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London, 2024

Voide aka Axel Schmidt is a Cologne-based composer who started his career as a drummer and percussionist. Behind the Voide project is the intention of creating music that is true to Schmidt. The result is tinted with influences from early music, northern folk and the aesthetics of the German label ECM. With his latest project, Milkwood, the focus is on balancing space with closeness, the distant and the intimate. Milkwood is a collection of piano miniatures which are united through common themes, and a wish to tie the tradition of ambient music with the one of contemporary classical music. The title of the project takes inspiration from Dylan Thomas’ radio play Under Milk Wood, which connects multiple voices, speech melodies, images and onomatopoeia, providing an inspiration frame for the piano miniatures. 


There is a lot of liberty for the listener to understand and interpret the music of Voide. If not in the spaciousness of the music alone, there is also an intention of remaining open in the information provided to the listener too — at least in the titling of the pieces and the general communication around Milkwood —, projecting a vague image and allowing the direction to be taken independently from the composer’s intentions. “Sinking” which opens the album is spacious and contemplative. “Only Ghost”, is based on simple structures — the sense of direction and development throughout the album is not on complexity but rather on simplicity. “Remain” is based on an ostinato, and two melodies balancing each other. The length of the piece creates a hypnotic journey, during which the listener is softly cradled. “Listen” follows like a breath of fresh air. “White Noiyse”, asks the following about music; is it meant to be actively listened to? Or simply here to create a tapestry of sound that one hears only. Regardless, the piece is nothing short of elements to listen to, including a charming call and response between two melodies — in what one could consider a refrain. “Warsaw” sounds almost like a mantra, a divine call for prayer ; almost static in motion. “Milkwood” rather than playing on the solemn, seems to play on the joyful, the bright and the optimistic. Surrounding each piece, the ambient sounds; the cracking and rattling of the instrument and the performer are intentional sounds. Voide quotes Leonard Cohen on his approach to production: "there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”.


In an interview, Voide mentions how he is obsessed with Tom Blankenberg’s — whose label Less Records releases Milkwood — ability at creating space, whether close or vast. There is currently a quite busy movement of DIY produced music which focuses on this aesthetic, often through the piano — and often felt piano. Milkwood, although corresponding well to the ethos, provides an element of surprise, and this comes mostly from the sincerity of the music and the composer’s intentions. It is really the artist which resonates through the music. Another important aspect to Milkwood is the serenity and spaciousness of the music. It is quiet, and solemn. Voide mentions that he perceives the piano as a meditative resonance chamber, and indeed, with this release, the perception translates well with the listener.

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