Athem, the latest full-length solo effort from Hub Hildenbrand is a body of work that brings the artist’s singing voice into the foreground, albeit in an unconventional way. To date, his singing was mostly textural in nature and/or used to add color and new timbres to arrangements. For the purposes of this record, Hildenbrand decided to create an actual language, one that would allow him to encode meaning, but without it being readily accessible to the listener. The idea was to design a vehicle that would enable him to “speak” on very intimate topics, but from a safe-space created by the opacity of the language. He was adamant about wanting the listeners to engage with these songs at purely emotional and aesthetic levels, without imposing any fixed narratives on them or tainting their individual readings with his own ideas. The result is a very personal work, brimming with emotion, but open to interpretation.
The record took two years to make (research, writing and production) and for the first time also features Hub Hildenbrand as a composer for large orchestra. The songs were composed around the guitar and the voice, but enhanced with strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion. Some compositions also feature the Cretan lyra, Armenian duduk, Iranian percussions, an occasional piano, and Argentinian bandoneon. The guitar was distilled down to simple patterns and rhythms, following the reductionist approach introduced on Mater, Hildebrand’s previous LP. And, just like on Mater, the guitar was also recorded in the church of the charming village of Woddow, Uckermark, built in the 13th century. Once the basic material was recorded, Hildenbrand invited a cast of international players to further embellish the arrangements.
Hub Hildenbrand opens up a new sound apparatus of great emotionality. Songs in a completely new language, for which no translations are needed. It’s all about the authentic expression of emotions. And the land for the listener is wide open to write his own footprints in the ground, to follow paths to places that are meaningful to him.
Hub Hildenbrand studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston as a student of Mick Goodrick, followed by studying at the Turkish Music Conservatory with Ud master Nuri Karademirli and studying North Indian Classical Music in Calcutta with Sarod master Ranajit Sengupta. Hub has been the director of numerous ensembles of his own, he has composed film and theater music and has released eleven CDs of his own music.
His concerts took him to the US, India and Russia, he played festivals such as the Delhi International Arts Festival, the Berlin-Istanbul Festival, folkBALTICA and the Rudolstadt Festival. He worked with numerous internationally known musicians and was supported by the Goethe Institute, the Berlin Senate, Musikfonds, the German Music Council and Initiative Musik.