Austrian Music Highlights #6

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On the anniversary of a year that’s been like no other, even under the circumstances, the singles, albums, events and initiatives have not let up. Adjustments have been made; re-adjustments made again; and again. The flexibility and adaptability of the musicians who carry on the beats of our lives has been nothing less than admirable. Here are some of the highlights of these times, as strange, confusing and interesting as they may be.


The debut album by Kathrin Kolleritsch, aka KEROSIN95, entitled “Volume 1” (Ink) will be dropping on March 19th. Known from formations like Kaiko and My Ugly Clementine, Kerosin95 started as a ‘simple’ rap project, but has developed into something much more – music, performance, unconventionality, complexity, political assertiveness and advocacy. “Volume 1” is the next step on the artist’s multifaceted journey, and the ship sails tomorrow.

Following the releases of a few powerful singles (“Stuck”, “Pull Away”, “Stay a Little Longer”), MIRA LU KOVACS’ first solo album “What Else Can Break” (Ink) will be out in full at the end of March. With 3 trio albums as SCHMIEDS PULS behind her, she has now recorded her vocals and guitar tracks for the first time on her own, with her ‘bedroom recording sessions’. Produced together with Sophie Lindinger (Leyya, My Ugly Clementine), the album features tracks, new and old (one dating back 2 decades), and is yet another testament to the uniquely introspective, relentlessly vulnerable and deeply personal sound that only Mira can produce. As she told us in a mica interview, “I think my music always highlights the fact that humans are not linear beings. […] I don’t know any person who doesn’t have at least one supposed contradiction in them. I think it’s that friction that you carry around with you, that also drives you.”


HVOB has just released their first live album, entitled: “Live in London” (Tragen Records), which was recorded at a sold out show on April 13, 2019 at the “Electric Brixton“. Accompanying the album is a short documentary by Nicola von Leffern called, “Let’s Keep this Quiet” which feels like nothing short of a nostalgic love letter to simpler times, before touring was halted and live music became trapped behind the screen. The film is like a soft, quiet humming to the intense and powerful music it accompanies. It gives fans an honest and intimate look into the broad scope of emotions and physical experiences of tour life. The combination of live music with the adhering behind-the-scenes messages of joy, fear, celebration and vulnerability is nothing less than moving.

DZIHAN & KAMIEN, the Viennese music producer duo consisting of Vlado Dzihan and Mario Kamien, have just released a new album, “IV” featuring artists like Jahson the Scientist, who appears on the song “99” which acts like an homage to that year; perhaps the last year of the last good century? Even though not all the references are so sweet, there is still an air of innocence lost to this song.


The latest recording project of Klangforum Wien – a special edition, limited publication in the form of 5-part box-set – incorporates the work of the most cutting edge and reputable positions in contemporary music. Unsurprisingly, OLGA NEUWIRTH is included. Her 6-piece album, “Solo” (Kairos) was recorded by Klangforum Wien last year in the Mozart Hall of the Vienna Konzerthaus. The first piece is the commissioned work for percussion, entitled “CoronAtion I: io son ferito ahimè” (2020). The composer’s musical fury perpetually challenges the listener, while inducing curiosity in the unexpected and unexplained.

BILDERBUCH will be releasing 2 singles on March 19th “Nahuel Huapi” and “Daydrinking”. Music Export got a sneak listen, and we can confidently tell you, you’re in for a treat. The laid back, twangy groove of “Nahuel Huapi” and the atmospheric smoothness of “Daydrinking” with rattlesnake-like drums and interstellar sounds, have the ingredients to lift you from whatever reality you might find yourself in, and take you somewhere generously more utopian. Bilderbuch finds itself beyond irony. Last winter, before our world changed so drastically, the first sketches of these songs were made during the band’s time in Patagonia. “The silvery sound of “Nahuel Huapi” and “Daydrinking”, which is reminiscent of glistening glaciers and deep blue mountain lakes, is an ode to longing and optimism. A new time demands a new sound.”

