SCHNEEWEISS & ROSENROT
Lucia Cadotsch - vocals
Johanna Borchert - piano
Petter Eldh - bass
Marc Lohr - drums, electronics
Schneeweiss & Rosenrot had a great start into 2012: After taking home an award at the renowned Neuer Deutscher Jazzpreis in March, they didn’t rest on their laurels but went straight back into the studio for two months, working on what was to become their third album. According to the band, the new long-player, entitled Pool, has created an even stronger bond between them – which is hardly surprising: For the first time the four musicians actually worked together on new material, starting each and every new song from scratch like a truly collaborative effort. Their motto: Anything goes. “Writing for the new album, we wanted to not only focus on what we can do in a live situation; instead we wanted to explore all the myriad possibilities a recording studio has to offer. This, however, also meant that some of the songs actually didn’t take on their final shape until we were in the studio, which is something we hadn’t done on previous albums,” Lucia Cadotsch explains. Adds Marc Lohr: “Producing this record allowed us to get even closer, both on a musical and on a personal level.” And the resulting full-length Pool, in turn, sounds even more diverse, more playful – and more produced. In short: It sounds even more like Schneeweiss & Rosenrot.
The four band members, originally hailing from Sweden, Germany, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, first met in 2006 in Copenhagen, where they all shared apartments at some point or lived next door from each other, which ultimately led to forming Schneeweiss & Rosenrot – and guess what: the official band language was Danish at first. Six years and three albums later, all four band members are based in Berlin. It didn’t take long until vocalist and keyboard player Lucia Cadotsch (Switzerland), Johanna Borchert (Germany; piano/backing vocals), double-bass player Frans Petter Eldh (Sweden), and Marc Lohr (Luxembourg; drums, electronics) were celebrated as major new talents at various festivals. Their debut album Salt Crusted Dreams came out in 2009, followed by Pretty Frank, released in 2011.
In Jazz thing, the band’s sophomore effort was described as the kind of jazz music “that moves beyond the stereotypical and standard categories,” and indeed: stereotypes and standard genre terms aren’t enough when dealing with a band such as Schneeweiss & Rosenrot. “We all listen to all kinds of music; we’re extremely open to new things and like to bring all these different influences to the table,” Johanna Borchert and Petter Eldh are keen to point out. That’s also the reason why listening to Schneeweis & Rosenrot doesn’t mean you have “just” piano and drums and bass and vocals; instead, you’ll also discover various synthesizer sounds, electronic effects, samples, all of which help shape a more surprising, shape-shifting and stunningly multifaceted sound.
Yet, while the band’s soundscapes are all about spontaneity and discovering new musical realms, the lyrics, at least now and then, reveal somewhat darker and more pensive moods, which Lucia Cadotsch nevertheless presents with a twinkle in her eye.
One of the key inspirations for Pool’s lyrics was animal life, she explains, an obvious example being the song “Prosìte Parasite,” in which Cadotsch sings (in French) about a certain parasitic species called Cordyceps Fungus. “Take a closer look at how animals behave, and you’ll discover amazing things and some behavioral patterns that are actually quite similar to human behavior. I’m also interested in puns and personifications of certain feelings and conditions. There’s one song, for example, in which I’m addressing a feeling of paralysis, but dressed up as a certain Miss Palsy, who just showed up to have party on my face. At the end of the song, I use my weapon to kill the two uninvited guests.”
A way more commonplace situation triggered the song “We’re All Loose”; in this case, Johanna Borchert was responsible for the lyrics: “I was in Berlin, and as I got of the train on Görlitzer Bahnhof I saw so many empty-looking faces that I instantly felt really sad. Well, so I thought how can I make them smile, and then I just started to sing: ‘We’re all sad walking down the road.’ In that sense, the song is an attempt at dealing with questions such as ‘how do we choose to live’ and ‘what do we want out of life’.”
The way they manage to make room for such a wide range of mental and emotional states – and even more musical styles –, and the way they play with the unexpected, using subtle irony and ambiguity, is what ultimately makes Pool their best album yet and indeed an awe-inspiring work of art. Big words, for sure, but certainly no exaggeration: On this new album, Schneeweiss & Rosenrot sound like they have been reborn to become a whole new being. A fact that’s beautifully underlined by the cover artwork, which shows the four of them, each band member lying naked in fetal position, next to each other in translucent eggs. A bold visual statement, it says: We are a band that’s united in becoming a new creature. And the Pool we’ve tapped into is essentially our collective gene pool. After all, creating an album always feels a bit like being pregnant with a baby, Lucia Cadotsch adds. “You never know for sure how it’s going to look like until it’s finished. Of course you have a feeling, an idea, but you can only fully see and understand it when you’ve really finished it and brought it into the world.”
“Another surprise highlight was the artfully fresh-minded German jazz-cum-pop band Schneeweiss & Rosenrot, built around the understated, sidewinding vocals of Lucia Cadotsch and the alternating freewheeling and classical-informed piano work of the wonderful young Johanna Borchert.”
Josef Woodard in Jazztimes, May 28, 2010
“A multifaceted fantasy realm brimming with little surprises and huge, honest emotions. (…) smooth, playful, intense, dreamy, energetic, powerful."
Werner Griff in Jazz thing #81, October 19, 2009
“This Berlin-based quartet, comprised of musicians from all over Europe, is the future of jazz. A multi-cultural approach that truly knows no limits.”
Rebecca Hack, 3 Sat Kulturzeit, March 16, 2012