2 Apr 2020

Silent Green, Berlin Unschuld & Verwüstung live

    
8 May 2020

8.-11.5. HAU 2, Berlin - Chinchilla Arschloch, waswas - Rimini Protokoll

  
  
Close

Tell us the E-mail address to which the BM Newsletter shall be sent.

Close

Keys über Fan No. 2

Jahrgangsgeräusche über Fan No. 2

Barbara Morgenstern – Fan No. 2

Neue Einblicke und Interpretationen ergeben mitunter neue Räumlichkeit, mehr Plastizität und unerwartet leichtfüßige Distanz zu Früherem. Plötzlich tauchen dazwischen sogar zufällig ein paar von den ganz alten Dingen auf, noch in der Originalschatulle und mit etwas Patina. Was will man mehr?

Ein zweiter Versuch über den ersten Versuch nach einem Dutzend Jahren kommt mit einer Geschenkbeigabe von breiter Schleife umrandet und das bisher unveröffentlichte Frühwerk betreffend. „Fan No.2“ ermöglicht einen runderneuerten Blick mit verschobener Perspektive auf das Hauptwerk einer Berliner Künstlerin.

Für einen Fan wie mich wirken die bearbeiteten Wiederveröffentlichungen der Morgenstern-Songs ihrer frühen Tage (Vermona ET 6-1) wie behutsame bis weiter ausholende Remixe. Nach einem ersten Schreck über diese Erkenntnis werde ich schon beim zweiten Stück neugierig und erkenne deren variierende Berechtigung an. Die Bässe sind fetter, die Effekte wirken stärker, auch die Stimmen sind im Gesamtbild neu justiert. Die Ergebnisse sind zu meiner Überraschung alles andere als nur remasterte Wiederveröffentlichungen.

Fan No. 2 ist somit ein abwechslungsreicher Hybrid im Hinblick auf seine Zugehörigkeit zu gängigen Plattenveröffentlichungsgenres. Es ist nur zu einem gewissen Teil ein Best-Of-Album. Dieser Charakter wird zunächst leicht gebrochen durch die drei ganz neuen Stücke. Dann ist es aber vor allem die Bearbeitung und Neujustierung aus eigener Hand und der Stefan Betkes, die Neuinterpretation schaffen.

Des weiteren sind ein Remix von Thomas Fehlmann neu zu hören und auch weitere wichtige Stationen der Morgensternschen Diskografie, wie die Kollaboration mit Robert Wyatt, sind teil des Inhalts. All das macht neugierig auf den zweiten Teil dieser Veröffentlichung, die Bonus-CD mit den beiden bisher noch nicht gehörten EPs „Plastikreport“ und „Enter the Partyzone“, die diesem Rezensionsexemplar leider noch nicht beilag.

Zeit Online über BM

Zeit.de 2009 Jahresrückblick

(...) Der zerstreute Musikjournalist zieht B.M. ein Jahr nach dem Erscheinen aus einem Stapel ungehörter CDs hervor: Oh, hab ich das übersehen? Dann schlägt der Blitz ein. Lieder in deutscher Sprache über die Wirrsal des modernen Lebens, das Hin- und Hergezogensein zwischen Gefühlen, Gedanken, Wünschen und Pflichten. Und das Nachsinnen darüber, ob die Existenz nicht anders sein könnte, wäre man nicht der, der man ist. Kunstlied goes Elektronisches Liedermaching. Diese Berlinerin - sie ist unsere Laurie Anderson!

Pop Matters über BM

It certainly isn’t an anomaly these days, but something seems startling and slightly disconcerting about the record that bridges nature and computer technology. BM, Barbara Morgenstern’s sixth full-length release, inhabits the place where leaves fall while ones and zeroes flit back and forth in the air. Granted, Morgenstern is one of the more subtle artists to be defined by the word “electronica”. Sometimes all she needs is a piano and her voice. Then the manipulation breaks in and the listener is half in a cloud of William Blake’s poetry and half in a tunnel that leads straight to Neo’s matrix.

“Driving My Car” opens the affair with staccato piano notes and low-volume, screeching feedback. More instrumentation arrives, along with the romantic poetry of the line, “All the ice will melt / Glaciers, rocks, will get lakes/ And kids won’t see eternity / Here comes the night”. It continues to build until the last minute, when it breaks down into backwards looping that skulks into the next song. It’s a strong beginning enhanced by the transition into the also great second track, “Come to Berlin”.

