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   Heimatklšnge OST: Heimatklšnge - Echoes of Home: Release Information

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Release Date: 12.10.2007
EAN/UPC: 705304451021
TT Catalogue No: 4510

heimatklänge - echoes of home - on yelping and other forms of song

>> For me as a musician the question of «Where do I come from?» is of fundamental importance. What is it that I draw on to create? The further I can go back, the more ingrained this foundation is, the greater its strength and the more powerful my artistic expression.

>> I assume that at some point the human being had the urge to extend the pleasure of speaking (...) When you begin to open up your heart the note becomes longer. Experiencing emotions does not make for brevity.

>> The most wonderful part of it all is when you can sing without having to conform to anything. We can be so free. If we knew how free we could be, we would burst.


heimatklänge • echoes of home
What does a baby’s cry have in common with the echo of a mountain yodler, and what connects the head tone of a Tuvin nomad with the stage show of a vocal artist? The answer is: THE VOICE. Against a background of powerful alpine vistas and modern city landscapes, «heimatklänge» enters the wondrous sonic world of three exceptional Swiss vocal artists. Their universe of sound extends far beyond what we would describe as singing. In their engagement with local and foreign traditions, the powerful mountain landscape becomes a stage as do the landscapes and sonic backdrops of modern life.
To the sounds of a melancholic yodel song, the camera sways over a sea of mist toward the grey-blue peaks of the Swiss Alps. on a rocky platform it finds a climber listening intently to the echo of his yodel. His name is Christian Zehnder, one of contemporary Europe’s most unconventional, daring and original vocal artists. His performances comprise an ingenious mixture of yodeling, scat and overtone singing. As part of the «stimmhorn» duo, together with the alphorn-player Balthasar Streiff, he has gained international renown over recent years. These immense mountains, says Zehnder, require a response, a contrast. He explains how the landscape shapes people’s voices and how he himself is in search of his own particular sound. His journey takes him to Tuva, where he joins the world-famous overtone singers Huun Huur Tu in improvisation. This search for one’s own voice was and still is also a search for the sounds of one’s homeland and becomes a motif that runs through «heimatklänge» (echoes of home). The core of the film is formed by Zehnder, Appenzell yodeling virtuoso Noldi Alder and the American-Swiss vocal and performance artist Erika Stucky. In his youth Alder achieved international fame with his brothers in the folk music group «Alder Buebe». But at some point he felt a need to free himself from the strict confines of this particular form. The process of unceasing musical development he subsequently embarked on found and continues to find inspiration in the old songs and the tones and sounds of his Appenzell surroundings. Today he is regarded as one of Switzerland’s most experimental and innovative yodlers and singers, whose «Zäuerli» (slow yodel songs) give his audiences goose bumps and are imbued with an extraordinary sadness and ferocity. Erika Stucky was 10 years old when she moved with her family from the uSA to the land of Heidi. Her performances are an ebullient mixture of homey alpine culture and urban groove which blurs the boundaries between folk music, jazz and children’s songs. Her anarchically sensual stage show with the well-known Swiss rock singer Sina draws on the ancient sagas and traditions of Switzerland’s Wallis region. The two women enter the roles of their fantastic stories, in which they reinvent ancient rites, colorfully and stridently refashioning them with little respect for tradition.
Blending recordings of performances with stories and classic found footage such as home movies and photos, «heimatklänge» explores the personal background and development of its protagonists. The film embeds these stories in the landscapes of the Swiss Alps and the country’s urban Mittelland region where the three live, looking for the roots of their music in their geographical surroundings. These musicians are part of a new awakening in the alpine vocal arts. In their engagement with local and foreign traditions, the powerful mountain landscape becomes a stage as do the landscapes and sonic backdrops of modern life. «heimatklänge» confronts the so-called traditional with the original and the new and allows us to experience and be inspired by the most archaic of all instruments – the human voice.

