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The Munich-born, Vienna-based classically-trained vocalist and voice artist Christian Reiner focuses on poetry, prose and experimental texts, and his work can be seen somewhere between language, the possibilities of the improvised human voice and music. He released two solo albums for ECM in which he recited the poetry of German poet Friedrich Hölderlin, «Turmgedichte» and explored verses written by Russian-American poet and Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky on «Elegie an John Donne» (ECM, 2012 and 2017), and worked with improvisers like bassist Christian Weber, pianist Philip Zoubek and drummer Wolfgang Reisinger. Fellow Viennese guitarist and in-demand sound engineer Martin Siewert (who was also born in Germany, in the city of Saarbrücken), recorded Reiner albums for ECM and is known for the art-rock trio Radian and his collaborations with drummer Katharina Ernst (in the duo Also), Ken Vandermark and Christian Fennesz. Like Reiner, Siewert has worked for theatre, film and radio productions.

«erstens» is the first album of Reiner and Siewert, who collaborated many times before and performed in the 2021 edition of the Saalfelden Festival in a quintet with Weber, Zoubek and drummer Jim Black, and it represents the most experimental sides of both artists. Reiner composed the texts, all of them are in German, and quotes in one piece («Gewöhn Dich Nicht Daranthe») German poet Christian Morgenstern and in another piece («Nichts Gesagt»), the post-war German poet Marie Luise Kaschnitz. Siewert improvised-composed the music in real-time, recorded, mixed and mastered the 11 songs in his Viennese studio.

Siewert’s imaginative raw and noisy sonic ideas anchor Reiner’s poetic musings in industrial, urgent and urban settings. Reiner’s dramatic voice often becomes a sound source for the thorny entanglements of Siewert, and Reiner adapts his dadaist delivery to the sudden rhythmic patterns and his rough sounds of Siewert (check «rsbstl» and «Mit 24 Vögeln»). The longest pieces «Anita» and «Nichts Gesagt» capture best the theatrical and dadaist-eccentric vocal artistry of Reiner and the idiosyncratic sonic vision of Siewert and both pieces have evocative, haunting emotional power.

Eyal Hareuveni

Christian Reiner (voice), Martin Siewert (g, elec) 


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