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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Go to the Ekkehard Ehlers website  Ekkehard Ehlers - Politik braucht keinen Feind [Staubgold - 2003]

After a serie of recordings on which he acted as a (re-)interpreter, Ekkehard Ehlers releases an album full of his own compositions. Intriguing and demanding, Politik braucht keinen Feind is not easy to grasp.

When you get this CD, the first striking thing is the cover: a young-man wearing a World Trade Centre  T-shirt. Add to this the meaning of the title of the album: “Politic needs no enemies” and you might start to wonder if there is any political agenda. If you listen to the disc and look at the packaging and the poster that comes with it, you can only notice that the sounds are miles away from the photos. Dozens of pics of “beautiful people” having fun in night-clubs. Some of the women here are so “yummy” that I might consider setting up a little trip in Germany. Let’s end with the trivial here. On to the music.

Allegedly, the first two pieces are also Ehlers’ first two compositions. The first one, Mäander, was written for bass clarinet and the second for cello. Once recorded, the music was arranged in a laptop, to make it sound “like an orchestra”. Expect no symphony though. We have layers and layers of sounds, little drones, larsens, feedback. Very soft, but not light-hearted: you must be able to take this; no rhythms, no melodies, no themes, almost atonal. The instruments are abused: the clarinet screams out in pain, the bow harshly scratches the cello... The mood is one of  mourning, a painful cry, an ever-present anguish. The dance freaks on the artwork look so much more out of place...

The third piece on Politik..., Woolf Phrase, is maybe a little more traditional. Written for a ballet, it’s the only track on the album that actually has a theme (for cello). A single one, looped over and over again for 22 minutes, with drones and what sounds like a church organ. It might be a little more accessible, but it certainly ain’t merrier... I see a funeral march, people dressed in black, hats, 19th century. The vibe is almost gothic (not talking about Bauhaus of course), music to a 1885 dark novel, a Lord Byron poem.

Politik braucht keinen Feind is a work of contrast. Arduous yet listenable, difficult and enjoyable. Compelling from start to finish. I read a few other reviews of this album. Too often, they tend to focus on the technique. I don’t think this is what makes this work interesting. Politik... is first and foremost a source of deep emotions, of touching music. I guess not everybody will get it, but this is beauty in its purest form.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

François Monti
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