Stefan Schwietert’s Music Films – in particular «heimatklänge» • echoes of home

He makes films that tickle the heart, move the feet and invite us to dream. Since bringing out his breakthrough film «A Tickle in the Heart» in 1996, the film-maker Stefan Schwietert, a native of Basel but for many years a resident of Berlin, has devoted his energies to films about music. His films, above all those he has made for the cinema such as «A Tickle in the Heart» (1996), «El accordeón del Diablo» (2000), «Das Alphorn» (2003), «Accordion Tribe» (2004) and now «heimatklänge« (2007), are visually beguiling and musically infatuating. Shaped by the director’s thoroughly cosmopolitan approach to the world, these films are much more than what are commonly referred to as music documentaries. It is precisely when Schwietert engages with what is apparently familiar and local that we find ourselves on an exciting voyage of discovery. Exploring disappearing traditions and new emergent forms, these journeys often take the viewer into the past and future at the same time. This is particularly true of the three films dealing with the music of the Alps, in which Schwietert focuses on an instrument as a way of exploring its musical history and the culture around it. The point of departure for these films is the observation that in recent years the traditional music of the Alps has experienced an awakening due to the influence of a «young« generation of well trained musicians who are adapting local folklore as they see best. After focusing on the alphorn three years ago and a year later on the accordion, Schwietert has now made «heimatklänge» (echoes of home), a film that engages with the most archaic of all instruments, the human voice. In this context he comes closer to the origins of music and human existence than in any of his previous films. As in his earlier work, «heimatklänge» sees Schwietert basing the exploration of his theme on the development, experience and accomplishments of his protagonists. He sets their work and creativity in the context of their lived experience and the landscapes that surround them. The film presents an associative montage of image, sound and text, effortlessly mixing found footage such as photos and home movies with newly shot material while at the same time not shying away from revealing the creative process of a documentary director. «heimatklänge» is an adventurous journey into excitingly unfamiliar worlds of sound, in which people experience a totally new sense of freedom in the discovery of their own unique voice.

The new Alpine Music
Since the age of Romanticism, alpine folk music has exerted a particular fascination on its listeners; in many places it is even regarded as the typical form of Swiss, Austrian, German or even central European music. Although this fascination has presumably ensured the survival of the alpine tradition, it has also made it difficult to maintain it as a natural form that continues to develop organically.
The alpine tradition seems to be largely confined to the dirndl-clad, folksy wholesomeness of television shows, or to museum pieces preserved by well-meaning folk music conservators in reaction to this commercialization. The result is that in the alpine region itself, while it may seem steeped in tradition, it is a matter of luck whether one actually encounters authentic music in the sense of a vital form that is open to change. A good example of this is yodeling, which has been the most prominent form of musical expression for alpine inhabitants since time immemorial. usually known today in its harmless, domesticated version, the original, archaic form of this wordless singing characterized by continual changes in register between chest and head tones is based on scales and intervals different to the major and minor scales we are familiar with today. These wild «natural cries» called Naturjuchzer or Naturjützli – and referred to as Zäuerli in the Appenzell region – have a unique quality for the listener. The «well-tempered» aesthetic that has dominated much of the music world since the 18th century has «de-educated» us to such an extent that we have lost a sense for other scales with the result that these «impure» notes strike us en- by turns as fascinating, exotic or simply wrong. Already in the early 1970s, urban music-lovers began to organize performances of traditional dance music and folk forums such as the lenzburger Folkfestival in order to demonstrate that the somewhat ribald music of the tavern and the dance hall had a power and vibrancy comparable with that of Irish jigs and reels. However, this realization remained confined to a small circle of folk music lovers. The great majority, above all in the younger generation, found no appeal in a folk music which seemed to present itself either as commercial kitsch or the lifeless maintenance of tradition according to strict rules. For over a decade now, alpine folk music has been undergoing changes that have caught attention and resounded with a broader section of the population that extends far beyond the small circle of the initiated. A «young» generation of musicians who have earned their spurs far away from alpine music in the jazz or avant-garde scenes have turned their attention to the traditional music of their homelands. They have reinstated a part of their cultural heritage that had been all but forgotten and acquainted a young audience with the anarchic power, ferocity and immediacy of the old «natural» tone series. These musicians are interpreting and changing their native folklore with a new sense of freedom and in doing so have liberated it from its status as a museum piece. They have brought the knowledge and influences collected elsewhere into alpine music and drawn it once again into a constant process of change and renewal. The music they play is as different and diverse as the musicians themselves; what they share are the roots on which their creativity draws. This phenomenon has now been recognized by international jazz festivals such as „Gipfel du Jazz « in Freiburg im Breisgau and maerzmusik 2007 in Berlin.

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