Bilderbuch © Hendrik Schneider


It’s safe to say that most of us have never sat for so long in front of our screens, actively or passively, as much as we have over the past year. With mixed feelings for sure, from the creators and consumers alike, most of us have taken part in one stream or another. The bad news is, we all miss live music like hell. But the good news is that our ability to take in live concerts has become, more or less, barrier-free, depending on our internet connections, screaming kids, annoying roommates, or any other personal hindrances. But all that aside, the live shows have entered our living rooms in one way or another and, for that, we are grateful. While every venue or collective has taken a different approach, here are a few notable streaming soldiers fighting the good fight to keep our musical muscles toned.

PORGY & BESS didn’t waste a second on getting their streaming flow up and running. Shortly after the first lockdown, the jazz club began a collaboration with the video class of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, and created a professional film set with which to present their concert series: “The show must go on(line)”. Once they got the swing of things, they bought those cameras in order to enable a long-term streaming system which Director Christoph Huber says he plans to maintain as a parallel running entity to the live audience concerts in the future. As he says, “Nobody will stay home when they have a chance to go see live music,” so he doesn’t see it as a competition, but a barrier-free way to broaden the audience past geographical borders, time zones and sold-out shows. As he notes, as challenging as it has been, for Porgy, the streaming system has brought certain benefits, like allowing musicians to be discovered and heard by audience members around the world. Moreover, he has been “touched by the community’s energy and support” shown over this difficult period. If corona has taught us one thing in the music world, it’s how much we cherish experiencing it live and in person. And that’s a worthwhile realization. Porgy & Bess’s current “The show must go on(line) again” series, is still up and running strong (as in, daily), so there is no shortage of shows to watch.

In the same vein, SARGFABRIK hasn’t let the pandemic stop them either. March 18, the GOLNAR & MAHAN Trio – Golnar Shahyar (voice, piano, guitar and synth), Mahan Mirarab (guitar, fretless-guitar and electronics) & Amir Wahba (percussion) – will once again expertly and inventively confront the mainstream understanding of contemporary music and pursue their collective vision in the stunningly broad sound canvas of the Golnar & Mahan Trio. Offering a masterful and fresh approach to the art of musical storytelling, they draw together elements of contemporary jazz, middle Eastern and west African folk, poly-rhythmic grooves, Afro-Cuban and European chamber music to create an original international music with roots in a shared heritage.


It’s FRIEDRICH CERHA’s 95th birthday year, and to honor the New Music legend, Radiokulturhaus will host a streaming concert on March 22nd from the Großen Sendesaal, including 3 world premieres for organ (Wolfgang Kogert), trombone (Walter Voglmayr) and voice (Agata Zubel), the Webern Sinfonietta of the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (mdw) and Ernst Kovacic as conductor. Cerha’s compositional oeuvre encompasses almost all formats, from small-scale chamber music works to his large, seven-part orchestral cycle “Spiegel,” his operas “Netzwerk,” “Baal” and most recently “Onkel Präsident” (2010). Cerha wrote the solo piece “Otto foglie per trombone solo” (2018/19) for Voglmayr, which will be premiered on this evening.

Friedrich Cerha © Universal Edition/Eric Marinitsch

On the occasion of the 85th birthday of ARVO PÄRT (September 2020) and the 75th anniversary of the Bavarian Radio Chorus (May 2021), the new CD “Miserere” was released in early March. Performed by the Bavarian Radio Chorus, Munich Radio Orchestra, oenm (Austrian ensemble for new music) and conducted by Howard Arman, “Miserere” covers the Pärt’s work from 1986 to 2019. Estonian composer, with Austrian citizenship, he has succeeded in bringing sacred music back to a broader audience more than almost any other contemporary composer. His bare minimum approach to musical forms, combined with the meditative character of his works, create moments of intense spirituality.

Arianna Fleur