Robert Wyatt, no stranger to odd songs himself, has spent a career sounding like a classic folk singer singing songs from another galaxy. He joins Morgenstern for “Camouflage”, a lament that gathers weight from the near-whispering vocals of both singers. “Belief is just a camouflage for fear”, they moan on a track so haunting it classifies as downright depressing. Songs like this show no matter how many separate tracks appear on one song, Morgenstern still works with the heart of a minimalist. Space is respected as much for what it is, as for what fills it, which works best with evidence of white noise behind her and less well when piano notes are being hit too quickly, disallowing sustainment. Because of this, a handful of tracks remain in the background, though it’s clear they weren’t meant to do so.

Despite the one-two punch of the opening and many great songs within, BM slips a bit here and there. The whole isn’t as effective as it could be. BM doesn’t come together very well. Individual songs certainly stand out: “Morbus Basedow” with its crunchy techno backbone; “Come to Berlin” manages to sound like a glittering commercial for joy. But going from simple piano ballads to more layered bit and byte numbers only creates a sense of disjointedness. It’s not that this formula can’t work. In fact, sometimes it seems the weakness lies in the intentional separation of sides, or it hasn’t been sequenced properly. Thirteen songs manages to be too lengthy: It sometimes gives up compelling for pretty and overall vision for a collection of moments.

Morgenstern is certainly capable and carries herself as an artist in love with both pop sounds and the noises of the world. While BM will not have leave you questioning her abilities, enough evidence of one great focus does not exist here. This doesn’t make for a bad record. In fact, it’s very good. Morgenstern has raised the bar through the years, but this time she has delivered below its mark. As we continue to be enamored with technology, an assumed interest in nature grows (with the Green revolution inspiring and scaring us). Artists like Barbara Morgenstern (and Tim Hecker and Jan Jelinek to name a couple more) stand in an interesting place. Their intimate work can sound like the hum of this planet. Morgenstern captured this on her last record, The Grass is Always Greener and certainly she will find it again.

Brainwashed über BM

The fifth solo album in Morgenstern's decade-long career marks a radical and somewhat bewildering departure from her previous releases. While her label claims she is "Berlin's queen of fragile and poetic electro-pop,"—and goes on to list a bunch of electronic acts she has done work with or for—nearly all electronics have been jettisoned from their central position and replaced with anachronistic piano-based rock.

That is certainly an odd strategy, in light of the fact that her previous album (2006’s The Grass is Always Greener) was probably her most popular and beloved and even featured something of a minor hit in "The Operator." However, her new material shows newfound depth and her sound is uniquely hers, so it is unlikely that she has become mentally unmoored or is acting on a contrarian impulse to alienate her fanbase.

BM attempts to thread together a number of seemingly conflicting and disparate influences—purportedly Brecht and Weil, definitely '80s rock, accidentally Tori Amos (presumably), and possibly Gong—and the result is a mixture of surprising successes, unevenness, and occasional forgettability that sounds like it came from an indeterminate previous decade.

Morgenstern has chosen some strong complementary collaborators for this new direction. Most obviously, Robert Wyatt, who wrote a song for the album, "Camouflage," and joins Barbara on a duet. However, it is the lesser-known musicians that provide many of the subtle touches that prevent the album from falling prey to flatness and sameness. Sven Janetzko’s guitar work provides some welcome adrenaline and propulsion to poppier moments like "Driving My Car," "Come to Berlin," and "Reich & Beruhmt," and his slide playing is invariably tasteful and well-placed. Julia Kent's cello work is also quite sympathetic and adds much color and depth to the sparse songs, especially when it is dissonant.

"Come to Berlin" is the album's single, which is appropriate, as it is much more muscular and immediate than anything else on the album. I am hesitant to say that it "rocks like a narcoleptic, Teutonic Pat Benatar," but that is exactly what it does and no other descriptive terms can really convey that very specific (and pleasing) characteristic. 

"Meine Aufgabe" is also particularly striking (and probably my favorite track). It is built upon a charmingly lurching and simple organ pattern and is augmented by distant squealing and sliding strings. The chorus even (seamlessly) features a full choir. I would love to see her pursue this direction further. Despite its bold artistic departure, the bulk of the album feels very transitional: this is the only track that seems fully formed and unable to be improved upon. I am deeply curious to see where she goes from here.

My initial impression of the album was not entirely favorable, but subsequent listens have warmed me to it quite a bit. There is a lot to like—inspired and subtle touches loom in the background of nearly every song—however, I still find it to be frustratingly understated-. It seems like she will have a hard time luring new listeners into her wintry, elegant world. But I suspect that she doesn't care.

