The second album from SHRUBBN!! (aka Schieres and T.Raumschmiere) displays a map of Europe on its cover, as might be expected from the title. And it is an old map, a real one, from a time before comprehensive digital measurement -- brown, green, red, and somehow easy to place as a landscape. The map is a kind of dream world consisting of sounds, paths, cities and villages that may no longer exist apart from on this printed map. It annoys us, no update, and redirects our gaze on the wonderful tableau made up of places and names. The song titles on EUROPA also draw from the inexhaustible riches of the dialects and villages. From a musical perspective, this record is like an amazing journey through an (old?) Europe that is fed by more than just numbers, tables and statistics. It is the work of people who do not regard Europe as a delineated, purpose-driven community with lawmakers, regulations, domestic markets and business transactions. It is not a Europe of banks and consortiums and organized crime, nor a cluster of stereotypes that only emerge in order to dispense with the need to represent complex and interesting differences and fractions.
Unlike its predecessor Echos, which represented something rather hidden and gloomy, from black and white and light and shadow -- musically speaking, EUROPA has also clearly changed direction, towards land and people. Slowly, in cork and copper, in leather and hemp, we are making science fiction, or swordplay, or taking a break, or something else. All of this glows quite nicely and softly at the end: matt and shadowed rather than shining and bold. This is exactly how the new album from SHRUBBN!! (the two musicians Schieres and T.Raumschmiere) begins. All the tracks on EUROPA are named after cities that clang: Elk, Hull, Freistritz an der Gail, Valladolid and Anenii Noi. No sooner are they named than they become utopian places; we have never been to those places, and yet we know them. As taste, smell, sound, or idea. And here as a song.
And it also sounds incredible.
01 ELK --- the universe screeches and lands on earth. Sawtoothed flowers and an utterly beautiful intro. The universe finally lands on the lost Alp.
02 LOM --- getting right down to it in Lom: a world population proclaims electricity and light and shadow, edges, corners. Cubist electronics over a dense beat. Unlike the ECHOS period, this sound is a powerful floor SHRUBBN!!
03 ESKILSTUNA --- probably somewhere in Scandinavia. The music sounds something like snow and rock crystal. One melody after another sits between the round, beautifully layered chord pads, along with a patter of electronic puddles.
04 VOVCHANS'KI --- is a typical track from the Europa phase. A European yearning for the avant-gardist of 1922, modern and extremely brilliant somewhere else.
05 ATHARI --- a landscape rushes in the direction of its description. Schieres and T.Raumschmiere manoeuver through snapshots, waves and highways in a meadow from elsewhere.
06 ANENII NOI --- is a fantastic SHRUBBN!! track that still breathes the spirit of Echos. It has a wonderful delayed beat, painted in BEat-tonal 'drums' (LynSynthDryms).
07 MONDRAGON --- a European spirit is conjured again here, one that is much freer and more beautiful, and seems lost for nearly 100 years. Future 2 pluperfect-whatever of crashing layers of melodies and clear sounds of a modern age from the past that will hopefully come again soon.
08 SHUMEN --- previously called Kolarowgrad and then renamed Shumen. Just as places change names, or have their names changed, this track wanders from A to B. Romantic rapture in Bulgaria -- and it was also once the Ottoman Empire...here it sounds somewhat sad across to Transoiovnizwxys.
09 FREISTRITZ AN DER GAIL --- the track composed of sound. SHRUBBN!! builds a Wall Of Sound out of hisses, synth teeth and flashes of genius. Freistritz an der Gail. This is how we, as people, travel through our Europe and end up in the port.
11 NOO --- is simply a great track, sort of downbeat but definitely beat. Very dreamlike and beautiful.
12 NEA KORONI --- sounds a bit like the Alps and the mountains and valleys and meadows and bells.
13 + 14 --- we arrive and chill out in LEIRBOTN.
If the previous album ECHOS can be described as a profoundly intense journey through spaces and depths, reverb and shaft, EUROPA warms up like a dream landscape of earth and clay. The tracks have their own dialects; they are either coming from or traveling to someplace. There are colorations and stories told. On travels. It makes you want to listen, although you must admit you don't understand. Only something, in a way, with lightness and pleasure.