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Brannten Schnüre Aprilnacht

Originally released on tape by SicSic in 2014, Aprilnacht commemorates a decade of music from Brannten Schnüre and marked the spring in a tetralogy of albums about the four seasons when it came out. Back then the Würsburg-based project consisted solely of Christian Schoppik, who later welcomed Katie Rich to take over the vocals. He used to perform as Agnes Beil, but dropped the name when, while making this album realized his music was becoming "much gentler and more fragile". Aprilnacht already captured the particular musical ideas that Schoppik would thoroughly keep exploring, delving deeper and deeper into the use and manipulation of samplers from sources so diverging as to wander between the five continents to post-war German family television and cult cinema. Heir of the ritualistic intensity of Coil, of the intricate sampler assemblies of Ghédalia Tazartès', and of the dusty, dismal old ballads from around the world, Brannten Schnüre manages to make these paths cross in a territory that is as inherent as it is uncanny; sieged by the past and intimate as a hearth. An organic approach to folk, ambient, and sound collage, where ethereal yet thoroughly textured pieces coalesce in enthralling, delicate, and innermost musical rituals. The album cover paintings reveal the temper: dreary old towns where shadows come to dim the slow passage of crepuscular colors, a soft area of reanimation where wind and light come close and foresee the night of spring. Aprilnacht was inspired by the stories of German philosopher and writer Friedrich Alfred Schmid Noerr, whose work exhaustively examines the conflict between paganism and Christianity, safeguarding myth in a way that Schoppik describes as boldly modern, humorous and unpredictable in its variations of the Germanic folklore motifs. "I wanted to do the same with the music," he states, and the music here could as well be suitable for a night when household deities welcome wandering will-o'-the-wisps, water nymphs, and gyrovagues to discuss Perchta's leadership of The Wild Hunt, but this album is not a folk tale, it's not an elegy to worlds already gone, hidden in years; it's an intersection of routes that open mysteriously before our ears like a congregation of vapors. Aprilnacht is a gathering of voices; "There are too many children, and none of them keeps quiet," reads the last verse of «Requiem für eine Ringelnatter.» Sensuality drips over the music to celebrate both the voluptuousness and tragic quality of nature; "It's raining on me, urine from your flowers," Schoppik sings in «Urin deiner Blüten» and later on, faced with a snake's erotic features, as if he wanted to be embraced by it: "Your quick, sharp tongue and your warm venom; that's what the pond is missing." Orality is where this profusion of contents thrives. When the voices get closer and condense, the words reveal the saliva employed to pronounce them; we feel the mouth and the tongue, but when breath envelops them in sorrow and softens their edges, they sound distant, diffused in the atmosphere, letting go of the body that held them. These two vocal facets oscillate permanently and interact naturally with the fertile assembly of samplers and instruments that develop throughout the album, which condense and disperse impersonating each other, interweaving to search for a specific syntax. Tangled whisperings of enigmatic phrases, timid voices that stick out to check the scene but hide away quickly, shivering trance chants and monastic ambiances, distant screams and clamors in between chaos and warfare swirl until bursting into subtle songs where even Mother Mary comes forth softly. Soothed by foggy atmospheres and crackling punctuations, these voices shape a vulnerable crowd, an occasion of fragility. Along this swarm of songs thrown into thin air, accordions sound like heavy-breathing lungs; clarinets sigh like curtains shaking; violin solos wander around like bees; Gjallarhorns cries distend like fleeing cattle; glockenspiels evoke remote music boxes and inherited toys; backward emanations emerge like slender waves retreating. On the banks of stretching loops and ember textures is where the songs slowly nest, collecting the words to find their tone. A poem by Jorge Teillier says, "To talk with the dead you have to choose words that they recognize as easily as their hands recognized the fur of their dogs in the dark. To talk with the dead you have to know how to wait: they are fearful like the first steps of a child. But if we are patient one day they will answer us with a flame that suddenly revives in the fireplace." This may be Brannten Schnüre's main purpose: To find the voice to speak to those of whom we were a vision. Not in mourning, but acknowledging the obscure and volatile nature of spring's regenerative force, searching for the treasure of balance, as evidenced in the lyrics of «Requiem für ein Schwalbennest,» "Its nest was destroyed so many times before it was finished, and despite that, the shallow builds as if it is infatuated." The same idea is here in the words of Schmid Noerr, who made poetry an act of resistance to the horror of Nazism; "Since having seen the ability of a brilliant spirit to die, with a calm mouth that everyone saw, health is true again and we affirm it, even if rivers of blood flow." And as we call for the dusk's kindness, waiting to return home and eat with our kin by the stove, our ears become used to the games of the night. We feel like we're rowing on wetlands, while the "moon musick" keeps us vigilant against the slightest movement of water or sweet moan because eeriness here is imperative for survival. Do not succumb to the insipid howl of death, for nothing may last but mutability. You see, the rock has moved a little during the night; the rest is just wind fleeing from the void.
  • Aprilnacht
  • Aprilnacht
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