ivyation n.: the capability to overgrow any overly smooth surface with a tangled webwork of green stuff, also: ability to produce an incredible number of mutations per square foot...
Especially , "ivyation" tends to be both the job description and second album by German artgirl Dagmar 41. Navigating the uncharted border territories between pop, folk and downright avant-garde, "ivyation" exudes a rough-hewn charm that is no less than captivating. Inspirations and atmospheres range from the upbeat tongue-in-cheek anthem Life Without Men & Axioms (dedicated to a friend who had started her math degree with said proposition and ended up a happily engaged nuclear chemist) to the pensive, Borges-inspired Ten Nine Eight with its Arabic soundscape, from the bittersweet string quartet setting of Fivewater (one of a series of songs about neurotic Belgians) to the heavy-but-surreal rock of The Admiral Is Seeing Archangels (which features an ace admiral impersonation from Stuart Gordon, veteran fiddler of Korgis, Heinz Rudolf Kunze and Peter Hammill Quartet fame).

Other guests on this album include Jan Tobias Kleinschnieder who came up with an amusing way of playing bass, Tobias Not-Jan Jung who contributed geological beats and non-house-trained sinewaves, and last not least Dutch percussionist Rene Van Commenee who played that rare occurrence - a non-Indian tabla. It was Egyptian, I'm told...

All other instruments, and that includes such oddities as Czechoslovakian Airlines spoons, the Rhine, a taped letter, the door of the Dept of Chemistry at Mainz University and Stingbert The Scorpion, are played by Dagmar 41 herself.

"Complex, rich, deep... songs of strange beauty that will make you laugh and cry" (Francois Couture, CFLX)

"combines a love for science, opera, modern art, neurotic Belgians and Jethro Tull into a mixture that's oddly accessible to the ears... the rare artsy album that pleases far more often than it frustrates" (Splendid e-zine)

"... ein erstaunlich kompaktes und in seiner Vielfalt beeindruckendes Werk; vertonte Gedichte, die in ihrer vibrierenden Zärtlichkeit an Heather Nova oder Tori Amos erinnern" (Rhein Zeitung)

Dagmar writes the following notes about the tracks:

Swim: written in a stinky mood just after missing a Frankfurt tube train and feeling utterly stranded... guesses still accepted as to the identity of the three heroes mentioned in the lyric. Hint: only one of them, the Lady In State, is actually dead (not drowned, though), and both the others aren't indifferent. They're quite different, in fact... :)

Lay Lady Laughter: the sound of silliness. I once won a poetry slam with a verbal meditation based on the looped and loopy initial babble...!

The Admiral Is Seeing Archangels: on account of the guy being Swedish (and mad!), Stuart Gordon appeared to be the perfect man to play the part. It took some convincing to make him do the "Admiral-in-the-bath" bit (among other things from Peter Hammill who pointed out that Stuart's Geordie accent is the closest an Englishman can get to a Swedish accent!). The distorted voice at the beginning reminded someone of Hammill's "Magog" - well, it's the same man speaking, namely Judge Smith... the spoken bits are excerpts form a taped letter he sent me years ago, and the "anyway" is right in place where it is - no editing required!

Life Without Men & Axioms: proof that adherence to chaos theory does drive you mad. If you happen to be called Pirjo, of course, which happens I'm told...

Ivyation: entirely improvised, layer after layer. The loop at the end is taken from one of my friend Rob's songs, taped, manhandled, threaded back into the cassette and played backwards. As with the last album, this one wasn't actually meant to have a title track until the very last minute. Blame Hedera Communis (yes she has a surname), the upstart ivy in my bathroom.

Now Be A Short Intermission: 37 seconds of mindless violence!!

Ten Nine Eight: the only song I ever wrote on bass guitar, and also the only one whose lyrics I substantially rewrote... the original first line would have been "Do crusaders smell of peach, mama?" With hindsight, this obliquely Borges-inspired setting seems to make much more sense! Incidentally, the intro is the sound of my bass Monty (short for Montresor, should you wonder) being "bowed" with a bottleneck by my rather inventive guitarist mate Jan.

Time & Time: would you believe that is the sound of a grand piano? No, I wouldn't either - it is, though! Bloody Yamaha for you... originally addressed to a flatmate who kept having nothing but trouble with her boyfriend but was unwiling to dump him, I decided at some point to dedicate it to Cath The Math who had the same problem but eventually managed to get rid of the bloke. She gave me gratitude and a very audible cold for that...

Fivewater: to this day I have no idea why it's called that. While recording in Bristol, it turned out to be handy abbrevation for "Britvic 5/5" which was what I drank during recording breaks, but the title is older than the apple fizzy... and the "holy town" is the uncannily Catholic city of Leuven in Belgium.

The Geologists Are Happy: they're female. Not that you can tell really... the amazingly realistic singing-down-the-phone effect was achieved by singing down a phone (well, into my own ansaphone), and the saxy noise at the end is the door of the new chemistry building at Mainz uni, which still hasn't been oiled since the recording of this album!!

Waking: the sort of thing that occupies my mind when doing just that, namely waking. The music is entirely improvised and therefore half-forgotten already, as befits a dream. Shakespeare fan that I am, I actally spoilt the haiku form by singing a proper six-syllable Hamlet quote at the beginning...

I is One: that title bugged me for weeks before I could make sense of it. I mean, it just sounds grammatically incorrect, doesn't it? The twin interpretations of "I is one way of saying we don't know" and "i =1" popped into my mind simultaneously while staring at a white door in Hechtsheim Hall of Residence. Incidentally, the i stands for the running indices mathematicians tend to give to all things they can't be bothered to count (e.g. because ther's an infinite number of the buggers) and not the imaginary number i, which of course isn't ever 1. Lyrically, this is one of the Hammill songs that took a wrong turn somewhere in song heaven and ended up being written by me... and I love it still!

ivyation is now available from

A New Day Records
75 Wren Way
Farnborough, Hants.
GU14 8TA

FAX +44 (0)1252 372001.

Price £10, or £11 if bought by credit card - P&P inclusive. Cheques in pounds sterling only, and must be either drawn on a UK bank and payable to A New Day Records, or Eurocheques payable to D Rees.

For your entertainment: MP3s!

Ivyation - the title track. Voices, voices, voices. Can you tell this started out as improvisation?

A short snippet from Life Without - its full title is "Life Without men And Axioms", a heroic proposal of Esther's that failed gloriously. This tune doesn't, however - jolly jumpy