In this ongoing feature we focus on releases which may have surfaced undetected, made by individuals or groups who attend CDR sessions. With music available by so many means it can be off-putting to hear of more recommended recording, however, despite the hours of music you’ve probably already got cued up to check, we’re adamant that EPs or albums in this series are worth a listen too…
Dear Tom is not, as it may sound, a written salutation to a friend, rather it’s the name chosen by three friends (Fabian, Philipp, and Tobi) for their collective musical works.* Their first release as a group, the Kranich EP was written and recorded between spring 2010 and summer 2012 when the guys could assign time together in their hometown, Coburg, Germany. Released on Fairplay Records, a fledgling label co-founded by Fabian, versions of three of the five tracks were aired at CDR Berlin sessions.
Detailing how the music came to be, Fabian and Tobi shared some background, “The basics of our songs often derive from our ‘classical’ instruments: guitar, bass guitar and piano. So some songs were built on a guitar riff, to which little by little we added other instruments, such as analog synths like Korg MS-20 or Microkorg XL, for example. Other songs we started off with a beat or with samples taken out of our own recordings. All songs were recorded and edited with Ableton.”
Picking up on the production process, they mutually explained, “Sometimes we show each other some music and when a special sound hits us, we try to create something as special.” This specialness is captured on the EP with the dreamy, reflective charm it exudes. Like looking down from the sky at a world moving underneath you.
The trio have a fluidity to their way of working although their separate roles can roughly be broken down as follows, Fabian “is the guy on the computer managing everything in Ableton”. He also plays keys and synths and, increasingly, sings. Philipp plays guitar, an MPC and sings (as in ‘Golden water’). Tobi plays bass, guitar and plays some violin parts (in ‘Whales’). In their own words, “The roles are not strictly distributed but sometimes shared. This way we often switch or jam around.”
Casting further light on how they work, Fabian and Tobi informed us, “We recorded the songs on Kranich whilst writing them, so we added more and more parts to it not playing everything live. At the moment we are working on a live setup which we have not quite perfected yet. We are trying to create a setup that allows us to play most parts live working with loop stations for guitar and bass guitar. Our aim is to use a minimum of samples.” They’ve experimented with an Akai MPC-1000 and APC 40 but are yet to fully incorporate these.
It’s through playing live that Dear Tom want to develop their sound. By jamming, “rather than creating a song step by step on the computer.” However, with Fabian studying medicine in Regensburg, Philipp law in Würzburg, and Tobi psychology in Berlin this is not easy and it’s a wonder the EP even came to be. As they admit, studying in different cities across Germany, “makes music making together quite difficult.”
Having overcome logistical challenges, making music as Dear Tom has also proven to be a way for three friends to creatively enjoy one another’s company in the same time and place. And for these three gents, home is where their collective heart is, “In Coburg we still meet most often, for example during the holidays and sometimes for a weekend. There we have a well-equipped rehearsing room where we can record easily, plus a cottage at the edge of the woods which is an amazing location during the summer. We’ve spent numerous nights in those places, Coburg is really kind of our favourite place to be creative.”
*Oh, and if you were wondering, kranich is the German word for crane. When questioned on the band name, they revealed that there is no actual Tom, rather the audience can fill this role. The listener is Tom, “Dear Tom is an invitation.” Ah!
Dear Tom’s Kranich EP was released late (ish) last year on Fairplay.