Stratagems

John McCarthy

Rather like an evenly paced dubby mix of The Orb and Severed Heads in parts, I thought, with some quite original samples. The other name that occasionally occurred to me was Philippe Besombes – a diverting listen, I thought, Conny – keep watching the skies!

 

Jeff Koch

What an amazing record! Easily one of the year’s best. Conny Olivetti packs more ideas and hooks into a single song than most artists do over an entire album. As others have said, each song flows neatly into the next one and the entire album feels like one extended piece. It’s also never boring and there’s no track I would skip over. If Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother had stayed with Kraftwerk and they made an euro-pop album which was produced by John Balance and Peter Christopherson from Coil you might have something that sounds like Stratagems but even that description doesn’t do it justice because it’s such a unique gem of a record. Well done and I’m very much looking forward to the next move from Conny Olivetti

David Buco of Hallucination Layer

After a at least a half a dozen plays of “Strategems,” each one a
slightly different journey, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a
must-have for anyone who considers themselves a fan of all things electronic.

The various textures here are amazing and wide ranging. From ambient atmospheres
to straight-on electronica to a near industrial feel. Always emotive. The narrative,
via the samples, is deeply intriguing. There’s definitely a Kraftwerk influence going
on as well as a bit of Aphex Twin, Conjure One and early Front Line Assembly and Skinny Puppy.
Even has a modern electronic take on prog, if that makes any sense.
The flow throughout “Strategems” is perfect as from song to song, interest is never lost.
This is, indeed, a journey in sound.

Simply put, a remarkable release. Well done!

Jim Thomson

It is possibly your best yet. I see you took on board some of the criticism aimed at you for repeating the soundbites too much (as on attention span zero and treibholz ) although that does have the marvellous “level of attention” , classic!! The highlight for me on attention is “approaching hilbre island” and the way it flows into attention part two. This feel is also found and used to good effect on the track narrow-band imaging , bloody  fantastic track my friend. Acts in the name of god , show , i think your ambition to push yourself. I think i prefer you when you have a vocalist!! (yes i know , you have answered this already) i really like the moodier , er Faust like passages. You excel in the more layered , textured side of the music. I would like to hear you move into the more Phaedra side to your work. This album has been on th i-pod for a long time now , it ain’t coming off soon.
Good work Leif , really , keep going.
thank you for your gift of music.
Jim

John Kilcar

Some thoughts and feedback for the Coomander-in-Chief:
‘Once again this morning the sounds of Stratagems accompanied me on my train journey to work, a trip made all the more enjoyable by the sounds streaming through my headphones.
A stratagem,  an artifice or trick in war for deceiving and outwitting the enemy or  a cleverly contrived trick or scheme for gaining an end.
Personally I believe the stratagem here for me will be to lead me to futher explore the realms of electronic music, particularly some of its earlier origins as that’s a genre I’m inexperienced with.
Listening to the sounds Conny Olivetti has built in this recording, what I particularly enjoy is the warmth of the sound, a certain organic feel to what I’m hearing.  I’m assuming that comes from a knowledge of earlier electronic music on the artists behalf?
These sounds, although electronic, have a quality that eludes some of the harsher noises that can be generated in the genre of electronica.  This recording can sit comfortably alongside some of the Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream I have in my limited collection of electronica.
The prompt to allow the tracks flow as one really made for one fine constructed piece, and the voices from the past along with the fine cover image helped to creative a narrative for this listener in his imagination.
I’m very grateful to have received a copy of this recording, and look forward to hopefully discovering others.
Well done Conny, may you long continue to fascinate us aurally!
John_K’
———————–

Ian Mulvey

It was a journey into the unknown for me, just like it was for many of you. I left behind my home comforts and all that I hold dear to take part in the mission. Everything that was part of my daily life, that was ‘safe’ that was ‘dependable’ that was ‘what it always was had to be left behind to come on this journey with you. I knew I had to do it. I knew we were right. I just hoped that I had enough within myself to complete the mission and not let my comrades down.
The soundtrack to our journey was new to my ears. I’d never willingly put myself in this place – exposed to those type of sounds. I rapidly adapted and those sounds though and they had, what I believe, was the desired effect, a motivation to complete the mission. More than that a willingness to complete the mission. Initial fears were blown away and I was thourougghly motivated, driven forward to experience more. Develop myself. Expand my horizons. Achieve the goals. Complete the mission. Keep us safe. Return safely home – a different person with broadened horizons.
🙂
A fantastic piece of electronic music expertly and painstakingly constructed and layered. Sharp, bright enthralling. For me it had a feel of something like Barry Adamson’s ‘Moss Side Story’ – not that it resembled it sound wise – but just that feeling in the first couple of listens where I had to establish what was going on, where the music was going.

