SMALLTAPE - The human factor

5. September 2021


SMALLTAPE - Der menschliche Faktor

With his third Smalltape album "The Hungry Heart", Philipp Nespital has once again presented one of the best German self-productions in the melancholic art rock sector after "The Ocean" (2017).
Ten years have passed since the debut "Circles", during which Nespital, who originally hails from Neustrelitz in Mecklenburg, has developed enormously. We visited the Berliner-by-choice in his cosy studio in Prenzlauer Berg, where the 33-year-old multi-instrumentalist and producer took a whole afternoon for the eclipsed delegation and was also ready for a spontaneous photo trip through the immediate vicinity.

eclipsed: Philipp, let's open the door right away. When your music style is described, one name always comes up: Steven Wilson. How do you deal with this comparison?

Philipp Nespital: Steven Wilson is definitely in my musical DNA, even if I personally don't hear so many parallels on the new album; but the man is a great artist and producer, and from there I feel very honoured, of course.

eclipsed: To what extent did your studies or your current job influence Smalltape?

Nespital: Officially, I am a "sound engineer for audiovisual media". I studied in Potsdam-Babelsberg and work as a sound engineer, sound designer and composer. And of course the last few years have had an effect on that, especially on the production. Especially the 5.1 version of "The Hungry Heart" is very close to my heart.

eclipsed: "The Hungry Heart" is released as a double CD, but the album would also have fit completely on a single CD.

Nespital: In the end, it wasn't a technical decision, but an artistic one. Compositionally, all ten songs are of course related to each other, but it made sense musically and dramaturgically. It's like a kind of act separation, because the first eight tracks form a chapter of their own and are already album-length at just under 45 minutes. "Dissolution" is the centerpiece compositionally and stands on its own with its own five chapters. Accordingly, it felt good and right to physically separate the acts as well.

eclipsed: Especially in terms of content "The Hungry Heart" differs strongly from its predecessor ..

Nespital: First of all, it's not a concept album, but a collection of songs that are only partially related to each other and each deal with different topics, such as global warming, racism, alienation or dealing with mental health. This makes the album thematically more broad and also less introverted than "The Ocean". Compositionally, on the other hand, the songs are strongly interconnected, especially in the processing of musical themes. Some themes are just too good to be used only once (laughs). Both albums have this progressive approach in common.

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