Aguirre Records / Belgium / 2022
Dich lieb ich, Erde! trauerst du doch mit mir!
Und unsre Trauer wandelt wie Kinderschmerz
In Schlummer sich und wie die Winde
Flattern und flüstern im Saitenspiele
The third stanza of Friedrich Hölderlin’s poem ‘Dem sonnengott’ evokes a narrator who is tortured by Spleen until slumber makes his childlike gloom disappear with music. Although today’s readers might judge these nineteenth century musings of the Imagination as mere stylistic platitudes, they also still speak beyond the grave as universal truths. A mere two hundred years later similar anxieties and hopes are still channeled through various art forms, with changing success and reverberation. Brannten Schnüre are one of those neo-romantic music experimentalists who add to a long tradition of celebrating folk tale and exoticism. Their meticulously crafted loops, hesitant melodies and heavily nostalgic lyricism could easily be translated to what the late philosopher and music critic Mark Fisher called ‘hauntology’, a postmodern longing for a lost future. To describe the beauty of ‘Geträumt hab’ ich vom Martinszug’, however, the term seems somewhat dissatisfying. Romanticism is a hard nut to crack in the Anthropocene, and Brannten Schnüre’s realms of the cerebral are too deeply ingrained in a German tradition of story telling to define them within popular paradigm.
‘Geträumt hab’ ich vom Martinszug’ was recorded in 2014 in Würzburg and functions as the autumn part of the band’s seasonal cycle quadrilogy (the other segments being ‘Aprilnacht’ (SicSic), ‘Sommer im Pfirsichhain’ (Aguirre) and ‘Durch unser zugedecktes Tal’ (Youdonthavetocallitmusic)). It deals with the Saint Martin’s parade, a mostly European tradition to celebrate the medieval spirit of Saint Martin of Tours, friend of children and patron of the poor. Around 11 November children come out on the streets with lanterns and sing ancient songs in exchange for sweets. It’s a period of snugness and expectation, of yearning and dreaming, and therefore a consummate subject for the duo to scrutinize.
To the adult’s ear the dream of the Saint Martin’s parade isn’t all that consolatory. The dark and slow loops of Christian Schoppik rather sound like motifs for a welcome paralysis. Sometimes as a gentle backdrop for vocals by Katie Rich and Schoppik himself, the repetitive structures serve as tricksters that trade innocence for the uncanny. The dream becomes a fever dream which quickly absorbs the listener into a vacuum, an eternal post-panic attack semi-relief. Maybe that’s the amazing paradox of Brannten Schnüre. The space they occupy is never comforting – as if being locked up inside a Carl Grossberg painting – but it’s also a subliminal aural zone you do not want to leave. It’s music as being, as a stream, devoid of climax or catharsis. And because it is flux and being, and exists to be taken, it speaks in art’s purest form. ‘In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art’ Susan Sontag famously concluded her essay ‘Against Interpretation’ with. Well, look no further …
‘Geträumt hab’ ich vom Martinszug’ was originally released on cassette in 2016 by Ulrich Rois’ excellent Feathered Coyote Records.