|Say Yes (X-Cess)
|Schland is the place for me
|All my friends
I remember the first time I read W.E.B. DuBois eclectic masterpiece The Souls of Black Folk. The way in which this Weberian scholar flowed from personal account to prose to sociological analysis to music and even political intervention has had a lasting impact on my own work as a cultural anthropologist. It made me understand that as scholars we must use different means in order to give expression to the totality of the lived experience: There is only so much in an academic text.
The experience of alienation has always been at the heart of my scholarly and artistic practice. I have used academic writing, lecturing, theatre performance and electronic improvisation to understand and represent it as a theoretical concept, postcolonial condition and lived experience. I believe, some issues need to be told like a story, some analyzed in most abstract terms and others need to be sung like a gospel. The medium changes the message.
In this sense, I guess, I’m a singing cultural anthropologist.
For some time now I have been engaged in the use of dystopian themes and sounds to paint a sonic picture of structural racism and whiteness of our present. But recently I have grown weary of this Ballardian idea of Future Now and the resulting phantasmagorian aesthetics myself and others have been invested in. The widespread availability of Digital Audio Workstations, sequencers, loopers and delay pedals has lead us into a futuristic cul de sac best described by Mark Fisher as the very absence of future.
Likewise, I am most skeptical of the “naturalist” countermovement, the return of folk. Especially in Germany, I am convinced there is no such thing as an innocent or progressive folk musical expression as it is always connected to the idea of the homeland (“Heimat”) which in turn produces the colony. It seems to me, the current zeitgeist is stuck between a “museum of a dystopian future” and a “museum of an idealized past”, but I wanted to sing about the present.
So, I involuntarily returned to pop music in its two-folded meaning of something popular and addressing not an essentialist notion of “Volk” or its woke cousin “communities”, but society as a whole.
I entered the studio just with a few lo-fi sounding melodies and rhythms from my circuit bent CASIO synthesizer. I had no clue what the finished product would sound like. But as soon as Markus started drumming, in a way strangely reminding me of CAN’s Ethnographic Forgery Series, my uptight sounds were suddenly embedded within a warmer global sound spectrum. The alien at home and abroad and the strange overlapped: We were seeing one and the same sound differently but were gently held together by Tobias’ producing.
Making music is about building coalitions. It’s about suggesting an articulation of styles, sounds and people, that hasn’t materialized, yet, but may help us in the current crisis: I wanted Amon Düül II to send their drug induced archangel thunderbird to rescue the refugees, that had tried to escape the police by climbing up a tree in Munich in 2016. I wanted Sun Ra to taunt far-right protesters in Chemnitz in 2018. And I wanted to mourn the loss of a former kebab shop cum discotheque that served as proof that there is such a thing as a minoritarian universalism.
SCHLAND IS THE PLACE FOR ME is a pop album featuring songs of alienation, not only as a tragic experience, but as a pop-cultural promise. Maybe Bill Callahan sung it best, “I am Star Wars today, I am no longer English grey”. I want those who suffer from alienation to stand in alliance with those who seek alienation, and vice-versa. A coalition, that tolerates the possibility that we are moved by the same groove for contrary reasons.
Fehler Kuti Munich, Autumn 2019
Music by Julian Warner, Markus Acher & Tobias Siegert Saxophone on RINDERMARKT by Franz Brunner Trombone on RINDERMARKT and IL by Matthias Götz Recorded and mixed by Tobias Siegert in Munich. SONTAGSFAVORIT mixed by Dario Albiez in Dusseldorf. Mastered by Duphonic in Augsburg. Artwork by Atelier Grande, Munich.