Hear Hauschka's 'Agdam,' a Prepared-Piano Portrait of an Azerbaijani Ghost Town

German musician tackles the fall of empires on new album 'Abandoned City'

Hauschka Agdam Abandoned City
Philip Sherburne WRITTEN BY
Philip Sherburne

Next month, prepared-piano maestro Hauschka will release his first album since last year's Silfra, with Hilary Hahn, and his first solo album since 2011's Salon Des Amateurs. Titled Abandoned City, it's a concept album of sorts, with the majority of its tracks named after places like Elizabeth Bay, a Namibian former mining town, and Stromness, a former whaling station on South Georgia Island, in the South Atlantic, from which Ernest Shackleton launched a 1916 rescue mission to save his stranded crewmen in Antarctica. The album's mood is appropriately elegiac; Hauschka's layered arpeggios and percussive patterns spin dolefully away like machines abandoned by their caretakers, while a dense fog of reverb suggests perennially encroaching dusk.

"Agdam," named for a city in Azerbaijan that was emptied and destroyed during 1993's Nagorno-Karabakh War, is among the album's more lyrical selections, sounding a little like a classical-minimalist take on Yann Tiersen's Amélie theme; listen to the song in full below. Abandoned City comes out March 18 on Temporary Residence (and on March 17 on City Slang in Europe). Listen below.

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