I’ve known Fennesz’ work for several years, I just had forgotten he was Austrian, based in Vienna. I started to look through websites to find Austrian artists — to be honest, I couldn’t think of any other than classical music composers (and I was very tempted of picking a selection of Strauss’ waltzes). I think I first found him in the early ’00s, probably after his collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Sylvian.
His most famous albums are ‘Endless Summer’, from 2001, and ‘Cendre, from 2007, with Sakamoto. They are both great, the albums you could listen to on repeat forever and ever.
Is ‘Agora’ any better? Probably not. But it’s still good. It’s what you expect from Fennesz — ambient tracks, sort of digital mixed with acoustic bits, the music you want to listen to with headphones.
Is there any essence of Austria in it? Well, not really (not that my search is about finding a nationalistic album or national hymns). However, an online search found this very interesting article (https://www.musicexport.at/the-austrian-electronic-music-scene-since-2000/) on the electronic music scene in Austria in the last two decades. So maybe there’s something that we could refer to as the Austrian scene? Surely.
Also — this could perfectly be the soundtrack to these pandemic lockdowns we are experiencing these recent months. Listen and you’ll see.