The vinyl surface noise scattered across Tim Linghaus’ lovely new album comes from an unexpected source. It would seem the German multi-instrumentalist and composer has long been taken with the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing. It’s hard to imagine someone responsible for such a quietly melancholic disc could have a soft spot for Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.
Don’t let that keep you from this gorgeous release though. Linghaus has produced a collection of small, mostly sad-music masterpieces.
As its title suggests, there’s a bit of autobiography at work here. “The idea behind Memory Sketches is to give particular memories a form, to preserve them if you like,” says Linghaus. He’s posted a series of videos describing the work on his website. “So I compiled a collection of my most precious memories like bringing our grandma to the hospital in an RV, crossing the inner-German border in Bornholmer Street for the first time shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the moment of coming home from graduation, my dad’s funeral and trying to communicate with him via a radio, just to mention a few.
“All in all, it’s a collection of intimate moments covering a time frame of roughly 20 years,” he says. “The oldest memories go back to my childhood/youth in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The latest one goes back to 2002, the year of my father’s passing.”
It’s a new classical work featuring piano, synthesizers and a variety of found sounds. Sebastian Selke of CEEYS adds several gorgeous cello performances to the mix.
Because each piece represent a specific recollection, not all of them came easily. Imagine the self-awareness required to understand a lifetime’s worth of memories, and then the complexity of trying to express all of those nuanced emotions at a keyboard.
“Sometimes it was very easy but there were also moments of frustration when I couldn’t find the right melody to embody what the memory encapsulates,” says Linghaus.
The result is stunning though. The album’s title doesn’t do it justice. These 16 pieces are far too detailed and graceful to be described as sketches.