Bitch Magazine über BM

Pitchfork über BM

Toiling for almost a decade on Gudrun Gut's Monika imprint, singer, pianist, and producer Barbara Morgenstern has continually evolved her sound, from the bleepy indie electronica of her early days to a more confident brand of techno pop in recent years. Despite her progress, it wasn't until 2006's quasi-breakout single "The Operator" that folks outside her hometown scene in Berlin began to take notice. During those years as electro-pop's underappreciated shapeshifter, she gradually began to focus more on her own unique vocals, and now they serve as the central component (alongside the piano) of her current material. Morgenstern's fifth solo album, BM (her initials, naturally), is the artist's most personal yet, and finds her further shedding the digital elements of her previous records.

While her present tracks could fairly be described as avant-pop (think newcomer Lia Ices or Björk, even), Morgenstern is undoubtedly an electronic musician at heart. Even mostly organic numbers like album opener "Driving My Car" follow the build-and-release configuration so distinct to techno. In this song and others, instruments introduce themselves progressively at staggered intervals before congregating at a chorus or a stirring coda. "Reich und Berühmt" ("Rich and Famous") shares this quality, its stiff drums and treated guitars joining together with Morgenstern's emotive coos during an anthemic chorus section. These complex arrangements add distinctiveness to BM but also a hint of inaccessibility; the record sometimes feels difficult to penetrate.

That's not to say that BM is any less accomplished than past triumphs Nichts Muss or The Grass Is Always Greener, even if it's far less immediate. Morgenstern is more ambitious here and stingier with moments of melodic sweetness; as such, there's nothing as instantly compelling or hooky as "The Operator" on this album. "Morbus Basedow" probably comes closest, with its aggressive beat pattern that brings to mind the wallop of 2006's extraterrestrial banger "Get UR Fleece On" from Glasgow-based producer Izu. Outside of this lone club moment, though, BM is principally concerned with drawing emotion and intimacy from its circuitous instrumentals and technically intricate vocal pop.

In aesthetic terms, the record feels crafted with wintertime night drives in mind; its coloring and textures are classically (and unmistakably) German. Haunting and guitar driven, "Come to Berlin" utilizes Low-era Bowie/Eno arrangements to appraise her currently fashionable city. When Morgenstern asks her audience, "Isn't Berlin the place to be?" there's more than a touch of sarcasm in her query. At times the personal becomes political, and on "Camouflage", a darkly romantic duet with Robert Wyatt that took form over mail correspondence, the singer offers a skeptical stance on spirituality. Over a spooky, piano-based backdrop, she intertwines her vocals with Wyatt's to argue, "Belief is just a camouflage for fear." Combined with BM's chilly sonic underpinnings, the lyrical content of these tracks might imply a coldness or detachment, but Morgenstern's desire here to examine both internal and social conflicts (not to mention the urgency of her singing and piano playing) suggest that she's as engaged as ever.

BM's difficult instrumental pieces are no less adventurous than its electro- and piano-pop moments and contribute to the album's tendency, at times, to feel unnecessarily heady. Asymmetrical and vocal-less, "My Velocity" layers crashing piano noises with screeching guitars overtop an insistent digital drumbeat. It's the sort of conceptual number that fascinates me on first listen and then instantly dives into the never-listen-again section of my brain. Songs like this and others such as "Hustefuchs" that seek to frighten and confound make for an effort that swaps a good portion of its approachability for creative advancement. That's a trade-off that close followers of indie and electronic music are inclined to celebrate, even though (or perhaps because) it will scare away most of the general public. But BM is an album that even daring listeners will need to sit with for four, five listens before getting comfortable. In an age of vast, immediate file sharing and countless other options such as, I dunno, Chinese Democracy, it may not get its due.

SF Bay Guardian über BM

It's so nice to have a record come out during the time of year it most sounds like. The latest from Barbara Morgenstern finds her moving further away from her electro/techno beginnings toward focused, elegant songwriting filled with frosty melodies and lush piano. Her voice sounds more assured than ever on this record made for long winter walks, ones buoyed by the simple pleasure of seeing your breath turn into clouds. Morgenstern has tapped into the gentle strength and somber beauty of recent outings by PJ Harvey and Marianne Faithfull, and like her German comrades, the Notwist, she has found a great balance in melding electronics and more traditional instrumentation with crisp and classy results.

