Lilienweiss: Reloaded and Remastered

Lilienweiss: In Todesbanden 1.0

Lilienweiss's Reloaded and Remastered offers listeners unfamiliar with the group's previous releases—Silent Night (October Man, 2007), Zwitschern-Zyklus (, 2008), Musette Variation 1.0 in Drei Sätzen (, 2008), and Seasons (October Man, 2008)—the perfect opportunity to hear the distinctive electroacoustic sounds Dorothea Herrmann (clarinet) and Thorsten Scheerer (electric guitar, electric bass, software) have been releasing since 2003. Progressive and challenging yet also organic and accessible, the fifty-minute collection not only includes all of Silent Night and the twenty-minute Musette Variation 1.0 but also the very first Lilienweiss production, the previously-unreleased 2003 “Prinzessin 3.3.”

Drawing upon experimental and classical music traditions, the group builds its bold neo-chamber sound around the “lead” playing of Herrmann (who teaches clarinet at the Peter Cornelius Conservatory in Mainz and performs as a solo artist, among other things) and the electroacoustic sculpting of Scheerer (also an account manager for a company in the banking sector, the composer lives and works in Mannheim and Frankfurt, Germany). Following the spooky nachtmusik of “Sensi 1.3,” the collection moves on to “Fieberfeucht 2.1” where the clarinet's clear and piercing notes push up against a torrent of white electronic noise. Positioned at the album's center, the five-part “Musette Variation 1.0” nudges the Lilienweiss sound into slightly different territory with accordionist Marion Schauble and Herrmann, abetted by Scheerer's software manipulations, emulating a small chamber orchestra. The absence of guitar and bass gives the work a slightly more “classical” feel, even if the compositional style remains firmly within the Lilienweiss tradition. Applying his tools almost subliminally, Scheerer uses the software to duplicate the instruments rather than generate noise interventions, making the resultant sound of “Musette Variation 1.0” as pure a representation of Lilienweiss's sound as has been heard (and a far cry from the stabbing metal guitar theatrics that soil the thankfully brief “Rectified 4.4” that follows). In “Stille Nacht 2.2,” Herrmann's clarinet appears amidst a nightmarish mass of software-generated noise-drone textures, and the album even includes the group's idiosyncratic stab at a blues vamp (“Morgen kommt 1.2”).

The group recently received the Vers. 1.5 Award For Electronic Music In The Church (an award supported by the Evangelic Church In Wuerttemberg and other cultural institutions of the county of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany) for the “In Todesbanden 1.0” (“in death's bonds”) composition. Scored for clarinet, piano, synthesizer, and electric guitar, the four-minute “single” is a brooding set-piece that's actually a variation on Johann Sebastian Bach's “Christ Lay In Death's Bonds.” Hermann's long tones and swooping runs stand out in sharp relief against a thick mass of swelling synthesizer rumble, guitar accents, and splashes of piano chords (with apparently the instruments located in different parts of the church, musically symbolic of death, hope, and resurrection)—the essence of Lilienweiss's provocative sound distilled into a single four-minute setting. Needless to say, the two releases collectively constitute as in-depth a portrait of the Lilienweiss universe as could be imagined.

August 2009