erasing clouds

Neue Musik aus Berlin: Maximilian Hecker and Barbara Morgenstern @ the CCA, Glasgow, Scotland, 6th December 2003

by anna battista

Whoever spread the rumour that German music is just crap techno for hardcore rave fans without any knowledge of any music was just a big liar. The present German music scene is extremely alive and kicking, and the Goethe-Institut wants to prove it by sending around on a world tour two of the young talents of this new generation of cool artists, Maximilian Hecker ad Barbara Morgenstern, the former on record label Kitty-Yo, the latter on Monika-Enterprise.

Maximilian Hecker comes on stage first and charms us all with his music and his shy attitudes, even though he claims almost at the beginning of the gig that he likes Travis, a band that tonight's audience seems to hate. Maximilian is helped on stage by three other members of his band, drummer, bassist and keyboard player, he mainly sings, plays the guitar, the keyboards and fiddles with samplers and drum machines. Hecker's music is a crossover between Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Grandaddy and Kraftwerk. Some of the tracks are melodic and sweet or sad and heart-rending lullabies in which Maximilian's voice becomes a soft whisper and can barely be heard, some others are extremely aggressive rockish anthems which manage to deafen the audience and leave it asking for more. Among the other tracks, tonight Maximilian sings "Kate Moss", "I Am Falling Now", "Cold Wind Blowing" and "Rose", rewarding us every now and then with a little bit of electro-pop and with the shortest cover ever of A-Ha's "Take On Me".

It takes a while for Barbara Morgenstern to start her set because she seems to have too many pieces of equipment, among them her by-now inseparable computer and keyboard. In the audience there are a few local friends of Barbara, The Pastels and Bill Wells, with whom she previously played and with whom she likes improvising. Tonight Barbara will be able to improvise more because on stage with her there are also a drummer and a guitarist. The set opens with "Nichts Muss", followed by "Nichts Und Niemand", "Ohne Anstand" and "Aus Heiterem Himmel". Morgenstern's tracks are good examples of very fine electronica (often with a pop edge) that goes straight to your heart and show that it's absolutely false that electronic music is just an undistinguished mess of cold repetitive beats. Her set goes down very well, people are dancing to her beats and seem utterly in love with her by the end of the gig.

You'll probably have very good chances to fall in love with Hecker and Morgenstern's music in the next few months as they are on this massive world tour organised by the Goethe-Institut. The tour will see the two artists playing all over the world between the end of 2003 and the first half of 2004. Just wait for them, they might be coming very soon to a venue near you.

Issue 18, December 2003

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Pics by Anna Battista