Spotted: Blurstem & Brique a Braq – Rubrik

Spotted: Blurstem & Brique a Braq – Rubrik

Today I’m introducing you to Minneapolis artist and composer Blurstem (Cris Bartels) and his collaborator on this track Brique a Braq (Derek Mount). Chris had made music using many different names before, and Blurstem is the latest one under which he makes piano centered music. I had a little talk with Chris about this latest single called Rubrik. The single was released on piano day like many other songs I’ve written about recently.

The song will also be featured on his debut album which will be released in September. I tried to wrap my head around this album and collaboration for a bit, and here’s how Chris explained it.

My favorite part of Blurstem so far, is I just started reaching out to other artists, mostly ambient artists, who I admire, to see if they’d be interested in collaborating. So it looks like over half the album will be collaborative – I record a piano piece or improvisation, and they add their touch to it, and that has given each song a unique character, all while starting with the same raw, minimalistic foundation.

How was the song recorded? 
I’ve recorded all the piano pieces on my old Wurlitzer spinet downstairs. I gaff taped part of an old sweater to the keys to keep them quiet (I was too impatient to wait and buy “proper” felt for the keys!), as most of the recordings were done late at night when my wife and kids were asleep.

Tell us something about your track Rubrik!
Derek and I met through mutual friends online and found out quickly that we have a lot in common with the type of music we make. I thought of him and his Brique a Braq project early on with my Blurstem album when I started asking other artists to collaborate on a track. We passed files back and forth until we landed on something we really liked with Rubrik. We have yet to meet in person! Someday!

And, of course Derek wanted to have a say about the song as well:

 When Chris sent me the first rough draft of his honest piece pulsed by the click of the pedal on his old Wurlitzer spinet piano, I became embarrassingly impassioned. I loved it so much that I blasted the volume, disturbing my wife at 5:30am. There were about 10 other songs that I was supposed to finish for clients, but I brushed everything else to the side, turned on the space heater, and put away the guitar. Immediately, the countermelodies started playing in my head for “Rubrik” (which had a working title of “Tinkle Tink” on my harddrive). It was the first piano duet I’ve ever done, and I spent the entire morning recording, looping, and loving the song.  I always thought grading rubrics were hilarious in school.  The teacher would list criteria, and if you met it, you’d get an A. So the title is intended to be ironic (and intentionally spelled differently). The song’s structure, creation process, and production are extremely unique, and the exact opposite of a “rubric,” or a rule.  And there’s never a guarantee of an A when it comes to art. 

Thank you Chris, and you as well Derek for this song! Looking forward to hear the entire album!

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