Tuesday, February 13, 2007
It’s the sound, not the song. At least in the beginning. Bernd Jestram and Ronald Lippok sit in their recording studio located in the heart of their city and turn the knobs, press the buttons, shift the regulators. Until they find a sound, until a sound finds its way to them. A rhythm, a melody, a noise. “Then, we slowly write the song backwards.”
For “Spider Smile” Tarwater have found astonishing decided pop songs – as indicated already by their debut on Morr “The Needle Is Travelling”, released in 2005. They, the electro duo, each of them with his roots in East-Berlin’s sub culture and avant-garde. Their songs being full of allusions and references shall encourage the listener to link his/her own stories with the ones by Tarwater. For instance, the sun that rises and sets again and again in “arkestra” shines for everyone at another place. The song “arkestra”, by the way, originates from a joint bus trip with members of “Sun Ra Arkestra” through the hilly landscape of Scotland. Another one of these stories that one doesn’t have to know. But that still reveals much of the record telling a lot of places and spaces. America – or rather a lot of different ideas of what America is like – is its essential motif. It is the song “shirley temple” that marks the beginning, a clouded electro-overture.
The recording studio still is Bernd Jestram’s and Ronald Lippok’s favourite instrument. Nonetheless, for “Spider Smile” a number of analogue instruments landed up in front of the microphones. A harmonica, for example. And with it the blues. It changes in Tarwater’s “witchpark” into a dark dub-landscape. Marchy woods, alligators. Guitars send several songs on their way – like the all pushing “world of things to touch”. Violines are plucked distinctly in other songs and moods, an oboe spreads melancholy patina (“roderick usher”). Later, there is the playing with repetition and modification, song- and soundwriting from the spirit of modulation – a central motif within the music of Tarwater (“when love was the law in los angeles”). Or, the album’s only cover version: “sweethome under white clouds” of Virgin Prunes” that took its way through an echo-chamber. “Home is where the heart is”, a line like an incantation. At the same time this resume sums up the entire album very well.