What we have here is an uber unusual recording created by one of the most unique musical personalities I have ever encountered. Matthias Loibner is a rare creature with a vast musical interest and a virtuoso mastery of the hurdy gurdy. He is also inventive and keeps discovering new ways of using the instrument, rather like Jordi Savall with the viola de gamba. This approach means total dedication and kind of self imposed exile from the mainstream. A bit like tuba player Michel Godard for example. But it also means a never ending challenge and that is worth more than anything else to the intelligent musician. Artistically it merges an entire musical tradition, from medieval to contemporary and breaks boundaries between the genders. Pieces like the opening ‘Eyesofsea’ or ‘Haut’ use Celtic and Gallic folk, but there are also Appalachian notes in it. There is always a strong historical context.
‘Glutsbruder’ is a lovely oriental and Mediterranean inspired tune. It mixes scales and origins and reflects the way that the world is such a multicultural melting pot. Despite all these competing influences Lichtungen is simply exquisite, full of melancholy and touching composition, with a mood that’s not unlike Peter Gabriel’s Passion (Music for The Last Temptation of Christ). ‘Folhas Citiliantes’ is like a dialogue between renaissance sarabande and baroque fugue; beautiful and focused. ‘L’Eau Dans La Mer’ puts together the beauty of the medieval laud with antiphonal accompaniment. All of this comes from a conversation with himself, despite what you believe you are hearing these are solo performances. ‘Kitchen Rain’ draws me back to musical impressionism with its simplicity and slightly faded sound, like a shy pizzicato dancing on a bass riff. ‘Sons De Carrlhoes’ is as unconcerned with feeling as the Folies Bergère melodies of the belle époque and is full of Parisian joie de vivre, with all its raptures and come downs.
Each piece has not only depth only but an abyss to explore. The more you listen the more you will find to enjoy. One could go on finding connections endlessly, but it always the case with great music. But I will leave that to the listener to discover. I have been listening to this music for four months now and whether I want to or not I cannot separate it from the flood of news coming from the near east. Watching the biggest movement of people since WWII, an exodus of different nations, blending cultural backgrounds and the upsurge of hatred and the challenge to trust and our humanitarian qualities it brings with it. I can’t stop thinking that this recording makes a perfect soundtrack to these reports. It merges our entire historic and artistic heritage, brings to life what pre-defined us and made us what we are today, what we will be next depends on what our choices will be like. I am speechless.