FolkWorld Issue 40 11/2009
by Karsten Rube
Dear FolkWorld readers,
this year the TV station Arte celebrated the Summer of the 80's and honoured their viewers with music and culture from an alien planet, so it seems sometimes. Other stations dug up musical apparitions on chart shows for months, which had rightly been forgotten and buried. Even radio stations occasionally turn off their computer-generated musical carpets and question their listeners what they hadn't heard for a long time and were eager to hear again.
Remembrance is cool.
Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, retrospection is popular enough to fill the generally inexisting imagination of the media designers with welcoming brownfields. You look on achievements, strike a balance, celebrate yourself. There are sufficient reasons. Twenty years after the demolition of the Iron Curtain are twenty years in which culture was allowed to flow unhamperedly in all directions, yes, was allowed to flood sometimes. Many a musical high-water I'd wished would have been less severe. But it is an enrichment of the culture in any case. There was a massive reggae impact coming from the west. Hardly a musical scene is that Jamaican as the German. Even politics is talking about the Jamaica coalition. Cubanismo crept into Bavarian beer tents. Whoever listened to the Bavarian group Die Cubaboarischen knows that the combination of tequila and weißwurscht can be charming. Balkan beats spilled over from the east, managing that some festivals seem to be made up almost of brass and fiddle dervishs only. Yet oriental beats don't belong that naturally to our audio customs as doner kebab goes with coke, but meanwhile soul and rhythm&blues are a determined component of German-language music including the most horrible shallows of German schlager music.
The opening of the borders led to the fusion of cultures in any imaginable and utopian combination. And this without pushing traditional elements aside. You may find musical exorbitance from time to time - the Eurovision Song Contest is the most alarming example for that. However, the artistic diversity, which developed worldwide, is a desirable and positive aspect of the globalisation. Twenty years after ending the Socialistic thought-dicatorship mean twenty years of recovered freedom of opinion. Those that once were affected by the censorship of speech and writing were glad that they were eventually allowed to express themselves without having to fear any reprisals. However, they had to experience that either nobody listens to them or reprisals strike from a different side. It is a recent experience, not too far away from censorship of the old school, that lobby or economical interests instead of dictatorial speech impediments lead to the distortion of the public opinion today, and the general terror prevention brings many a publication to the brink of restraining any speech and expression.
However, the newly found freedom outweighs the many deficiencies.
A nostalgic feeling is overwhelming me considering the past twenty years and thinking about those that have left us too early. Let me mention the singer-songwriter Gerhard Gundermann. Even in retrospection, the singing caterpillar driver is one of the greatest German singing poets. Despite of huge efforts and excellent performers you will not find any noteworthy similar brilliance in the Liederbestenliste until today. You have to remember the fierce music critic Barry Graves who died on 8th September fifteen years ago, with whom the German radio scene would look much kinder today. You also should think of the passing away of promising cultural projects. The Berlin area was exceptionally successful with cultural euthanasia in the last years. Several theatres were closed, radio stations cut off or reformed that they went down the drain, which enraged the paying public. Truly, the past twenty years have not been emotionally poor.
The look onwards remains optimistic though. For new things grow on the ruins of blown chances, the FolkWorld staff directs an attentive ear to new ideas, new projects and new music time and again. Hence this issue once again is full to the brim with live reports, news and gossip from the folk and world music scene and cd reviews from all over the world. As always some are euphoric, many friendly, others restrained and sporadically shattering. There is no pseudo-objective, affirmative journalism as in many a feuilleton, and definitely no extension of the public relation departments as some artists and labels seem to dream of.
Music throughout any ages and genres is an immediate expression of emotions and the spiritual condition of man. The reason to play music is expressing feelings and hoping to transmit them to the listener. By the way, a kind of liberal exchange of ideas which no dictatorial system had ever the ability to suppress.
Let us enjoy the freedom as musician and listener, writer and reader alike. Let us being carried away by the music to feelings and thoughts, express them without reservation and censorship, exchange views, delight us with the familiar and discover the new.
Having said this, I wish you much pleasure with reading another FolkWorld issue. Karsten Rube
© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 11/2009
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