I remember the first time I heard Amorf. It was early May, meaning Sunwaves, and on stage was Rhadoo, a main draw card of the event. With the sun ushering in a fresh Mamaia morning, and after hours and driving minimal techno, the Romanian brought in something a little different: an uplifting piano track with his signature groove. It sat there for nigh on 10 minutes, the audience entranced—I've never heard anything like this before. What is this? you could see people asking. Youtube videos popped up with clips of the moment, all asking for information. Not even the most loyal of fans had the answer. Nobody really knew, apart from Rhadoo himself (who, despite the joy of the moment, didn't smile once) and Cristi Cons, Vlad Caia, and Mischa Blanos, the engineers being this most enchanting of pieces.
Only some months later did I learn who it was. And only some months later did I hear that Rhadoo had only been given the track hours before his set; it's unlikely that he had heard it all the way through, never mind played it out before. And then, over a year later, the track appeared on Blending Light, an album debut from Amorf, the aforementioned trio's chosen alias. It was accompanied by five other tracks in this highly distinguishable aesthetic, blending minimal techno rhythms with delicate piano work.
Take a look behind the curtain, and you understand why the project sounds like it does. Cristi Cons and Vlad Caia need no introduction: Cons did a big interview with us in March 2016, and their collaborative SIT project is one of the few to break out of Bucharest and achieve sustained international success. Mischa Blanos makes a living by performing straight piano or mixing it with live sampling to create acoustic-electronic soundscapes of contemporary pieces. He released his debut EP, Second Nature, via French imprint Infiné last year.
The origins of the project can be traced back to the National University of Music Bucharest, where Cons and Blanos both studied and connected via their appreciation for classical music. Cons, who has long worked with Caia, then brought them all together and they joined each other in the studio in January 2016. "I didn’t know much of him [Blanos] since he moved to Germany, but I randomly found out that he had moved to Berlin and was into electronic music so I looked him up and found some videos he did with his own work and was amazed of the direction he had taken," Cons recalls. "I wrote to him and asked if he would come to Bucharest to work on something together."
The goal was simply to integrate their respective piano backgrounds with electronic music—and this became the blueprint for their first album, 2017's Blending Light, released as part of via Cezar's Understand Live series, a sub-label with a focus on releasing live music in different genres both electronic, acoustic, or a mix of both. The six-track LP stemmed from a two-day jam session in the live room at the Understand Studios, and central to it was "an old upright piano that was pretty out of tune so it took us a few hours to tune all our instruments to the piano," the trio recall. "The editing and processing took us a couple of months as the sessions were very long and needed a lot of post-production work." The record sold out almost instantly, viewed by many as one of the standout releases of the year.
From there came some live performances, an on-stage adaptation of their improvisational studio sessions with the piano at the center. The trio wished to achieve "non-verbal communication," taking them as close to a live band as possible (and soon they'll invite more members to the band on the acoustic side.) More material landed in 2018, released in the shape of an EP that also marked a shift in sonic direction: long gone was Blanos' piano, replaced instead with more synthesizers, though with him still at the center. "The idea is to change our approach as much as possible in order to give the band any direction we choose," Cons explains.
Fast-forward to today, and Amorf is established as one of the most original and captivating acts in contemporary house and techno, performing live at some of the biggest events, albeit infrequently. More material is said to be expected soon, although there's not yet a set date. But this week's podcast is sure to help ease the wait: an 80-minute segment of a live set recorded at a Contemporan Party in Club Control. As with all those artists in Amorf's orbit, it's uncommon for a live recording to be made available online, so grab it now via the WeTransfer button below.
Due to issues regarding the GDPR, EU readers can download the podcast here.