Der Standard über BM

Orchestrale Epik statt Elektro-Gefrickel: Das neue Album der Berlinerin weiß mit einer überwältigend vielschichtigen Soundtapete zu überraschen.

Reich und berühmt ist Barbara Morgenstern trotz ihres schon bisher beachtlichen Erfolges in den Nischen deutschsprachigen Elektropops bis dato nicht. Das neue Album der Berlinerin mit dem knappen Titel "bm" weiß zu überraschen. Weniger mit den Texten, mit denen Morgenstern die dreizehn Tracks der Platte versehen hat und die viel von schon bisher Gekanntem, Geschätztem und bisweilen auch Verwünschtem enthalten. Die unerträgliche Leichtigkeit des Seins in der deutschen Hauptstadt, zum Beispiel.

Nein, das eigentlich Neue an "bm" ist Morgensterns Metamorphose weg von allzu viel Elektrogefrickel und Gepiepe, hin zum Bechstein-Flügel, beinahe Contriva-artigen Arrangements und klassischen Songstrukturen. Das hätte, wäre in Barbara Morgenstern nicht ohnehin eine grandiose Pianistin verloren gegangen, auch mächtig daneben gehen können. Tut es aber nicht. Streicherin Julia Kent von der New Yorker Band Antony and the Johnsons stand der 37-Jährigen ebenso zur Seite wie Robert Wyatt, 63-jährige Soft Machine-Legende aus England. Die Arrangements sind ein wahres Kunstwerk, wie sie im bisherigen Musikjahr 2008 noch nicht aus Deutschland zu uns herabgeklungen haben. Und wohl auch kein zweites Mal mehr werden.

Come to Berlin

Man könnte das, was Barbara Morgenstern auf ihrem aktuellen Album macht, gut und gerne als "Chansons" bezeichnen. Wenn sie, wie etwa im Stück "Come to Berlin" die Fixiertheit von Besuchern der deutschen Metropole auf deren charmant kaschierte Abgewohntheit beklagt. Und damit auf die zusehends nivellierende und von Stadtplanern verschuldete Veränderung der Stadt, in der sie seit 1994 lebt, hinweist. Trotzdem, würden Morgensterns Texte nicht von so klassisch anmutender Epik melodisch eingebettet, sie wären wenig mehr als ein Widerhall ihrer früheren, weit elektronischer umgesetzten Stücke. Im neuen Gewand wirken sie authentisch, überlegt, stringent.

"bm" ist eine Platte für Sonntagnachmittage und Montage, an denen der Kopf nach Klarheit und das Herz nach Wärme sucht.

Wiener Zeitung über BM

Barbara Morgenstern bleibt nicht stehen. Live auf der Bühne, hinter ihrem Keyboard, wiegt und wippt die Berliner Musikerin ihren Körper zum Takt ihrer mal subtilen, mal eminent tanzbaren Elektromusik. Und auch von Album zu Album ist von künstlerischem Stillstand wenig zu spüren. Auf ihrer nunmehr fünften Platte zeigt sie sich so unberechenbar wie noch nie: Gesungen wird auf Deutsch, Englisch und sogar auf Polnisch. Eine veritable Überraschung gelingt ihr auf "Camouflage", wenn plötzlich die Stimme Robert Wyatts als Duettpartner erklingt (der seinen berührenden Gesangspart – wie immer – nur auf digitalem Postweg beisteuerte).

Die das Vorgängerwerk "The Grass Is Always Greener" noch kennzeichnende Leichtigkeit ist auf dem reduktionistisch betitelten "BM" einer betörenden, aber auch angenehm verstörenden Vielseitigkeit gewichen. Eingängige Popstrukturen treffen auf komplexe Arrangements, kakophonische Störgeräusche werden gekreuzt mit deutlichen Anleihen bei den Songs von Brecht/Weill, rockige Gitarrenriffs und schöne Streicher-Arrangements setzen die Akzente.

Das Album bietet Highlights in Serie: "Morbus Basedow" ist trotz des maroden Titels ein beschwingter Popsong; die treibende Single "Come To Berlin" eignet sich kaum als Werbelied der Tourismusbehörde, und das elegische "Jakarta" demonstriert Morgensterns neue Klangvielfalt.

Für den offenen Sound auf "BM" verantwortlich ist nicht zuletzt der Bechstein-Flügel im Großen Saal des Berliner Hauses der Kulturen, in dem die Aufnahmen zum Album stattfanden. Die akustische Größe und Tiefe dieses Raums lieferte das passende Pendant zu diesem großen und tiefen Album.
 

Pages