ConnyOllivetti, Thanks for providing the opportunity to serve. It was great being part of this.

All The Very Best

SirJohnnyDefault

Mark Brougham

Stratagems, the CD and the cover, inextricably linked together, and maybe unintentionally – I don’t know for sure. On the front cover, Conny sits there, a commanding officer with his his senior NCO’s and here’s the thing; his music tells you all you need to know and no more. Like orders given from an Officer to his men; he tells you what you need to know, on a “need to know basis”. A strategem….
“If I tell you any more, then I’ll have to shoot you. ”
Conny’s music, of which I have been a fan for 11 years pulls no punches, he creates moods and tension, and perfectly timed beats. He knows what to do and when to do it. This is an album Kraftwerk would make if they were more productive, where everything is stripped to the essentials. Don’t come here looking for pop or throw away tunes, what you get here is mood, rhythm, and perfectly synchronised beats. You can play this in the car, although you will find yourself driving faster! You can play this on the iPod on the train, the railway tracks will fit in well with the rhythms. Or like me, you can play this loud, get absorbed by the grooves, and bug the fuck out of your neighbours! I don’t like the neighbours anyway!
Once again he shows a thorough technical knowledge of Propellerheards Record, and the production is first class.
Ralf Hutter, take note…..
Conny remains in orbit……..

Erik Jonasson

Ännu en skiva av den oerhört produktive Conny Olivetti kom med posten för drygt en månad sen. Jag kan bara stämma in i de många hyllningarna.

Skivans första spår bubblar igång med en mullrande basgång ackompanjerad av grusiga trumsamplingar. Det stampar på bra i dryga 6 minuter utan att jag tappar intresset. Små detaljer i arrangemanget och oväntade ljud dyker upp här och var vilket får mig att lyssna noggrannare än jag gör med annan musik. Nästa bit är mer avskalad och lugn men ändå med typiska Olivettiljud som smutsar ner låten precis i min smak.

Röstsamplingar vävs in i alla låtar på ett utomordentligt sätt. Det är en stämningsfylld värld där oljud får lika stor plats som vackra melodislingor. Produktionen är som vanligt i en klass för sig med många olika lager som skapar djup och bredd.

En fantastiskt bra skiva som jag hoppas fler får upp ögonen (eller öronen) för.

Hasse FX (Hasse Öman)

På något sätt känns Conny Olivetttis nya album “Stratagems” argare än de av hans album jag lyssnat på tidigare. Låtarna är lite aggresivare arrangerade och mer dissonanta. Skillnaden är subtil, men den finns där. Ljudexperimenten är fler och har råare klang. Som lyssnare behöver man engagera sig – absolut ingen easy listening, men det är en härlig lyssningsupplevelse Conny Olivetti bjuder på för de som tar sig tiden till att lyssna på hela albumet på ett klassiskt vis – i lugn och ro, från början till slut.

Det är mycket välproducerat med en detaljrik ljudbild som lockar till flera lyssningar för att kunna avkoda allt man hör, eller tror sig höra. Variationen är stor, med komplexa så väl som minimalistiska stycken. Detaljerna finns även i det minimalistiska, då i att de “enkla” ljuden är oerhört väl utmejslade. Inget lämnas åt slumpen! Jag vill inte lyfta ut någon direkt favorit (eller icke-favorit) – låtarna fungerar som en helhet.

Personligen gillar jag att Spoken-Word-avsnitten är mer diskreta än tidigare och i mer minimalistisk anda – upprepningar med träffsäker timing. Och till min glädje, ingen (?) Peter denna gång, som på Bob Harris-vis försöker anstränga sig till lite engagemang

Kevin Stout

Dearest Conny

It’s been difficult to find the time to write to you from the front. Acts done in the name of God to build some Empire beyond the seas. Seems like a foolish plan but somehow it seems so right.
You’re latest communication has given all of the boys here a new hope. Our morale has been boosted by the top tunage you’ve created.Hurrah’s all round!
The top brass have relayed messages to say that their stratagem remains the same,sadly and desparately it goes aginst our human nature.
Must go before I start an international incident.

