M85 Peek-a-boo (BE)

For her eighth full album – and three years after her English album Sweet Silence – Berlin musician and composer Barbara Morgenstern is back with Doppelstern, an album for which she collaborated with friends and colleagues. Known and less known names like T. Raumschmiere, Hauschka, Julia Kent (Antony & The Johnsons), Gudrun Gut, Lucretia Dalt and Jacaszek contribute, but ultimately Doppelstern sounds largely like a real Morgenstern album and that’s a good thing, because the formula has proven its success, and after listening to the 11 songs on the album, it is clear that it still works.

Barbara Morgenstern has hardly need to deal with major effects, because the melodies she writes (in this case in collaboration with guest artists) are strong enough to score a maximum effect with a minimum of supervision. She providees evidence In Was Du Nicht Siehst, Sollte Meins Sein and Too Much. The vocals are in the foreground and the support consists mainly of gently gurgling electronics and sensitive electronic percussion, with occasional gentle drones, passing through the soundscape like a shooting star. In Too Much she gets vocal assistance of Gudrun Gut, and together they make an attractive electro/dream-pop composition.

In Übermorgen we hear emphatic synthesizers and the artist gets vocal assistance of one of her fellow composers (Justus Kuhnke & Robert Lippok), with an attention-grabbing piano halfway and multicolored synth keys. The Texan composer and singer Corey Daregel stood at the cradle of No One Nowhere Cares, a thoroughbred singer-songwiter ballade in which Morgenstern and Dargel join forces, resulting in beautifully interwoven vocal lines. In Gleich ist Gleicher as Gleich, the Barcelona pop icon Lucrecia Dalt adds gentle noise to Morgensterns quiet electro sound, allowing a level of surrealism to penetrate in the general atmosphere of the track. Facades (with Julia Kent) is an instrumental track in which violin-like sounds provide an exotic effect, while the piano adds color to the whole. Simple, yet very beautiful.

Aglow was written in collaboration with the Japanese electronics producer and singer-songwriter Coppé (pronounced Co-pa’y). She also sings the Japanese vocals. The track sounds fuller than in former occassions, with a sparkling piano and strikingly present percussion. Slightly exotic and intoxicating, with a beautiful vocal line and attractive harmonies. The indefatigable Berlin music veteran Tonia Reeh – She has now formed the band !La Tourette! With Rudi Fischerlehner – provides vocal and compositional assistance in Schiess den Bock, a ballad that mainly relies on the sound of a lone piano, but in which the singing and the catchy chorus attract attention. A favorite.

The penultimate track on the album is called Lost in a Fiction and was developed in collaboration with Richard Davis, in which Morgenstern’s electronics make way for piano and string instruments. It is a corny ballad as Barbara Morgenstern would never write it, but the long instrumental track sounds very nice. Polish electroacoustic sound specialist Michal Jacaszek delivers the most surprising contribution with his Baroque and religiously inspired soundtrack for Den Kommenden Morgen, with voices, striking homophonic choral music, surreal piano sounds and an atmosphere reminiscent of the intense and frayed compositions by Arvo Pärt. Impressive, mysterious and stunning.

Text: William Lienard