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Paul Hindemith
Wir Bauen Eine Stadt
played by Holger Hiller & Thomas Fehlmann
(Gagarin) LP

 In 1930, in the waning years of the Weimar Republic, Paul Hindemith wrote a short cycle of songs for children. Titled “We Are Building a Town,” Hindemith’s piece combines modernist tunes with fanciful lyrics about, yes, municipal construction. Hindemith’s town is an odd place, filled with bakers, locksmiths, washerwomen, dairymen bearing maggot-ridden cheese, chalk-consuming children, and puppy-poodle dogs. In 1982, Holger Hiller and Thomas Fehlman of Palais Schaumberg fame offered a new interpretation of the text, replacing the original instruments with synthesizers and singing the children’s parts themselves. Released in a limited, cassette-only edition on Ata-tak, their otherwise faithful reworking of the Hindemith original became something of a minor legend. Now, for the first time, it has been released on vinyl on Felix Kubin’s Gagarin label, and, even at a scant 12 minutes long, it more than lives up to its large reputation. It’s a wonderfully strange record, mixing playfully choppy, vaguely Weil-esque synth-lines with oh-so odd, childlike singing. It’s sung in German, of course, but but there is a helpful translation of the libretto along with entertaining liner notes. Great stuff! For fans of futuristic tunes and Felix Kubin and lovers of all things weird and German.

 

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