die Glorreichen Sieben (the Magnificent Seven)

Kalle kalima, Flo Götte, Christian Lillinger, Alfred Vogel

Everyone is saddled up. A “Crazy Horse” this time. Now they’re riding again, the four Glorreichen Sieben (“Magnificent Seven”) who already darted off in wild gallop on the album “Vogelperspektive, Vol. 2” – from Vorarlberg (Austria) through the urban landscapes of Berlin right into the lonely expanses of the Wild West.

Vogelperspektive Vol. 2 – Best of Western 2012
Keep on rockin’ in the free world – a tribute to Neil Young 2013

Boomslang Records, available at Amazon or as download

Kalle Kalima, guitars
Flo Götte, bass
Christian Lillinger, drums & percussion
Alfred Vogel, drums & percussion

Everyone is saddled up. A “Crazy Horse” this time. Now they’re riding again, the four Glorreichen Sieben (“Magnificent Seven”) who already darted off in wild gallop on the album “Vogelperspektive, Vol. 2” – from Vorarlberg (Austria) through the urban landscapes of Berlin right into the lonely expanses of the Wild West.

At the time, they had the title themes of “Bonanza”, “Winnetou”, “Once Upon a Time In The West” or “A Fistful of Dollars” stowed in their saddle bags – material that they interpreted without any campfire cliché.
Each song was like a sip of that black brew cowboys drink from their dented mugs after they let their horses have a well-deserved break. A true caffeine shock that makes you wide awake and picks you up, tangy, bitter, strong.
With its Western program, the quartet Die Glorreichen Sieben were even invited to the renowned “BMW Welt Jazz Award 2013”.

But now, the musicians are off to new pastures, with the work entitled Keep On Rockin` In The Free World. Band initiator and drummer Alfred Vogel wondered where the journey could take the four horsemen. Kalle Kalima, the Finnish guitarist of the improvising collective who lives in Berlin, suggested they should dare to explore the terrain of Neil Young. An idea that made immediate sense to Alfred Vogel and his comrades-in-arms.

Canadian singer Neil Young, who becomes a real ‘68 last November, is a cult figure of rock music and is even, in a way, considered the godfather of Grunge. He wrote music history together with bands such as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Crazy Horse or Buffalo Springfield, but also with many solo albums. He has always been this nonconformist who could translate an entire generation’s attitude towards life into music, into timeless, raw and still perfect songs that deal with society, with the problems, the injustices of the world. This Neil Young recited and still recites his songs – or may we call them hymns – in a slow-nasal voice, which is anything but beautiful in the classical sense – but still goes right through us. Just like the way he plays the guitar, which one could only describe as elemental, penetrating, disturbing.

“The guitar alone gives me the feeling of vastness“, Alfred Vogel says. “And that’s exactly what the sound of the Glorreichen Sieben makes me feel. Vastness is already created by positioning one percussion kit on the left (Alfred Vogel) and one on the right (Christian Lillinger). This allows to create an enormous carpet, this produces depth, vastness and an enormously wide surface. And there we once again have the prairie, this openness, this view to the outside.”

Moving between the two drums of Alfred Vogel and Christian Lillinger are bassist Flo Götte, another Neil Young maniac, and guitarist Kalle Kalima with a rough, undisguised matter-of-course manner, sometimes playing only a few chords of themes and melodies, sometimes playing them in full, “Cinnamon Girl”, “Heart Of Gold”, “Ready For The Country”, “After The Goldrush”, “Like A Hurricane” – but, with the two drummers, they only use these themes as impulse for improvisations that go the whole hog and take the full risk. With open ending. “Actually, this is Free Jazz,” Alfred Vogel laughs, who would be very interested in knowing how the originator of the material might react to these ad hoc excursions.

On a long six hours’ drive from Jena to Bregenz, Alfred Vogel and Flo Götte played a Neil Young marathon to each other, just after the idea for the new program of the Glorreichen Sieben had been born. “Actually, the only album by Neil Young I have always had at home is Harvest. But all of a sudden, I heard his music with completely different ears, with a completely different awareness than before. Nevertheless,” Alfred Vogel tells, “I knew that, this time as well, we were going to approach the musical interpretation of the theme in a completely unbiased fashion. I like what Young emanates, that he has this connection to a world in between to that I also feel close. He writes songs that he simply has to write, songs that somehow have already been there.”

And like Young fishes his songs out of the air, so to say, Alfred Vogel, Christian Lillinger, Flo Götte and Kalle Kalima sense exactly what improvisational options are buzzing in the sphere around them.

This is also expressed in the open sound of the new album, which, like its predecessor, was recorded in Vogel‘s studio in his home town Bezau in Vorarlberg (and is now published under his label “Boomslang Records”). “I have learned more since my last album – after all, it’s not every day that you record music with two drummers.” Interestingly, Keep On Rockin` In The Free World was mixed by Aaron Mason, a born-and-bred Australian who naturally knows about vastness.

And let us not forget the cover (design: Lucas Dietrich) of this remarkable album. The photograph: An old man with distinctive lines in his face burnt in by life, stands in crinkled clothes, a coat over his arm, in front of a grilled window. To his left – you really have to look very carefully to see it – a sad percussion kit is leaning against the wall, folded so that it is almost as narrow as the last straw we cling to. Alfred Vogel: “In an abstract way, this picture also has something to do with the state of our world. But, first and foremost, it reminds me that no matter what is behind you, you don’t have a choice but to carry on with what you love. Hope dies last.”