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Song Review

by Thom Jurek

On this disc, Attwenger has "arrived." On the band's (Hans-Peter Falkner on accordion, harmonica, samplers, and synthesizers and Markus Binder on drums and percussion, jaw harp, etc.) fourth album, they've evolved from being a dumb polka duo who thought they wrote "cute" lyrics, to a musically inventive, texturally compelling unit who will use anything and everything in order to create a music that is very specifically theirs. There are only five tracks on Song, three of them are over 15 minutes in length, one is only six seconds, and one is just over six minutes. The album opens with "Wama Liaba," an accordion-based two-chord rhythm that is repeated throughout, with droning vocals and a kitchen sink of textural and atmospheric effects layered and mixed carefully throughout. On the next track, "Ged Wer," a rhythm played on bongos and lyrics rapped over the top comprise the first five minutes of the tune. In contrast to its predecessor, it's a sharp turn. Eventually accordions and the jaw's harp are woven in for a while and give the tune a traditional folk flavor; finally the mix alternates just between the vocals and percussion, and the harmonica, accordion, and jaw's harp inserting them seemingly at random. Even a tuba makes a brief appearance before rhythm takes over the entire mix and takes it out. Overall, Song is full of delights and surprises. There is an economy of novelty and a genuinely successful attempt at creating a signature sound in the same way that Yello and Kraftwerk have, though Attwenger sound nothing like either of them. The comparisons were made as Europeans with like mindsets. Song is a wonder considering where this band came from musically, and is most certainly worth seeking out.

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