All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

151

POING / Maja S.K. Ratkje: Wach auf!

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
Wach auf! (Wake up! in German) is only the third release by POING in its 12 years of activity, but what a remarkable achievement from a Norwegian trio whose repertoire encompasses compositions by pioneer minimalist composer Terry Riley, nuevo-tango composer Astor Piazzolla , political alt-rock band Rage Against The Machine, Russian songwriter Vladimir Vysotsky, Prince, Charles Mingus, and many more.

This genre-bending trio decided, this time, to pay tribute to some of the iconic, socialist-tinged songs of Berthold Brecht, Kurt Weill and Hans Eisler. POING and long-time partner Maja S.K. Ratkje have been performing these songs for over ten years as an annual concert on the night before May 1st, the International Workers' Day, in the clubs of Oslo.

The album title is a fitting name for a collection of songs that were calling for a red revolution in the 1920s and '30s, but are still relevant in an age defined by egocentric, postmodern capitalism and liberalism. POING relies on Brecht's advice, encouraging artists to play with and exaggerate the elements used onstage. This involved "stripping the event of its self-evident, familiar, obvious quality and creating a sense of astonishment and curiosity." By doing so, he hoped to communicate that the audience's reality is equally constructed and changeable.

POING and Ratkje don't hesitate to play and reconstruct these iconic songs, injecting their own sense of humor and irony, and performing them with great passion, highly creative arrangements and excellent musicianship, making them their own without surrendering to nostalgia. The charismatic Ratkje leads the quartet with her operatic voice and commanding theatrical performance—in the vein of great female interpreters of Brecht such as Lotte Lenya and Ute Lemper— but in her own idiosyncratic style. She sings socialist anthems, such as "Solidaritätslied" (Socialist Unity) and "Revolusjonens Røst" (Revolution Calling). In their native German in a natural manner, while POING adds an ironic march-like rhythm and choral vocals that sound like a tribute to the Red Russian Army Choir on "Solidaritätslied," and a happy Klezmer-like arrangement to "Revolusjonens Røst."

"Nationalhymne Der DDR" (the anthem of former East Germany) and the "National Anthem Of Russia" are deconstructed and stripped down from their original pathos and sentimentality, performed instead as short beautiful melodies. "Die Seeräuberjenny" (Surabaya Johnny) begins as a straight-ahead reading of the famous song, but POING and Ratkje evolve the arrangement into a festive, futuristic, noisy set of sounds that portray a failed love affair. "Youkali Tango," performed by POING alone, is the only song to retain its original cabaret-like outline, but with much more room for freely improvised interplay, while Ratkje delivers "Kanonensong," from the Three Penny Opera, as detached from its emotional, historic context, sung as if it were a modern song depicting another tragic war.

Track Listing: Der Morgenchoral Des Peachum; Solidaritätslied; Der Song Von Mandelay; Vom Ertrunkenen Mädchen; Nationalhymne Der DDR; Die Seeräuberjenny; Seeing Red 1; Revolusjonens Røst (Revolution Calling); Gategutt; Youkali Tango; Mining For Gold; Seeing Red 2; True Colours; Kanonensong; National Anthem Of Russia.

Personnel: Maja S.K. Ratkje: vocals, sounds; Rolf Erik Nystrøm: saxophones, vocals; Frode Haltli: accordion, vocals; Håkon Thelin: double-bass, vocals.

Title: Wach auf! | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Ora Fonogram

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Humanities CD/LP/Track Review
Humanities
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Wild Is The Wind CD/LP/Track Review
Wild Is The Wind
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review
Fairytales
by Gareth Thompson
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Origins CD/LP/Track Review
Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2018
Read "May I Introduce To You" CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017
Read "20" CD/LP/Track Review 20
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)" CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "All Smiles" CD/LP/Track Review All Smiles
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 31, 2017
Read "Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960" CD/LP/Track Review Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 29, 2017
Read "Accelerated Projection" CD/LP/Track Review Accelerated Projection
by Don Phipps
Published: February 14, 2018