Various Artists – New German Ethnic Music: Immigrant’s Songs from Germany Electronically Reworked (Karoake Kalk)


Beneath its staid, ethnology textbook title, New German Ethnic Music: Immigrant´s Songs from Germany Electronically Reworked hides an invigorating heterotopia of world music bric-a-brac. Inspired by composer Henry Flynt´s crossbreeding of supplanted indigenous American styles with electronic production in the 1970s, the folklore of the new, post-postwar Germany – its immigrant population´s musics, the largest and fastest-growing in the EU – is given its own, updated treatment under the auspices of the Heimatlieder aus Deutschland project.

An impressive vanguard of young and yeoman experimental artists, including Guido Möbius, Margaret Dygas, Gudrun Gut, Mark Ernestus, Ulrich Schnauss and Matias Aguayo, remix “domestic” music with roots in Cuban, Portuguese, Vietnamese, African, Arab and east and southeast European cultures. Dygas proves that you don´t have to go far to end up somewhere exotic; her dub remix of a Polish song about pre-arranged marriage jitters, ´Czemuzes Mnie, Matulenko´, is one of the most enchantingly strange in the collection, and Gut´s rhythmic collage of the Dalmatian klapa (now inscribed on UNESCO´s list of the intangible heritage of mankind) is handled delicately with a polite but appropriate beat.

Niobe and Matias Aguayo dramatically refit choral music from Vietnam and the Spanish Renaissance, respectively, with the latter driving his choir down the Autobahn with the top down. Mark Ernestus´ ´Groove 26´ finds him back in Africa (or Africa back in him) and German-Korean duo Symbiz Sound look ancestral-homeward with a remarkable piece that sounds something like what Steve Reich might do with a Korean-language version of a song from The Sound of Music, ´Go Hyang yui Bom (고향의 봄)´.

The notion of releasing a series of remixes, rather than originals, is a quiet protest against electronica´s recent obsession with the recent past (hypnagogic pop, hauntology, etc.) as obfuscating optimism about the now and the very near future. Not only is New German Ethnic Music a wildly successful Frankensteinian experiment but also a smooth rough guide to an array of international talents.


About Author

Born and raised in Toronto, Stephen Fruitman has been living in northern Sweden lo these past thirty years. Writing and lecturing about art and culture as an historian of ideas since the early nineties, his articles have appeared in an number of international publications. He is also a contributing editor at Igloo Magazine.