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C H A N D E E N
E C H O E S
album review and artist reflections
More Chandeen at Musical Discoveries
Bikes and Pyramids
Spacerider-Love at First Sight
review, interview and HTML © Russell W. Elliot 2003
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Last updated: 24 May 2003
Just one year after the band's last album Bikes and Pyramids (review) and the latest in line-up changes, Harald Löwy and Antje Schulz--Chandeen--have returned to their heavenly voices roots with a new album entitled Echoes (Kalinkaland Records (Germany) EFACD06679, 2003; also released on Project Records (USA) KAL00005, 2003).
We caught up with Harald and Antje on release day to discuss changes in the band and the development of the Echoes sound. Read the results of our interview which follows below our review of the band's new album. Be sure to follow the links to the band's website where soundbites, further photos and other features can be found. You'll also find links to reviews of the band's former work listed above.
Our editorial staff have been following Chandeen since the early days and witnessed the first major lineup change when original second vocalist Catrin Mallon and instrumentalist Oliver Henkel left Harald Löwy and Antje Schulz after the Jutland album had been completed. Mallon and Henkel remained together and as Edera released a darkwave styled heavenly vocals album entitled Ambigous (1996) which met with modest success, but nothing like what Chandeen enjoyed previously or since. Stephanie Harich assumed the second vocalist slot alongside Harald and Antje for The Waking Dream (1996), the more radically pop-styled Spacerider-Love at First Sight (1998) and the heavily produced album Bikes and Pyramids (2002). Stephanie departed after Bikes and Pyramids leaving Chandeen as just Harald and Antje which is where it all began just about ten years ago.
When we first heard Echoes, we were initially surprised to learn of Stephanie's depature. When asked if the sound of the new album is a result of Stephanie's depature, Harald told us, "Yes, maybe yes, the influence changed. Antje and I worked together since the beginning of Chandeen and we both formed the style over many years." He continued, "Antje said she felt a strong desire to work more authentic, more in our roots." When we experessed our delight that Antje is staying, Harald remarked emphatically (and we couldn't agree more), "Well, Antje is Chandeen!"
And indeed Echoes illustrates Chandeen's sound in the very best light. The arrangements are light and ambient and Antje's vocals shimmer and soar across nine of the CD's ten evocatively moody tracks. The album is not a rock or pop album nor is it new age or exactly darkwave. The material is ambient, smooth, graceful and most of all, it is a tremendous exposition of heavenly vocals as the genre was meant to be. You'll hear Antje Schulz in her finest studio performance to date. Light guitar, cello and keyboard provide the instrumental foundation but vocals are mixed way above the instrumentals right where visitors to this website love them. Cello and string sequence adds further texture to the keyboard-based arrangements. Read more about the pieces in the interview with Harald and Antje below.
For Echoes, Antje and Harald have been joined by Christine Fischer (cello), Antje Buchheiser (vocals on "Echoes") and Floran Walther (guitars). All but the opening and closing pieces are sung by Antje. The remaining bookends are instrumentals, although the opening "Indian Summer" exploits Antje's tenderly sung vocalise atop natural effects. Lyrics for several of the tracks were taken from classical texts. "A Dream Within A Dream" is by Edgar Allan Poe; "In The Forest" and "Impressions" are by Oscar Wilde and "A Dream" is by William Blake. Lyrics for the remaining four tracks "Echoes," "Drawn By The Sea," and "Call Of The "Banshees" were written by Antje. The final vocal, "Red Blood Blue Soul" was written in 1992 by Aline.
Listen carefully to Antje sing on Echoes. Her vocal work is tender, sensual sweet and evocative. Mixed perfectly both as lead and in backing harmonies, the sweet sound soars above the classically influenced instrumental arrangements, supported by keyboard-provided strings, piano and Christine's moody cello. A fine album and one worth significant and immediate exploration, we certainly think that Echoes is a must listen!
Please tell us about the changes in Chandeen since Bikes and Pyramids.
Harald: A short time after Bikes and Pyramids I felt a big desire, to reflect my emotional side in a new way, to begin a journey into the depth of our musical roots. And in the end Echoes is a very intense album, inspired by the sprit of nature focussed to the native live, the love to the natural sounds like birds, wood or crickets by night, the sounds of a forest or a rain.
And yes, Echoes is a reflection. A man looks into the mirror and see his life, the past, the present, the future. It is an autobiographic album, an echo of our feelings--the trace of time. Well, we wanted to go back to the singer/songwriter level and give the lyrics more important.
