The Sound of Music


produced by David Lowrey

Flying Fish, 1993; FF 70646

A review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

by Harperess

The Musicians: David Lowery; Justin Hoffman, Thomas Meinecke, Michaela Melion, Carl Oesterhelt, Wilfried Petzi; with guests on some cuts.

I hope it's only a myth that good parody is the death-knell of any music genre. In "The Sound of Music," FSK again offers more than an hour of entertaining parody, satire, humor, hilarity, even a little profundity if you understand the German language.

Traditional German music is found alive and well as often in nostalgic German-American enclaves like German Village in Columbus, Ohio as in the beerhalls of the Fatherland. For fifteen years, FSK has been to German music in America what Spike Jones is to Tin Pan Alley standards, what Peter Schickele is to the classics, and what the Berrymans are to contemporary folk song. Americans' confusion over what cities are located on the Rhein, how it copes when a German band is asked to play a Cajun tune, the Stomach Steinway as cultural artifact, Rheinbank romance all come in for their share of ribbing. FSK's musical commentary isn't confined to parody, though. Just when you think you know what to expect from this inventive group, they throw in a cut like "Flagge Vebrennen (Flag Burning)" with driving rock rhythm, lyrics to challenge complacency, and clangorous techno-instrumentation. But FSK never lets you forget it's an electric German band, even when it tackles Appalachian, blues, or Hawaiian.

When I found out FSK has played several times at German Clubs here in Columbus, I invited some denizens of German Village to listen to this album. They all dubbed it good fun despite Fritz's distress at the "overdriven speakers" whenever the electric guitars fuzzed. Its polka and waltz rhythms are definitely danceable; the kind of band they'd hire for a family night at the club so the kids (anybody under 40) would have some of "their music" too.

If you like traditional German music, but have an open mind; if your funny bone needs tickling--especially if you understand the German language, you'll enjoy FSK: The Sound of Music.

Technical note: Despite the clear, well-defined tracks, levels on this recording being on the light side (considerably less than 10) could cost radio play at stations that require standard levels. For best sound, individual listeners should expect to set volume and balance controls by hand after the CD starts.

This review is copyrighted, 1995 by Three Rivers Folklife Society.
It may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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