Keep on creating, you really don’t know how much it keeps us all going.

Yours lovingly,

Dances With Difficulty

Simon Hewitt

Firstly I should apologise for the tardiness of my review. In my defence I must say that the album has been on pretty constant rotation in the car since it arrived ten days ago.

It’s a robust piece of work. The tracks flow seamlessly one into another, but avoid a feeling of sameness – the album has several moods. It also seems to draw on different genres. “International Incident” for instance kicks off with some atmospheric soundscaping before a quite dance-oriented beat kicks in. This is expertly cross-faded into the short “Sequential Illumination” which is filled with the sounds of circular saws and other engineering works. The ambient “Narrow Band Imaging” similarly flows into “Empire Beyond The Seas”, which has more of a Jean-Michel Jarre feel with sequenced bass and subtle drumming. t even seems to feature a distorted guitar! As a first side this suite works so well together. Even a track that claims to be 6 minutes in length seems to be gone as soon as it has arrived. A good thing in my book – a long song should not feel as if it is hanging around.

Side two (as it were, in fact “Acts in the Name of God” flows out of its predecessor just as all the others have) opens in a more abstract, almost beatless mode, with vocal samples hidden among the sounds of birds and a swinging door. (This is much better than I’m making it sound!) The found sounds are skilfully woven into the music before the reflective title track emerges. Beautiful elements of world musics used here. “A New Hope” retains the ping-pong players whose game started during the previous track but gradually builds a sequenced track over the top. Another smooth segue takes us into the final track, “Human Nature”. The table tennis game continues but a drum beat intervenes and the track gradually builds into a crescendo with Churchill’s famous speech sampled.

Finally, I cannot over emphasize how good this is, how complete an album it seems. As it plays it doesn’t ever feel that this is borne of a series of instrumentals simply hung together, they really seem to flow from one movement of a whole to the next.

I cannot wait for the next one.

Kevin Stephens

Well, I have also been listen to this new album regularly. Difficult to go against anything said by Simon really, this is a truly enjoyable listen. Every time I have it on I seem to pick up a little more detail.

This also does seem a natural progression from the previous albums and is a very accomplished, professional outing. If I had heard this playing in a store whilst browsing music, I would undoubtedly have asked for a copy of this amongst my purchases.

Well done Leif, very impressive indeed (and I am not taking anything away from the previous albums either, by the way!)

Fredrik Jonasson

Nu har jag lyssnat igenom albumet kanske fem gånger.

Så vad tycker jag då? Ibland blir det nästan för mycket superlativ när jag och Olivetti
uttalar oss om varandras musik, men det verkar som det är något som går på djupet där.
Vad ska man göra liksom? Jag tycker ju att det är klanderfritt från start till mål.

Produktionen är “wow!”. Det glöder om den. Blandningen av allvar och humor är super-Olivettisk
och oemotståndlig. Det här är elektronisk perfektion med hjärta i supersize.

Låtarna är också grymt starka. Favoriter är “Narrow Band Imaging”, “Empire Beyond The Seas”,
“A New Hope” och “Human Nature”. Kanske att jag tappar lite intresse i långa “Acts in the Name of God” och “Stratagems” som följer på varandra. Samtidigt låter även de förbannat bra och det är möjligt att jag tar till mig även dem fullt ut, vad det lider. Det är inte så att jag tycker att de är dåliga nu heller, vill jag understryka. Långt ifrån. Det tar antagligen bara lite tid innan de sätter sig. Fantastiskt starkt album och det är något fel på världen som inte upptäcker detta, men en massa annan skit. Å andra sidan är det fint att få känna sig exklusiv och utvald!

All respekt i världen åt dig, Leif!.

Carol Diggle

Hello!

Received your album today and have just played it. I lack the technical terms but I really enjoyed the sounds and rhythms you made! A lovely piece of work. I will be busy in London on Friday so will miss the synch listen but my husband (Pigpen) will join in, I am sure he will like this too.

Many thanks

Jim Mills

I just received it the day before yesterday! And so listened to it yesterday. I’m not sure what to say about it yet. I found that it brought a lot of images and thoughts to mind, but I don’t know if I should talk about that, as it’s not necessarily part of the music — or just talk about the music? Unlike some previous work (Motorik), it seemed to encompass more different moods. As such, it’s a little harder to get a grip on it the first time. I guess I should listen to it a couple more times before I really start discussing it. In general, I liked the more amorphous tracks the most. I found them truly beautiful.

