Big Thanks to AFRICAN PAPER:
German online music magazine African Paper posted a great review of Zeena's 'Bring Me the Head of F.W. Murnau". Scroll below for the English translation of the original German language review.
Digital downloads of the album are at Zeena Schreck Bandcamp.
Perhaps one has to be well-travelled to realize that they're one of those people who don't settle for the illusion of home - I'm talking about an illusion here insofar as the ideas you have about your own life, that are always illusory in a certain way - you can or want to let those illusions in. The famous silent film director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau wrote to his mother from Tahiti, where he was shooting his last film Tabu, that he only felt homesick to a limited extent, because no country, no house, no person's companionship could really give him any sense of home. He became particularly aware of this on the island at the other end of the world, which he felt bewitched by.
The compact but intense sound collage-like album, which Zeena Schreck - formerly of Radio Werewolf - composed about a fictional post-biographical episode surrounding Murnau, with accompanying videos by a certain Tnopud Salocin, begins with an excerpt of this letter, appropriately framed by the sounds of tropical tides and delivered in a slowed down, androgynous voice. The haunting tale that forms the backdrop to the music is about the abduction of the director's head from the cemetery in Stahnsdorf near Berlin - something that some may think is an urban legend but that actually happened a good ten years ago, and so the master's homelessness outlasts his physical life.
A feature of the album is the constant blending of the director's life and work. “Ill Omens”, whose melange of alienated, perhaps sampled instruments is reminiscent of a slightly sepia-toned grey, could be a congenial score for the bizarre skull robbery, and yet the tension, the coarse-grained and flickering humming and hissing, after which only the death bell remains, is reminiscent of many a film scene from Murnau's oeuvre. "A Drive up the Coast" is like a peaceful little miniature [fairground]: organ and waltz rhythm evoke a carnival atmosphere, and when you hear the sound of rain and the honking of a vintage car toward the end, you might even think of California, where Zeena herself spent her early years.
While the first three tracks have an effect of a soft introduction, the rest of the compositions get more to the point. With ritualistic percussion by drummer Hisham A. Bharoocha, hand drums and rattles, odd reverbs and orchestral quotes, "Tabu," which contains lyrics from the film of the same name, is a furious celebration of the dark side of the exotic, and contains in Zeena's recitation the warning to respect the eponymous taboo. In “The Phantom Bridge”, which draws from a pivotal scene from Murnau's best-known film Nosferatu, the voice sweeps like murmurs through a room, flanked by dusty bright bells. In a whisper, the voice tells of unknown places and things, but also of life leaving the body, while water ripples in the background. For anyone familiar with Zeena's background in Vajrayana Tantric Buddhism, entirely different dimensions might open up here, in the vampire's quotes.
In the final track, “Endlich Daheim”, which opens with the rattling of an old film projector, and whose lyrics are by Zeena herself, the whole spooky story about the open grave is revealed, in which the director seems to have actually found his home, decades after his physical death.
“Bring Me The Head Of F.W. Murnau” is a beautiful, concise piece of music that wraps the aura of old, fantastic film scores in a delightfully experimental guise, and at the same time doesn't seem implausible for a second. All this and the appreciation of the master is in no way disturbed by the fact that the signature of the musician herself is always present and sometimes becomes explicit through small and not so small hints. The already mentioned echo of a faded fairground somewhere in Karloffornia and the reference to tantra could also be purely coincidental and a projection of the reviewer. Less so, however, is the title which refers to an early Radio Werewolf release (and indirectly to another classic film, Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) - but at that time it was about the head of an unpleasant journalist.
When past and present, life and afterlife, one's own and the other's are intertwined in this way, it becomes clear once more how illusionary the perceptions of time, space and what one takes for the self are in the end. The fact that you can still feel Zeena and the world of Murnau throughout is not a contradiction in terms. -admin/African Paper
[Original German Version HERE.]
[posted by t.m.]
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