“Innocent Wasteland” is Viennese keyboardist Gerald Krampl’s follow-up to last years new age treasure “Timedriver”.
This time out Krampl adopted a radical departure from the structured melodic compositions of “Timedriver” to produce a somewhat experimental album of haphazard keyboard canoodling intermingled with sound effects and samples.
The over all theme of this concept album is the cycle of destruction which occurs in nature, society, and the planet – and the eventual rebirth.
Krampl limits his sound palate to piano and a maximum of two synthesized string sounds (viola or violin and cello), making it possible to perform the material at a later date with a small string ensemble. Not sure what keyboard equipment Krampl is using, but had this been his intent he would have been better served recording with the actual string ensemble because his particular string patch is too thin and glaringly synthetic. There are some great sampled string patches on the market – but this isn’t one of them.
The good thing about improvising in a studio as opposed to playing before a live audience is in the studio you have the luxury of correcting mistakes and tightening up the finished product. Unfortunately it appears Krampl released his entire minimalist recording session warts and all without going through the filtering process and weeding out the odd off-note.
When writing the review for Krampl’s album “Timedriver” I described his compositions as ... ‘simply constructed, beautifully executed, and interlaced with rhythmic movement, unlike much of the mind-numbing meditative Muzak that masquerades as ambient trance music’ … but too much of this album falls into that later category of repetitive and mind-numbing meditative Muzak.
Yet scattered among the remnants of this album are a few gems like the beautiful melody “Wallflower”.
Another track with great possibilities – but hampered by a terrible synth patch - is “Intimate Ghosts”. The eerie piano intro evokes the haunting image of a fog enshrouded cemetery, but the mood is lost when Krampl employs a string synth patch that brings to mind those cheap Casio mini keyboards found on the shelf of any toy store in the mid 80s’.
Considering the 40+ years Krampl has been recording music and the equipment that has passed through his hands these many decades, it’s perplexing why he’d settle on such an inferior sound pallet for his album “Innocent Wasteland”.
Gerald Krampl is an accomplished musician with a legacy of excellent music to his credit – unfortunately “Innocent Wasteland” is not among his best work.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on January 24th, 2010