Austrian Music Highlights #1

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In our new monthly column “Austrian Music Highlights” we are offering the latest news at a glance. Find out about exciting new releases, the most interesting live tours & festivals, about award winners and nominees and business news. Listen to selections from this list on our Spotify Playlist.


It goes without saying that CHRISTIAN FENNESZ is an exceptional artist. Decades into his career, the Austrian ambient stalwart’s release Agora (Touch Records) can be found in many of 2019’s year-end lists, including number 3 in Popmatters‘ Best Ambient Charts (”Christian Fennesz is an ambient musician who jerks tears the way the best pop songwriters do“) and number 9 in Pitchfork’s Best of 2019 list (“The magic of Christian Fennesz’s work comes in the way he turns the minimal into the maximal, expanding tiny moments into huge sonic environments.“). If you’re located in North America, you’re in luck as the musician just announced his first tour of the region in nearly a decade.

In Musikexpress’ 2019 best-of-list, several other Austrian acts were to be found, including VOODOO JÜRGENS and his latest record S’Klane Glücksspiel (#27), Pauls Jets‘ debut Alle Songs bisher (#26) and BILDERBUCH’s Vernissage My Heart (#33). At the turning of a new decade, a variety of additional best-of lists covering the past 50 years also came out – as it happened in Spex. The influential German magazine nominated even two records from Austrian expats JA, PANIK. 2014’s Libertatia made it to #20 and 2011’s DMD KIU LIDT made #5 on Spex’s impressive least.

From Debut-Release to interactive opera

We’re not here to deliver you reviews though – but also previews. Let’s focus on what’s happening this month: German lyrics, soft electronic vibes, airy but melancholic sounds – dream-pop duo OEHL are finally releasing their debut record Über Nacht via Groenland Records.

Further more, the Max Nagl Trio are releasing their new record, Moped (JazzWerkstatt Records). Award-winning saxophonist and composer MAX NAGL is presenting virtuous, yet unpretentious pieces that transcend traditional jazz styles while creating something irresistibly idiosyncratic. Another highly anticipated record is being released on JazzWerkstatt Records – unique jazz-formation CHUFFDRONE have just presented  actio/re:action, an extremely diversified and energsetically charged new double album.

Additionally, one of Austria’s busiest and most sought-after jazz pianists, DAVID HELBOCK will be doing an international tour presenting his latest record Playing John Williams (ACT Music), covering 30 shows from January to June.

For those of you who happen to be in Belgium, we recommend you check out one of the highlights of Austrian Contemporary Music: ŠIMON VOSEČEK’s interactive opera “Be My Superstar“ is going to be presented at Lod Muziektheater in Ghent and Theater ‘T Eilandje in Antwerp. Directed by Alexandra Lacroix and based on Yann Verburgh’s H.S. Tragédies ordinaires, it’s a moving work about bullying – something every young person has to deal with, be it first hand or from a distance. It’s thus especially recommended for younger audiences aged 14 and over.

And to take a glance at world music: instrumental acoustic formation COBARIO have kicked off their extensive winter tour. They’re presenting their latest release weit weg, an album musically wandering in various directions, and offering new stylistic approaches.

and the winner is…

Finally our congratulations go to Avant-Pop band 5K HD who just won the Music Moves Talent Award 2020 in Groningen – a price that is awarded to emerging artists in the field of popular music by the EU. But that’s not all as a top-class jury nominated their album High Performer (Ink Music) as Impala European Album of the Year 2019. The winners of this EU-wide competition will be announced by end of March.

5K HD win MMETA (c) Knelis
5K HD win MMETA (c) Knelis

Shilla Strelka