For years the duo “Die Strottern” has been making a name for itself in the local music scene and has succeeded in being recognized as a fundamental institution on the Austrian music map. With their fresh and modern version of traditional Viennese music, Klemens Lendl (vocals and violin) and David Müller (vocals & guitar) are jointly responsible for rejuvenating this specific style of music. However, the two musicians are by no means interested in maintaining ancient artifacts. With their interpretation of Viennese song, the duo rather proves that there is a lot more to say in this genre, without having to correspond to traditional stereotypes. Thus, it is a long and elaborate balancing act that Klemens Lendl and David Müller have taken upon themselves – a balancing act between traditions and modern approaches, between the vast treasure of Viennese songs and the inclusion of sound elements from other musical styles such as jazz. Die Strottern is dedicated to a new, modern and charming interpretation of traditional Viennese music that even appeals to those who are rarely into this kind of music.
Die Strottern – the name derives from the Viennese expression “Strotter”, which stands for vagabond, crook, tramp – do not take the concept of “Viennese songs” too seriously. For them, it is more important to create their own version of the original Viennese music and to rip it away from its prejudiced context. This means nothing other than to point to different directions, such as to the fields of jazz, pop, world music and modern singer/songwriting. This approach is certainly a balancing act, which is often not very easy to master. “The Viennese song is not a form of music in which innovation was ever a big priority. It’s more about tradition and there are many closed areas that many people want to keep that way. This stereotypical thinking is still deeply rooted in the mind, especially with older musicians. Therefore, we ourselves have to be much more active to get rid of this thinking”, said Klemens Lendl in a mica-interview in 2008.
The debut album of multiple award-winning duo (Austrian World Music Awards in 2006, Fraunhofer Folk Music Award in 2008, Amadeus Austrian Music Award in the category Jazz/World/Blues in 2009) with the title “Wien bleibt Wien” from 1998 already revealed the unmistakable musical orientation of the two musicians. This album contains classic Viennese songs, wrapped in a contemporary sonic garb, which offers an entirely new form of sound. In subsequent years, Klemens Lendl and David Müller were responsible for quite a stir due to their collaborations with the Viennese poet Ahorner, who wrote wonderful Viennese lyrics for their impressive album “mea ois gean” in 2003.
Die Strottern are often willing to abandon their traditional musical environment, which shows in the joint projects with musicians of the Wiener Jazzwerkstatt. In the tradition of Kurt Sowinetz, Helmut Qualtinger and Ernst Jandl, they created fascinating new musical versions of Viennese texts and released the results on the album “Elegant” in 2009. The most recent publication of Die Strottern is no less exciting. The CD “Das größte Glück”, released in 2010, is a live recording of two concert evenings at the venue Theater am Spittelberg, which reveals itself as a musical treasure chest filled to the brim with shiny pearls of traditional Viennese songs from the 19th and 20th century glazed with a modern touch.
With their unique and innovative approach, Klemens Lendl and David Müller have succeeded in combining the past, present and future of the Viennese song and translating it in an impressive musical language, which is enormously rich in its various shades and its tremendous charm. With the ability to consistently expand the music with exciting new facets, we may assume that we will hear a lot more from this exceptional duo in the future.
(translated from German)
Photos © Peter Mayr