Distorted accordion and Kletzmer antics

Last night the Berlin audience was finally given a chance to raise its voice as POING completed a stunning concert. The audience demanded an encore, and the ensemble’s answer was a symbolically heavily laden cavalcade of Berlin’s musical history says Nicholas H. Møllerhaug, MIC/Ballade’s very own Magma 2002 reporter.


Last night saw the Norwegian trio POING entering the Tränenpalast, playing a concert that literally blew the minds of the Berlin audience. In many ways, the ensemble played themselves into and then out of history as the musicians portrayed Berlin in a unique historical context. Trough a moving side-theme, POING managed to showcase the qualities that Magma should strive for. As the trio ended the concert with a free improvised, kletzmer-funky, double-bassophilic and totally lyrical passage with strong melodic motives, one could do nothing but to join the standing ovation.

POING’s subtle, playful and searching Magma concert proved to be a striking event. The concert took place in the Tränenpalast – The House of Tears where East- and West-Berliners could meet their relatives from the other side of the wall for minute-long meetings years apart. A house of allotted time. Much of the same aspects could be applied to music – all music could bee seen as management of time and space. POING’s concert programme represented a skilful, innovative and wholesomely executed example of such management of allotted time. Maja Ratkje’s composition Essential Extensions kicked off the carnival. One can trace much of her aesthetics to her unique approach to the human voice – it’s as if singing is her manifest. Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim once stated; Everything must sing! The influence might be indirect in Ratkje’s work, but one can sense the syllables and diphthongs as well as vocal outbursts that don’t interrupt the setting.

Dane Jesper Holmen and Icelander Àki Àsgeirsson supplied the Nordic identity of the concert. The two represented two striking impressions from two diverse musical languages, or more correctly renewal of musical styles. Holmen’s tension III: DISEMBARASS appeared as an odd, hardcore and distorted version of Arvo Pärt’s Fratres. I applaud the transformation of accordion into a veritable noise machine-gun – credits to the sound engineer.

Øyvind Torvund’s Giants of Jazz was POING’s closing number last night. It was a work of much crispy instrumentation and motivistic management. Ratkje’s style appears slightly more baroque than Torvund’s more early renaissance approach. Don’t read this literally – Torvund’s tribute to the history of jazz is also an original tribute to the melody.

POING’s interplay is unique. We get to experience a listening trio in which the members open up for each other as the concert progresses. Their appearance is humorous as well - their absurd tourist-German comments were a real bonus and led to a hysterically funny concert. After an overdose of the Nordics, Berlin was given a chance to shout out loud during POING’s encore. POING delivered an intense Berlin cavalcade with one of music’s most heavily symbolic-laden genres attached.

Kletzmer-music played an important role in Berlin, and we all know the fate met by its performers during the 30s and 40s. The Kletzmer left a heavy influence on POING’s fantastic encore. In a masterly way, POING showed us what Berlin’s musical identity is, as the saxophone’s trembling voice sang the same way the jiddisch clarinets do. POING’s concert reminds us of an important aspect of a festival of this magnitude: One must include what “the other city (in this sense the location of the Magma Festival)” can convey to us. POING managed to convey this, and could easily have played through the night if had desired to do so.

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