Wood’ is physically entwined with the primeval forests that continue to inspire its maker: In the subsequent year it took to complete the album in Berlin, Oliver, aided by numerous live musicians and vocalists, brought his sketches to life with a focus on wooden instruments like djembes, marimbas, santoors or duduks, sculpting a natural sound that’s warm in timbre, rich in groove and literally made of wood.
Thanks to the imperfection of the human hand, the album sings with a bold vibrance that stretches from the LP’s slow carnivalesque opener ‘Caravana De Los Elefantitos’ to the blue horns and Wennink’s lamenting coos on the concluding ballad ‘Turn’. Intermediately, Koletzki’s rhythmic explorations take the shape of mythic odes (‘Dear Mexican Jungle’), boisterous tribal dances (‘La Veleta’), floor-focussed shakers (‘Copal’), handpan-driven epics (‘Cryptozoology’ feat. Walter Scalzone) or subdued oriental belters (‘Serpiente Del Ritmo’ feat. ELIH) – emphasising his control over light and dark tonalities, over organic and synthetic sounds alike. Most strikingly, Oliver slowly breaks away from the album’s natural feel in the mid-section, in which the disorienting, abstract stunner ‘Picture’ (with Niko Schwind & Judith Ahrends) rubs shoulders with the synth-crescendos of the bouncy ‘Made of Cashmere’, while the 14-minute long meditation ‘A Starseed’s Journey’ makes for a powerful penultimate breather later on.
Next to the meticulous attention to instrumentation and his instinctive touch, these twists and turns underline that Koletzki feels entirely at ease on ‘Made of Wood’ – like the true artisan he is.
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