I’ll come back in a day or two with some thoughts…

Brin Olson

Conny’s latest musical adventure has the experimental echoes and imagination of the best of Eno, Manuel Gottsching and even Pink Floyd. ‘International Incident’, a bubbling, funky groove that moves like a thing possesed. The beautiful imagery and stately solitude of ‘Narrow Band Imaging’, irresistable moody beats and danceability on ‘Empire Beyond The Seas’, mysterious weird scratchy beats, disconnected voices and quite wonderfully eerie, ‘Acts In The Name Of God’, delicious waves of etheral sound on the magical title track, the delightful Kraftwerk-ian pulse of ‘A New Hope’ and the insistent throb of ‘Human Nature’, make this for me his finest work so far.
Thought provoking, utterly compelling and a medal of honour for Conny.

Peter Brown

I’ve been enjoying the new album. The fidelity is wonderful. It was clearly made with my hi-fi in mind!

I especially enjoyed the ‘second side’. It had a nice narrative to it if that makes any sense.
The tracks belong together rather than being one tracked plonked after another.
It suited the autumnal weather I’m listening to it in.
And it’s a lovely artifact as well. I will always be attracted to an object rather
than simply audio files.
Is this the first time Winston has been sampled in song

Stephen Carlsson

This is really robust stuff! [and replete with another delightful cover]
Conny’s best…?
I think so
Each track is a gem – I just adore narrow-band imaging – Brian Eno-esque, and the fantastic human nature – very Kraftwerk!!
It contains stuff Cluster, Kraftwerk, Eno and even the mighty TD would be proud of.

Well done lad
Well done

Robert Frampton-Fell

Actually managed to hear all of this for the first time this morning Conny. I think Stephen fairly succinctly and perceptively sums it up. The influences are evident as Stephen stated above, some Floyd also I thought I detected, but you make the music very much of your own creation and as someone who can’t play a note of anything worthwhile, on any kind of instrument, it appears to me, without doubt, an impressive achievement. I have recently learned how hard it is to become barely proficient at trying to be creative, (in the field of art, no less), let alone being talented and producing something creative. In addition to the music, like the rest of your CDs, the cover picture is superbly contemplative and that little added touch of the dedications just tops the whole package.

I admire your motivation, your talent and your achievement, so very well done indeed – keep it up.

As our prog guru said – well done lad. Well done.

Maarten Van Valen

Well mate, I have had your album on repeat the whole day! I think it’s your finest effort so far.
Love the Kraftwerkian sequencing on the opening track and Human Nature
and the swirling synths around it- spacey as hell….interesting vocal samples
around it (the radio snippets). Bits of Michael Stearns in some of the set up
(as well as those Amazonian bird-samples that creep up on some of his albums!)
– the little stabs at dub in the rhythms work perfectly.
It’s really very, very good. For an electronics-lover like me a nice warm bath!

And top marks for the artwork once again!

Jim McManus

just had my first listen, great stuff, well done.
Love the title track, wee nod to Evening Star maybe.

Ian Mccartney

Loving the TD feel to some of the tracks (A New Hope in particular).
Really enjoyed on first couple of plays – looking forward
to absorbing properly via headphones.

Ian Pope/Purgatory Brite / Black Cat Bone forum
Well done Conny my friend, another top album!

John Roussety

My first play of Strategems (and thank you most kindly, Leif)
The initial impression was – “Wow – Big Beat 1995 style!”
But it is much more than that. Sequential Illumination took it in completely the other direction. Empire Beyond the Sea took in a more organic direction – the impression as a whole is of a huge caterpillar-like creature undulating along….
It is a very cinematic album in the way that say Equinox is, or Lemon Jelly’s Lost Horizon’s is – every track has a certain feel of situation to it….
I enjoyed it a lot and it is probably my favourite of the three I have now.
I particularly like the fact that it comes in at under 45 minutes. Artists seem to be scared of brevity these days. Less is almost always more.
I am looking forward to a second listen – tomorrow probably.

