Grandbrothers release “Daybreak,” the second single from their extraordinary new album Late Reflections (City Slang) out April 14th, 20223. The album-opening “Daybreak” was recorded in nocturnal solitude in the Cologne Cathedral, the iconic monument of Gothic architecture, which is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Germany’s most visited landmark. For the visual support, filmmaker and long-time collaborator Manfred Borsch developed his very own interpretation of the world-famous window in the southern transept created by Gerhard Richter.
“Daybreak” draws the listener into a special topography of sounds with its pulsating, slowly swelling and heavily alienated piano samples, opening the door and giving an impression of the sheer size of the space in which it was created. “During the recording process, we found ourselves in a highly shifted rhythm. We worked exclusively at night until early morning. When we packed up our things around 6 a.m., the windows began to shine and the cathedral seemed to awaken. This visual transformation was central symbol of the recording process for us, that’s why ‘Daybreak’ is the album’s opener,” says Erol Sarp.
Check out the duo’s recent live performance from the Cologne Cathedral itself here.
At its inauguration, opinions differed: either people loved the design by the internationally celebrated painter and sculptor or they categorically rejected it – too abstract, too modern for a Gothic cathedral. In the meantime, the Richter window in the south transept of Cologne Cathedral is probably one of the highlights of many guests’ visit. At noon in good weather with sunshine, the effect is strongest: the colorful light falls into the cathedral, travels across the floor and projects a spectacular image into the nave. Less well known, on the other hand, is the view at night that Erol Sarp and Lukas Vogel had in mind when creating the album. During the nighttime recording sessions in the cathedral, the duo was inspired not only by the centuries-old Gothic architecture, but also its modern continuation.
For the visual translation of this idea, Grandbrothers once again collaborated with Cologne-based director Manfred Borsch, who disassembled the window into its individual parts for his video and reassembled it with the music. “Manfred has been with us for a very long time, and as a Cologne native, he naturally has a close relationship with the cathedral. Richter, after all, left the arrangement of the colors he chose to a random generator; he wanted to avoid any representationalism. Manfred follows a similar path, he abstracts and deconstructs the window cinematically once again,” Lukas Vogel elaborates.
The recording process was both exhausting and invigorating, and unlike anything Grandbrothers had done before. Since the Cathedral remained open during the daytime—the landmark routinely brings in 20,000 visitors a day—Sarp and Vogel recorded at night, alone with seven centuries of history. There were magical moments of playing piano at 3:00 a.m. in total solitude. The shadows, reduced lights, and strange noises emanating from different corners of the room had a surreal effect.
The cathedral setting subtly steered the duo towards more ambient, atmospheric instincts. “On our previous album we went into a more physical and club-influenced direction,” reflects Sarp. “This album, we just said, ‘Let’s see what happens and be free to go more into ambient, or more atmospheric, experimental sound spheres.”
This is a deeply collaborative album—not just a collaboration between two unusual musical partners (as well as sound engineer Francesco Donadello and mixer Paul Corley, who finely helmed the stereo mixes), but a collaboration between Grandbrothers and the Cathedral itself, a backdrop which influences the album’s sound as profoundly as a set design might shape a movie’s look.