Alien Transistor / Germany / 2022
Fuchs is a band that never was. It vanished as quickly as it appeared in the picture, much like the animal that can be seen on this album and after whom it was named. In 2005, Kante singer and guitarist Peter Thiessen travelled to Weilheim to visit Markus and Micha Acher in their studio, where they were joined, among others, by Notwist-affiliated musicians like Cico Beck, Robert Klinger, Carl Oesterhelt and Stefan Schreiber. Spirits were high, but schedules were full: after a week of improvised sessions, everyone went their own way. The recordings gathered dust until Markus Acher found them again in 2021 while cleaning out his studio. After carefully re-evaluating the rough mixes, the musicians decided to finally release them. The resulting album comprises six tracks that musically draw on jazz, aesthetically lean on dub techniques and ideologically pick up on krautrock: there’s no solos to be heard on this record, just a few equally skilled and open-minded musicians listening to each other carefully, providing each other with space in which to unfold. »Fuchs« is a document of egos dissolving in a collective spirit.
Thiessen and the Acher brothers met in the 1990s and bonded not only over their shared background in hardcore music and the DIY ethos in which it was rooted, but also over their love for jazz. »If you look at those two things combined, you will eventually become convinced that you don’t have to be formally trained to make music that at least resembles jazz«, says Thiessen today. He invited Micha Acher to join his band Kante on flügelhorn in 2004 for a tour that saw the expanded group play unusual encores after the official concert was over. »Micha had taught us some dixie pieces, so night after night we would play a freestyle dixieland ska set in front of the remaining audience!« Naturally, the Acher brothers didn’t have to ask twice when they invited him for a visit in Weilheim to further explore their mutual interests in a studio setting. »I got on my way immediately and took two or three loose ideas, a tape echo and a guitar on whose headplate you could create fantastic sounds with me«, says Thiessen.
Between immersing themselves in books by the photographer Leonore Mau, cooking together and drinking the occasional fruit schnapps, the trio went into the studio. Says Thiessen, »Micha brought his flügelhorn and some wonderful ideas with him, Markus an Indian harmonium and a plan, Carl Oesterhelt came with a glockenspiel and a Chinese zither and a bunch of amazing jazz musicians joined in, too.« He considers the resulting recording sessions to be a kind of attempt at musically translating their conversations during those days. They discussed different approaches to jazz, whether sampling and musical miscitations can unlock ecstatic potentials and the possible parallels between syncretistic religions and pop music. »There’s traces of glossolalia, it's like a blurry séance«, adds Thiessen in regard to the sessions.
It is especially this spirit that managed to live on even though the recordings themselves were abandoned. »What we all liked most when listening back to the recordings is probably their marginal and fragmentary character, the empty spaces—the moments in which the virtuoso solo never comes, in which the centre remains empty.« The six pieces on »Fuchs« are chock-full of exactly these moments. When at one instant, the players seem to disperse and improvise freely, they always meet again on common ground a short time later, continuing on their way together. There are no conventions or even previous agreements that guide them, just a shared will to explore a vast range of curious sounds and unusual rhythms together as a truly unified constellation of very different musicians. Fuchs is a band that never was. Its ideas still reverberate vividly even 17 years later.