Dienstag, 4. August 2009

Wolfgang Riechmann - Wunderbar

"If there is anyone today to whom we can pass on the responsibilities of the message, we bequeath it ... to the imaginary witness - lest it perish with us." (Theodor W. Adorno & Max Horkheimer)

(Our way today: from Düsseldorf (left) to Cologne (right))

Last week a precious message in a bottle finally found its way to the shore: Wolfgang Riechmann's 1979 album "Wunderbar" was re-released. Riechmann was a contemporary of Kraftwerk and part of the Düsseldorf electronic scene. His only album is one of the most slept on gems from this time, eclipsed by the artist's untimely demise and by the success of Kraftwerk's Man-Machine which was released around the same time. Unlike other kraut and electronic music of that time, "Wunderbar" has aged very well and still sounds exciting today.

Riechmann composed meandering, repetitive and ambient pieces of music that bear some resemblance to Kraftwerk and their contemporaries such as Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. His music had an inherent beauty; it wasn't as erratic and abstract as Schulze's, had more soul than Kraftwerk's and less kitsch than Tangerine Dream's. He showed proof that electronic music can possess warmth and humanity. A strong undercurrent of palpable nostalgia and haunting romanticism pervades every song, and this content produces a beautiful dialectic when it rivals the electronic form.

Check out the first song off the album; a wonderful song with a slight spaghetti western feel that always reminds me of the For A Few Dollars More theme (as used in Babe Ruth's "The Mexican" ... as used in Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock"). It's almost an instrumental piece - the only vocals are some onomatopoietic syllables and fragments that evoke a primordial language, a longing for lost security and happiness: (you might want to listen to the audio without watching the annoying video)

There is a sadness to it that becomes almost unbearable if you are aware of Riechmann's tragic fate. Only 2 weeks before the release of his album, he was brutally stabbed to death by two complete strangers while taking a walk with his girlfriend in the picturesque and peaceful old town of Düsseldorf. It was an act of utter senselessness, there was no motive and Riechmann was a random target.

DOWNLOAD "Wunderbar" from the web or order the re-released cd.

Talking about stabbings and knife attacks, this just in: Last week Bero Bass of Cologne gangsta rap group La Honda cut up a rival pretty bad. He is now incarcerated and facing charges of attempted manslaughter ... finally living the life he fantasized about in his lyrics. Here's my favorite La Honda tune. Fierce and aggressive, with simple yet effective raps over a 808/retro-flavored beat topped by a G-funk hook. You won't be able to understand the German lyrics, but the whole tune is basically just an extended chorus - incredibly catchy.

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