regen:tropfen review at

Posted by on Nov 5, 2010 in review | No Comments

Maike Zazie Matern currently lives in a garden apartment in Berlin. Childhood days were spent thumbing through her parents’ eclectic collection of Keith Jarrett and Miles Davis recordings. She received a thorough grounding, too, in the German children song collection ‘Das Liedmobil’. In the 90s, her serious classical piano studies drew her to Eric Satie and Chopin, but at twelve she found that miraculously, classical and pop piano, can be soul mates. That enticing marriage of evocative piano and voice that artist Tori Amos pioneered, proved to be a particularly deep inspiration. Bjork, Yann Tiersen and Peter Broderick also became part of her steady canon. Zazie’s solo project, ‘Zazie Von Einem Anderen Stern’ began in 2006.

That title means, “zazie from another star.” Her debut, ‘Regen:Tropfen’ is a hybrid which might mostly appeal to acoustic piano fans and those who appreciate experimental soundscapes. The listener will not be force-fed. This is not a, “just add water”, commercially solvent type of album. It’s clearly inspired by the sensitive artistry of Amos, but Zazie’s voice is not an overriding force> It is simply one of the elements.

She sings, and sometimes half-speaks in German and Swedish. That said, will non-English speakers feel distracted by her choice of language? Does the language or the music itself matter more? I think the fact that she has chosen to record in her native language shows that she’s committed to being fully engaged in the musical process. It makes the album unique. Translation would certainly interrupt the natural flow. Besides, Zazie remains cognitive of this: “All sound and tone, also silence…All that my ears are able to absorb, has a melody.”

The CD employs a variety of textures. In ‘Morgen’ birds twitter and Chopinesque chords sound. The lone peal of a single note; a breath, a passage, a step-wise interlude builds and it flows wistfully and bitter sweetly, reaching a breathtaking end.

‘Raum Ohne Zeit’ features the creaking of an opening door, hushed fragments of conversation, while a repetitive background piano struggles to be heard against ambient distractors. Finally, it triumphs and bright, tempestuous arpeggios end. A toddler squeals and daily sounds of universal life juxtapose the more subdued cadence points.

‘Regentropfen’ is a lovely jewelry box melody. It supports Zazie’s fragile voice; electronic sounds glisten and fade. Gurgling waves of water, discordant instrumental jabs, half-spoken utterances make up ‘Olandsvisa.’ When Zazie’s voice meets up with the instrumental line, it’s “pay dirt.”

‘Im Juli’ is probably the most modern. At the onset, a stalwart progression backs her young voice in a predictable manner. A delicate thrush of glockenspiel fades in and out. The most cinematic is ‘Klavierregen’ which, with its embracing motion, exhibits a keen love for the essence of melody.

After hearing ‘Zwischen Meinen Handen,’ I’ll admit that my mind did drift. The goal becomes a tad murky at this point. But, then, ‘Nachtschwarmen’ presents a fairy-land of distinct sounds and the halting melody is truly captivating. ‘Nacht’ is mesmerizing; the random street sounds imbue loneliness, and the crisp, steps of the “everyman” pedestrian, brings to mind urban isolation. The humorous and abbreviated finale was a great touch.

original review