Gerard Sands

Hi Conny

Many thanks for my copy of Stratagems and it was a thrill to see my name on the back. Here’s the feedback I promised. To be honest electronic music isn’t generally my thing but maybe that makes my input worthwhile somehow. Anyway I’ve given the album two careful listens, one late at night and one early in the morning, mixed in with some 70s Who, 50s Cliff Richard and 60s John Coltrane and it didn’t feel out of place.

My main reaction is how structured the album feels. I get the impression that you knew exactly how you wanted it all to sound – it wasn’t just a case of mess around with the keys and samples and find stuff that sounded good together, I think you knew what you wanted and built it up from the foundations.

That said, the first track, International Incident, was a bit of a surprise and doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the album. I was expecting something more ambient, as the other tracks mainly are, and my initial impression was “Oh, it’s a dance record”.
I generally find dance stuff pretty boring, when I listen to music I listen intently and I find modern dance music too repetitive – it’s repeat this riff 4 times, repeat that riff 4 times etc. You didn’t fall into that trap, or there was enough background variation to keep my attention, but I’d have liked it more in a club (if I ever went clubbing) than lying on my sofa.

I jotted down notes on the tracks while I was listening. For Sequential Illumination I’ve written “hiss riff and squeaky violin noise good”. I hope that makes sense. I enjoyed it but it was over too soon and didn’t finish properly, just segued into Narrow Band Imaging.

I really liked this one. I found the vocal samples in the previous track slightly annoying but this time they intrigued me, maybe because I didn’t know what they were about. The water samples in the background have perhaps been done too many times before but I was really getting into the atmosphere by this point.

It was good to pick up the pace in Empire Beyond the Seas. I spent a while trying to decide why this track had a 70s feel to it, maybe I was getting a Jean Michelle Jarre vibe off it ? I’ve written “like the echoey keyboards around 3.20”. But after that it slowed down and lost me a bit.

I liked the Pearl Harbour intro to Acts in the Name of God. I think the problem with samples is they annoy me if they’re over familiar but this wasn’t at all. I’m afraid I wrote “Boring riff descends into random noise. Maybe that piano will do something good? No, not really.” I’m being harsh but I did get a bit bored with this track.

Things improved a lot with Stratagems. I liked the didgerdoo-ish drone and the “boing” sounds. There was a wash of keyboards like a warm bath around 1.50 and then things built up and I felt really enlifted. But it didn’t need the spoken passage at the end. I’ve written “Do Cluster sound like this?” I’m not familiar with Cluster but this is how I imagine them.

More Jean Michelle Jarre keyboards in A New Hope. I quite liked this but maybe it should have been earlier in the album.

Human Nature was a bit slow and unengaging until the Indian voice sample which grabbed my attention again. I’ve written “like the keyboard sound from 5.00 ish”. A good end to the album.

That might all sound a bit negative. It isn’t meant to, I’m very impressed but it’s the (minor) negative points that come out when I’m critiquing something. As I said, the album does sound very structured and I felt that I’d been taken on a journey by the end of it. It’s very well done and a long way above what I could hope to achieve myself. I’m looking forward to the next one.

Thanks again.

Ges (NMB)

TMB / Mikael Berglund / Swedish music forum 99musik

Tja, en finer present låg på golvet när man kom hem idag.
Man tackar och bockar för ynnesten att få ta del av ännu ett verk signerat Olivetti.

Efter en första genomlyssning så kan jag säga att det återigen är frågan om ett solitt jobb.
Stilen bryter av mot de två tidigare och går från tunga köttiga beatloops till en mer ljudkollageaktig stil.
Lite eftertänksam och filmisk skulle jag säga. En del av låtarna skulle kunna vara tagna
direkt ur en film känns det som. Mycket bra för en som gillar den stilen (som undertecknad).
Sista låten bryter av dock genom att återinföra ett tunggung som man ohjälpligt måste stampa takten till.
Ljud och mixmässigt så är det ju på vanligt vis felfritt.

Rekommenderas

John-Erik Andersson
Tack Conny. Den var helt underbar.

Ante Edelmann

En lyssning = bra.

—————————————

And from the Swedish music blogg Voltage, comes this one / only in Swedish

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One thought on “Stratagems

  1. John McCarthy says:

    Rather like an evenly paced dubby mix of The Orb and Severed Heads in parts, I thought, with some quite original samples. The other name that occasionally occurred to me was Philippe Besombes – a diverting listen, I thought, Conny – keep watching the skies!

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