If I go back and reflect some tracks from Bikes and Pyramids I think some of this songs were "over-worked." We’ve worked a long time and the basic song idea disappeared from second to second, from sound to sound. Maybe this was the reason that some tracks lost their soul.
You mean the music sort of lost its emotion?
I felt after Bikes and Pyramids: we have to go out, go back to our soul, our emotional side. I realise that I could not go on working in that style. Well, it is the emotional side that revive my music. And there are a lot of songs on Echoes which I really be satisfied. We were honest to ourselves, and honest to our source. I think this is important, this gives our work depth and meaning. And Echoes is an emotional album, full of honestly feelings.
Antje: We shrank into a duo--and went back musically to find our roots.
When and why did Stephanie Harich leave the group?
Harald: In fact it was no real abrupt surprise for us, that Stephanie has left Chandeen. After the production of the album Spacerider Love At First Sight, she slowly started removing herself from the writing and recording process. Even on Bikes and Pyramids she did not return with her former dedication.
We hear a lot of the original Chandeen sound in Echoes. Was this intentional or did it result from the line-up changes?
Antje: I don’t think it has anything to do with the line-up changes. When Harald did a remix for the American heavenly voices band Hungry Lucy (review) in the late summer of 2002, their musicstyle inspired him a lot. He told me about his idea to create another Chandeen album and gave me some pure piano and guitar arrangements and recommeded few poems to me. Some of them we applied and others were just inspirations for me to write my own lyrics. It all came out very naturally.
So how would you describe the sound of the material on Echoes?
Harald: Echoes describes authentically and truth, almost the whole instrumentation was played with original instruments like cello or piano. Everything was minimalistic and we took each song from the first idea--sometimes there were no changes. The poems were inspiration, too. Oscar Wilde’s "In The Forest" describes a longing, poetry with a natural feeling. Same as "Drawn By The Sea" or "A Dream Within A Dream," these songs are reflections of the feeling we had during the composing.
Antje: pure, melancholic, soft, mysterious, romantic, nostalgic--"Chandeen typical"--orchestral, some kind of weepy. But always in a way of beauty.
What led you to use classical texts for the lyrics?
Harald: Every Song is a Hommage. Oscar Wilde is a big influence for me. Sometimes Wilde's poems are so charming, poetic and so close to my feelings that I sometimes think: 'Well, this is the realisation I search for, it is exactly what I feel, these words are mine.' It was great to work with such beautiful poems, to give the words music.
How was the project developed?
Antje: The whole recording process started quickly because after a few weeks we got all the music, lyrics and melodies together. The accoustic intruments (guitars and cello) were added next and also the recording of the vocals lasted for only a few evenings. It worked out very well, very naturally. The whole production took not so much time at all, because we knew where we wanted to go and the sounds this time was more 'pure and simple,' not as 'designed' as our latest album Bikes and Pyramids.
There has been a buzz about a best-of compilation. What's going on with that project?
Antje: Well, we started to re-record some old songs for this "Best Of Compilation." but then the idea for Echoes became more and more concrete. So this album was put off the release of a compilation, but it is still in a plannig process in the back of our minds.
Tell us about the guest artists and their contributions.
Harald: Christian Fischer played the cello and we have some guest vocals from Antje Buchheiser. Both artists are from the german Band Stoa. Antje is my girl-friend. It was a pleasure to work with her again. Florian is our third band member. We worked together for years, so I wouldn’t say that he's a guest musician. Even we composed two songs from Echoes together: "A Dream Within A Dream" and "Drawn By The Sea."
How were the vocal arrangements developed and how was the recording done?
Antje: Some of the melodies were composed by Harald, some by myself. How can I describe them? It’s already in your head, the moment you hear the music-arrangements. You only have to bring it out, hold it on tape or hard disc before it will dissaper. That’s all. After that, sleep on it a night or two, then hear your first recordings. And work them out, together.
Do the group plan to perform on stage to promote the album?
Antje: For this year there are two festival-performances planned, only in Germany. We will not come so far outside of our country because of Harald's fear of flying!
What about some video footage? Do you plan to make a DVD anytime in the near future?
Antje: I don’t think so. But I was lucky to take part of the La floa maldita DVD production for "Salut Jaques."
And what are your plans for 2003-2004?
Harald: Maybe a new album, maybe a live tour--but be sure, you will hear more from us.
How has the internet influenced things for you during 2002 and 2003 so far?
Antje: Harald and I communicate most of the time via e-mail. And we have online with our homepage www.chandeen.com since 1996. So feel free to visit and tell us how you like it!
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