Releases of the Month, June 2021

The temperatures have risen and also the mood is soaring high. Concerts are possible again, even the ban on dancing has been lifted! Finally, normality sets in. Whatever that means. Or rather, whoever that applies to. For just as a glance across the English Channel shows that the joy over the long-awaited new beginning can quickly fizzle out, taking a glimpse at the big picture reveals that this pandemic is by no means over.

The effects of this on transcultural projects in particular become clear when you consider the case of the »Beethoven Eastern Variations.« The project, directed by Ulrich Mertin and Varun Desai, was intended as a collaboration between the Goethe-Instituts in Istanbul and Kolkata to reinterpret the composer's 7th Symphony for his 250th birthday with instruments used in classical Turkish and Indian music. However, it has only recently been released and instead of a new interpretation of the complete symphony on vinyl record, CD or as a digital release, the project was limited to the symphony’s second movement for obvious reasons. The resulting video piece has nevertheless turned out immensely impressive, both musically and visually. Last but not least, it underlines in precarious times how important culture is as a social bonding agent after all—this kiss to all the world!

Desai and the double bassist Debjit Mahalanobis, who contributed to the »Beethoven Eastern Variations,« are also part of the German-Indian group Hotel Kali. Their debut album, also made possible by the Goethe-Institut, was released on the ANTIME label, which is co-run by field notes editor Kristoffer Cornils. Meanwhile, the magazine's social media magician Fill Vingerhoets, co-founder of Bohemian Drips, helped release a site-specific work by Axel Dörner & Richard Scott. A Journal of Elasticity was recorded in 2017 at Wasserturm in Prenzlauer Berg as part of Speicher – Festival for Site-Specific Music. In the commissioned work, the space becomes the musical-sound accomplice of the two.

After all, that's what it's about now more than ever: creating connections, strengthening solidarity and collectively expanding one’s individual possibilities.