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Jännerwein – Eine Hoffnung

Eine Hoffnung

Eine Hoffnung

It’s no stretch to say that with age comes a different way of listening to music.  The average thirty-something can protest all they like about the second Tool album sounding just as good today as it did from the flatbed of their cousin’s pickup truck back in 2001, but that’s a matter of hearing, not listening.  I don’t care about the size of your collection or what you’re selling on Discogs; you don’t love music now as much as you did at fifteen and there’s nothing you can do about it.  In the course of life, something changes the wholly engaged, emotional way of listening of our youth into the “I just have this on for background noise,” and “this first pressing will increase in value,” of now.  I’m not suggesting that it’s impossible to enjoy music past a certain age; only that the way we enjoy it changes, and music becomes less our whole world than a part of it.

After giving Eine Hoffnung an initial play, all I could think about was finding time to hear it again.  I listened to the soaring harmonies of “Hoher Gesang” on the way to work as the bus stalled in the rain; I hummed the chorus to “Sommer” in line at the grocery store, counting down the minutes until I could get away from people and put the album on repeat.  Though my understanding of German is extremely limited, it filled me with a thousand mental images and new ideas; it somehow seemed to encapsulate the feeling of the changing seasons.  It’s the rare sort of album that’s emotionally all-encompassing, that manages to root out that fifteen-year-old music lover from the morass of mortgages, staff meetings, and the feeling that nothing is very special anymore.  Eine Hoffnung translates to “a hope,” after all.

Jännerwein

Jännerwein

In a scene rife with pallid knock-offs and a host of half-baked projects that often sound woefully similar, Eine Hoffnung is incredibly full, swelling with string arrangements and sehnsucht.  Though Jännerwein have touched on themes of time, age, and the passing of youth on previous releases, it’s not just the lyrics but the melodies themselves that evoke that particular sense of loss and longing.  Not every project is capable of that.  How many concept albums, for example, are concepts in title only?  From the somber accordion on “Noch ist Nicht Nacht” to the wandervogel campfire harmonies and the jugendstil cover art, the entire album harkens back to the wistful naturalism of late-19th and early 20th-century Germany and Austria.

When you listen to quite a bit of music and occasionally have to write a short opinion piece on select works, it’s easy to become jaded, flippant, or overly fixated on innovation, or any combination of those things.  That’s why it’s refreshing—if not a bit startling—to find an album like Eine Hoffnung.  I genuinely love it, in the way that I loved all those formative albums from my teenage years, without pretense or irony.  Unlike some of those albums, however, Eine Hoffnung shows a very real mastery of instrumentation, harmony, and emotion.  One of the finest albums I’ve heard this year, it has the potential to become a classic.

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Track List:

01) Noch ist Nicht Nacht
02) Hoher Gesang
03) An den Mond
04) Sommer
05) Über Strömen, die Vergehn
06) In der Nacht
07) Kämpfe
08) Komm mit Mir
09) Zu den Sternen
10) In Einer Kalten Welt
11) Quell
12) Freisaal
13) Mild und Trüb

Rating: 10/10
Written by: Rebecca C. Brooks
Labels:
Steinklang Industries (Austria) / SK93 / CD
Rainberg (Austria) / RBV02 / CD
Neofolk

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