Boomkat Product Review:
Minimalist german vocalist Marianne Schuppe breaks down the definition of a “song” on ‘Nosongs’, her super sparse follow-up to 2015’s ‘Slow Songs’, further distilling/reducing that album’s themes for the estimable Edition Wandelweiser Records
Accompanying herself with lute and uber-bows in 11 ‘Nosongs’, Marianne vacillates english and german language in phrases that linger on the air, leaving lots of tenebrous silence and space to the imagination in a way that becomes just as crucial as the tangible sounds to the album’s hypnotic yet barely there pull.
Like probably at least a few others, we’re left wondering wtf are Uber Bows (Google’s providing no help), but that’s also the most trivial mystery about ‘Nosongs’, whose enigmatic appeal is genuinely timeless, bringing the age old craft of a bard or singer of myriad stripes, right down to their essence. Like any folky worth their Arran sweater collection, she has the transfixing quality of a singer who can silence a barn or room and draw the audience deep into her own world. But this really isn’t folk music, and what she’s doing appears to defuse more lofty avant-garde vocal music and bring it down to a plaintiveness that also implies some calm, religious, and devotional connotations, although they aren’t really there either.
What we’re left with feels like a cycle of songs seemingly shorn of sentimentality, yet remaining beautiful in a relatively popular sense, with only precisely chosen words and the subtlest of instrumental gestures that, through her precise enunciation and slow, careful cadence, maybe speak volumes more than artists who simply let it all out, which is nonetheless a valid approach. In other words, she’s doing for vocal music what Morton Feldman and Giacinto Scelsi have for instrumental piano music.