(Staubgold)

One stumbles upon potential masterpieces almost by chance, but this time I must admit that the delay with which I came to this raw jewel is my exclusive fault, as I decided to give it a try after reading about it on various alternative sources. “A life without fear” is certainly a sleeper – and a keeper. Composed for “Lazarus Signs”, a coreography by Christoph Winkler, it’s a very lively album of disembodied blues, not necessarily American style (even if there are a few magnificent sequences that seem to be taken from a distant past and inserted in Ehlers’ personal time capsule) and no-genre, reflective atmospheres that mutate into dissonant preoccupation (check out “Maria & Martha”). At various times, Ehlers (processing and amps) is flanked by Joseph Suchy (guitar, balafon), Franz Hautzinger (trumpet), Howard Katz Firehart (vocals, mouthharp) and Björn Gottstein (viola). The many different nuances of the leader’s explorative manipulation elicit our visceral response only after a while, also because they almost sound ironic at a first listen. This music does not behave according to “canons” but looks for an aggregation point where all the confluences fuse in a single spiritual unit. The shining stars in this collection are many; my personal poor man’s Grammy goes to the heartwarming “Misorodzi”, a beautiful balafon-based African song which shapes as a perfect fusion of political and religious consciousness even without definite words. But it’s just the way the whole record sounds that is definitely attractive: it’s a homeless bastard that beats your heart remorselessly and, as a final touch, ends with an infinite loop transporting us into transcendental incoherence.

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