An album and photography project by Ceeys
Ceeys are the Berlin-born, Potsdam-based brothers Sebastian and Daniel Selke, an instrumental duo performing an impressive hybrid of principally cello and piano, but also authentic electronic instruments from East Germany, the former GDR, combining this semi-antique gear with famous vintage analog devices from the former western bloc, as well as modern equipment. In addition, they integrate subtle handmade percussive sounds using the full acoustic potential of their classical instruments and processing it with numerous effects. Altogether, they create a captivating balance of classical and jazz, pop and alternative, minimal and ambient — experimental but accessible music.
Their album and photography project, Concrete Fields, is a personal reflection on both growing up in the dreary landscape of Europe’s largest prefab estate Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Berlin, East Germany, and their first musical contact with chamber music as an original duo playing cello and piano in the edgy last decade of the GDR.
The tracks present a sensitive array of nebulous melancholy moods, combining fragile cello–piano units, creeping synth pads, vivid field recordings and fragmentary beats. Some tracks start with sparingly-arranged intros before developing into a tentative melody line. Others simply concentrate on the sublime relationship between cello and piano. Deepening the exploration of the brothers’ childhood in East Berlin and the interplay of their instruments, a particularly special feature is the use of some original restored electronic instruments made by famous GDR-based company Vermona back in the 70s and 80s. The album’s final track features the searing talents of their friend and well-known artist Martyn Heyne on his ebowed electric guitar, improvised to their original organ and cello version of Rueber.
Like in their debut The Grunewald Church Session a subtle sense for narrative and cinematic moments with the feel of a sound-exploring live performance pervades the whole album:
“It is our remembrance of a childhood growing up in Europe’s largest prefab estate Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Berlin, East Germany. Of course today we know that, at least in the beginning, it was a well-intentioned, perhaps even luxurious, development built to offer more accommodation space to families living in the decrepit buildings of downtown Berlin. But the 80s was the last decade of the GDR and now the endless grey blocks of cold concrete, steel, and glass communicate only anonymity and oppression. On the other hand, we had our daily lives, with school, friends and holidays. Furthermore, in the mid-80s, we started to learn what was to become our main instruments, the violoncello and the piano, and we dreamt only of the day when we could finally play chamber music as a duo. Our first ever classical concert together we performed in a church. After the ‘quiet’ revolution in 1989 and the fall of the wall, and throughout the 90s, the region always kept a blend of an edgy feeling of departure and a vague melancholy. We like that the politics tried lots of things to bring more colour and life into the post-revolutionary landscape, but the strange feeling never fully left us. To carefully handle all the different facets of this time period we decided to release our musical version of what the Germans call ‘Betonfelder’ in the form of a trilogy spread across the next few years. CONCRETE FIELDS will be part one and is dedicated to our dear parents Harald and Gabriele Selke.” — Ceeys
Download and stream Concrete Fields on Bandcamp.