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CD Feature/ V.A.: "Neuklang Kirchenlied"

img  Tobias

The basic idea of “Neuklang Kirchenlied” (which translates to something like “The new sound of parochial chant”) is simple: Take a couple of bands from the field of Pop. Rock, Folk and slightly more experimental genres and ask them to cover popular German hymns. Constantin Gröhn is, however, not a man of one-dimensional messages, as his location-specific sound project “Der Michel und der Dom” previously proved. And there is certainly a deeper aim behind this sampler than just transferring the good old classics to the 21st century.

It can not be denied: The religious (or church-related) aspect of Gröhn’s work has been a red thread throughout, regardless of the fact that his music neither turns meaningless without it, nor becomes missionary – which is a welcome sign of reservation for a Vicar. And thus, an outwardly purely sound-oriented project like “Der Michel und der Dom” was a casestudy in placing the noises of a Hamburg-based church next to those of an adjacent fun park.

“Neuklang Kirchenlied” is different in that it has been mainly enabled by the support of the protestant magazine “Chrismon” and gets more concrete in both its concept and realisation. After all, chant is an essential part of the surmon and acts as a connecting element between the members of the parochial. In the act of singing, personal differences loose their significance and the word takes on a living meaning. This is what Gröhn is after for this CD as well.

He has invited ten acts from extreme points of the artistic spectrum for their version of some of the eternal and essential issues of human life. On a purely musical level, this combination would never work, but thanks to the common conceptual ground, an undisturbed flow establishes itself, which seemlessly integrates the robust riffs of  “Der Bote”, the ethereal vocal harmonies of “Joni & Joni” or “Die Praktikanten” as well as the combustible and supercharged punk energy of now disbanded “Snubnose. Thanks to the freshness of the arrangements, be they lush or sparse, one can appreciate the lyrics with open ears again – and discover the purity, timelessness and contemporary relevance of texts sometimes dating back 400 years.

One should not forget that some of these songs are actually common knowledge in Germany and part of the cultural canon. Twenty years ago, you could’ve asked just about anybody on the street for the lyrics to “Der Mond ist aufgegangen”. Today this knowledge has dwindled. In the booklet, Gröhn asks for ways to become active again in this regard, asking “whether we should sing or merely listen”. It is quite clear that he opts for the formerr. More than anything else, “Neuklang Kirchenlied” is a project to get people performing these classics again, With the care that has gone into it, there’s a good chance for it to succeed.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Gruenrekorder Records

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