|Unsailable: out more or less now on rising German indie Molecule Records (small, mobile and run by a chemist, should you wonder), this is pretty much what it says on the tin - a collection of cross-currents, eddies and northern lights to baffle even the most seasoned of navigators.|
Here is what everyone else said: reviews!
There is of course the old trademark fractured piano ballad, this time augmented with the sandy violinings of Gundula Krause or the spirited cello and loud breaths of Jane Parsons, and of course there are assorted dark clouds on the horizons ("Painted Sails", "Semaphore" - sometimes you just feel like that!), but with this album, Dagmar 41 has made the leap and entered the terra incognita of groove, viz. the infections "The Thursday Room" or "Here Comes Iocasta" with what must be one of the few British-accented raps extant in the world today...
And there is a song without a single "e" in it - cunningly disguised as "Normal Song", this cute tune has bounced its way into your brain long before you realise there's a lyrical quirk to it. And to balance things off, there is of course a song with "e" as its only vowel... I'll leave you to figure that one out yourself.
Throughout the album, collaborations abound: there's even a few co-writes here ("Fins" with Robert Gózon of Aerosol Grey Machine, and "Write With no Pen" with Tobi Jung of Belly Button & The Lovehandles), but the distinctive style and voice of Dagmar 41 shines throughout. Not content with playing almost all the instruments herself (she's competent on piano, guitar, bass, flute, electronic stuff and Beanie Baby scorpion), it is her deep, warm voice that makes these songs unmistakable, whether deliciously layered as on "King Arthur's Café" or raging over the distorted top of "Defenestration"...
Read Me: this one sprang out of the lucky collision of an intended song title with a discarded fragment of another song (I'll leave you to figure out which - it's pretty obvious really). If anyone can tell me where the Latin quote "navigare necesse est" comes from I'd be extremely happy to know; for everyone else, all it means is that navigating is necessary...
Semaphore: and so we start, guided by incomprehensible sign language... this one is another part in an ongoing series about failing relationships, or rather one and the same failed relationship. The radio is tuned to long wave, and played by hand... also, I'm massively indebted to Rob Gózon for finding a tune for that middle bit - I could not have come up with anything as sensible as this!
Defenestration: the result of an evening's worth of ill-tempered boredom. Lots of guitars, an annoying/annoyed beat and PJ Harvey-style vocals... the lyrical idea sprang from a psychologists' game once played on me where you're asked to visualise yourself as a block of something in a desert, me being pretty huge, orange and made of iron. As it turns out, it's not entirely clear whether the horse is eating the flowers or vice versa!
Glass Music: yes, the composer as well as the material. The latter had me bleeding for art's sake as I went to some lengths to get that authentic breaking-glass sound by smashing a wine bottle on my bathroom floor. Of course, silly me cut herself on the pieces afterwards...
Here Comes Iocasta: this was yet another misheard line from something Gaelic (I think) overheard on the motorway driving home from Cologne. It developed quite a life of its own, and I'm proud to announce what must be one of the few cod-British-accented raps in the world *grin*
Eve (Cress Reference): counterbalance to Number 8 really, and the sonic equivalent of playing "Eve" late into the night in an attempt at finding those insects!
Marinade: one of the oldest songs here, this was actually written in the bath. Well, conceived of anyway, as I don't normally play piano in the bath! It's been considered variously sexy, fractured, beautiful, bloodstained and masturbatory, and it certainly drove poor Gundula mad with all the key changes... still she did a great job fiddling on this one.
Normal Song: it is, isn't it? Okay, maybe the name of the backing band isn't - they're stubbornly called Belly Button and the Lovehandles - but even they thought it was a fairly standard pop tune until they found out that the song lacks one almost vital ingredient, the stress being on "almost" - thr's not a singl " " in this on! Now to find a radio station without an " " in it to play this song...
Ammonites: last-minute addition to the album, this has become a live favourite since. Especially if Jane's around to jump onstage with her cello and join in. I paid her an ammonite for playing on the record, and if you listen closely you can still hear her impassioned breathing as there was no way you could get her to keep quiet or pant off-mike! Way to go, Jane!
The Thursday Room: the drawing class at Römerberg Atelier in Wiesbaden. This is where I do most of my concentrated thinking - it helps to keep completely still and not worry about your body at all. Until bits of it fall asleep, or the artists require a change of position of course!
King Arthur's Cafe: in real life it's a pub, in Utrecht of all places, and yes there was filming going on outside in the rain. I've grown quite attached to this one really, as did Jan who splashed some beautiful electric guitar bits all over it, leaving it to me to edit them into place (and time), and Tobi who kept on wanting to play more bass than I thought necessary (sorry mate). And if anyone else says 'Joni Mitchell'; I'll scream - I don't even know any of her songs...
Phosphorus: based as much on Primo Levi's Periodic Table (recommended reading even for non-chemists actually) as on a remark made by a character in a Helmut Krausser novel (obscure literary references alert), according to whom phosphorus was, and still is, made from piss. A bit of metaphorical fuck-the-millennium from me...
Fins: a fortunate case of co-writing, this one came together in half an hour with Rob Gózon. The tricky bit was to _learn_ it afterwards! And the fact that the one chord in the background never quite dissolves used to drive Rob up the wall - thankfully he swallowed it and came up with that wonderful intro, middle bit and ending. Give it some Hammill, Rob!
Write With No Pen: a co-write with Tobi Jung - even the lyric was the result of a co-operation, the two of us writing alternate lines! He's currently recording his own version of the song which will probably differ from this one in absolutely al respects bar lyrics, chorus, and the Russian male voice choir pastiche in the middle... I'll let you know when it's out!
Painted Sails: Odysseus' goodbye... this one was wordless, and indeed verseless, for most of its existence, but had "album closer" written all over it right from the start. Best listened to on headphones and lying on your back on the beach, or failing that, the floor... weird noises courtesy of Jane Parsons' cello & heavy breathing and a crash noise from Microsoft Windows (!)
Im Ziegelfeld 2
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Defenestration - short, sharp and shouty. This is the sound of me being bored and angry at the same time...
And a short snippet from Painted Sails - the album's closer, a nautical ballad to drown in!