F.S. Blumm: Zweite Meer
Morr Music

Listeners familiar with Frank Schültge Blumm's Mondkuchen, Ankern, and Lichten may wonder if his latest, the 38-minute Zweite Meer, deviates from his signature style of rustic instrumental folk. After all, the earlier albums' titles suggest themes of movement and searching—Ankern (to anchor), Lichten (to lighten, to pull the anchor)—with Zweite Meer translating as “second sea, a new place.” As it turns out, the new album sounds much like the earlier material, though that's hardly cause for complaint when it sounds so delightful. If anything, it seems a more perfect statement, the music lovely from beginning to end with not a single false note heard.

Apparently, ideas for the album gestated during a journey from Canada to Mexico he took in the company of Greg Davis and e*rock, with Blumm captivated by desert expanses viewed along the way. Though fragile in feel, the album's panoramic vignettes are similarly expansive. Though he apparently had Burt Bacharach, Tom Jones, and Brian Wilson in mind during the trip, the album's twelve pieces hardly draw an overt connection to any of them. The material is, rather, instrumental folk, with nary an electronic sound to be heard.

While Blumm plays numerous instruments (mallet percussion, guitars, bass, drums), his arrangements often emphasize melodica and harmonium, a move which consequently strengthens the music's timeless feel. While the album makes its strongest impact broached as a whole, “Nie,” a lovely and stately march featuring melodica, clarinet, and glockenspiel, stands out as particularly beautiful. Elsewhere, Harald Ziegler's affecting French Horn deepens the sombre mood of “Blick” and a relaxed vocal by David Grubbs appears in the concluding song to nicely reinforce the album's rustic mood. Only “Nah” works up some aggressive, guitar-driven steam with the remaining songs bucolic and reflective in spirit. Put simply, Zweite Meer is a gorgeous chamber folk recording filled with yearning, heartwarming melodies.

April 2005