Alpen Rock? Now that’s a category I never saw at HMV or Virgin records in UK record shops of the 1980’s.
Was it all electric Alpine horns played loudly by long haired rockers with bad attitudes and black lederhosen? If anyone could further my knowledge on the matter it was accordion wonderman Hubert von Goisern at the Kunst!Rasen.
There are actually some half dozen lederhosen wearers in the audience, Which isn’t much in an audience of several thousand. Von Goisern himself is casually dressed with a handprint pattern on his red trousers, but they are made of cotton. The music itself is what I’m hear to discover though, and it sounds rather like something I would call blues – hang on, it IS blues! The subject is a lady named Corina but Eric Clapton would have called her ‘Alberta’. Severin Trogbacher is laying down a mean Blues riff on guitar and I’m pleased to say continued to do so all night – finding just the right touch between playing interesting riffs without using too many notes to play them. There’s also some excellent pedal steel guitar on offer this evening that only rarely drifts into Country territory I’m glad to say.
On the subject of Blues, Von Goisern also has some wise words to say about my favourite music: It’s not all about depression he reasons. Depression is black – and about the brightest you can get from that is anthrazite. Blues though is a far more colourful creature. All rather wonderfully put – at least I think that’s what he said. His accent is as pleasant but sadly often as impenetrable to me as BAP’s Kölsch.
It transpires that the American slant on the set-list is down to a recent visit to New Orleans that spawned the new CD ‘Federn’ (Feathers). Another year, or possibly, given Von Goisern’s musical experiences, another evening, and things might have been quite different. ‘Amazing Grace‘ on accordion certainly WAS different and rather wonderful too.
There is a lot of between songs talking, much of it incomprehensible to me, but understood in waves. Frequent reference to schnapps (or “Schnopps!” as the Man himself pronounced it, and he also pronounced it an effective medicinal drink). There are also excellent Folk songs that have the true fans singing along. A melancholy ‘Weit,Weit weg’ that lends a gentle nod to Dire Straits ‘So far away from me’ in style and thought as well as title. Ideal for one of those ‘wave a cigarette lighter in the air’ moments if it wasn’t yet 9pm and daylight. Political Rock moments too, as in the foot stomping ‘Snowdown’ with it’s history of revolution (Aufstand) and freedom together with some smoking Rock guitar (I do love this guitarist!)
There’s also good quality Pop in the hit ‘Brenna tuats guat’ with a touch of Poguesian wildness in there, along with a fierce accordion that accordian Maestro James Fearnley would love.
… and there IS also an Alpine Horn… Just the one, but a pretty big one that needs to be virtually wheeled onstage. If moving it isn’t hard enough, how on earth do you manage to get such a musical sound out of it? Von Goisern does it beautifully. Does it travel in a tour van bigger than the one for the band I wonder? How does he get it on a plane?
Speaking of airplanes, There are gentle songs to finish off the evening as von Goisern takes a seat behind the keyboard and the jet streams of two planes high above cross each other in a sign of spiritual appreciation perhaps?
I have been spiritually uplifted by the evening anyway. A man who has traveled the World and brought back something from each culture to make a unique sound, that some might call Alpen Rock, but migh equally be called musical bliss.