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heliumvola wohin
Artist: Helium Vola
Title: Wohin?
Genre: Avant-Garde, Medieval
Release Date: 22nd February 2013
Label: Chrom

Album Review

‘Wohin?’ (Where?) – that’s the question being asked by HELIUM VOLA with their newest album, being released last month. It took four years for Ernst Horn and Sabine Lutzenberger to present a new, dreamy album to their fans. The avant-garde electronic project HELIUM VOLA was founded back in 2001 by Ernst Horn after leaving his former project QNTAL. But for him, HELIUM VOLA is not just a successor to QNTAL. The name HELIUM VOLA is Latin and means as much as “Helium, fly!” All releases of the duo so far can be understood as concept albums and deal with very different topics, i.e. with the sinking of the nuclear submarine Kursk on the album ‘Helium Vola’. With their electronic music, HELIUM VOLA interprets medieval texts in Old and Middle High German, Latin or French language. The debut album ‘Helium Vola’ was released 2001, followed by ‘Liod’. Afterwards, the band released two double albums, ‘Für Euch die ihr liebt’ in 2009 and the current ‘Wohin?’. On this album, besides Sabine Lutzenberger, the three soloists Gerlinde Sämann, Andreas Hirtreiter and Joel Frederiksen are involved, having success on opera stages, as concert soloists but also in ensembles such as Hilliard, Hesperion or Huelgas. Besides those three, two new artists are involved on the album: Priska Eser, Soprano, concert soloist and member of the Bavarian radio orchestra, and Hannah Wagner as upcoming emerging singer and composer.

The story of ‘Wohin?’ starts with “Quodlibet” and the initial idea of releasing a collection of songs. But the album became much more than this. Ernst Horn, working for many years as musician and composer now, asks the question “Where?”. Just like on all their previous albums, also on ‘Wohin?’ HELIUM VOLA move between dreamy tunes and catching dance music. The first song of the album is a deep ballad. ‘Nubibis Atris’ reminds of a flight over a fog-shrouded forest. Faint birds’ twittering subconsciously reaches your ear. Following ‘Uf der Linden’ is a duet between lovers. A high female and a deep male voice are combined in perfect harmony. With the third song, the album builds up some speed. ‘A Virgen Santa Maria’ starts very electronically, even disconcerting. But soon after the beginning, the song moves over to a sacred atmosphere with multi-vocal male and female chant. ‘Witwenklage’ (plaint of a widow) mourns about the loss of a beloved one. At the beginning very minimalist, soon a deeply sad, brittle bed of melodies evolves.

The tunes to ware were less suitable for rhythmic movements of a dance floor. But ‘Tanderadan’ definitely is. The album stays danceable, but even goes a step further with ‘Fama Tuba 2’, which is the hypnotic sound of a reign around a nocturnal fire. After the excitement of the two last songs, we move to calmer shores with ‘E Raynauz, Amis’, reminding of elves with harps in the moonlight. ‘Ich will den Sumer grüzen’ is a worthy follower of ‘In Lichter Farbe steht der Wald‘. A penetrating knocking draws through ‘Die Andere’ in the back. You have it in your ear during the whole song while various harmonies alternate. The final of the first album party is made by the partly disturbing composition of ‘Napuctun Speaks’, beginning as choral which all of a sudden breaks and continues the song as alienated sound snarl. With, whispering in the back, excited shouting, deep chorales and cutting electronic sounds, the listeners attention will never drop.

The second CD starts with a heroic saga. ‘The Unquiet Grave’ reminds of epic warrior movies. With playful chant and modern electronic rhythms, ‘Heja, wie sie sang’ moves onwards whereas ‘Amor M’Posto’ stops immediately any play. Dark and doomy sounds give an insight into a secret world. Following ‘Rose am Dorn’ is a song of love, sounding as if a left one cries for her beloved one. ‘Excalibur’ is a big word in history since it is the name of King Arthur’s sword. The male chant reminds indeed of big kings, the electronic compositions sound like the handwriting of DEINE LAKAIEN, whereof Horn is band member. ‘Dirich’ is introduced by the whispering words of a woman, a single bowed instrument accompanies her. Soon, a second one joins in and the whispers turn into careful chant, reminding of flapping birds. ‘Panzer Hymnus’ is an ode to the wide country with soft chant and melodies. But all of a sudden, everything changes and the open land turns into a fall into the deep. Classical melodies abruptly alternate with modern sprechgesang.

The second last song of the CD once more invites for dreaming… and mourning. ‘Diu werlt was gelf’ is deep emotion being presented by a clear voice on a gentle bed of cautious melodies. The final of the second part is – as already done in the first part – marked by a song lasting more than ten minutes. ‘Aquil Altera’ leads you to heights and depths. It is a brittle but extensive closer of the album, which btw is sold for the common normal price for a CD, even though it comes as elaborate digi pack with a lively designed booklet, containing the lyrics in original language, in German and in English. With ‘Wohin?’, HELIUM VOLA created another varied and entertaining work. The partly very different melodies deliver the musical underlining for any possible mood. With any listening, you’ll find new edgy sound gadgets. Song Recommendations: ‘Nubibus Atris’, ‘Tanderadan’, ‘Fama Tuba2’, ‘Ich Will Den Sumer Gruezen‘, ‘Die Andre‘, ‘The Unquiet Grave’ and ‘Excalibur’.


CD 1
01. Nubibus Atris
02. Uf Der Linden
03. A Virgen Santa Maria
04. Witwenklage
05. Tanderadan
06. Fama Tuba2
07. E Raynauz, Ami
08. Ich Will Den Sumer Gruezen
09. Die Andre
10. Napuctun Speaks

CD 2
01. The Unquiet Grave
02. Heja, Wie Sie Sang
03. Amor M'à Posto
04. Rose Am Dorn
05. Excalibur
06. Dirich
07. Panzer Hymnus
08. Diu Werlt Was Gelf
09. Aquil Altera


Ernst Horn – Instruments
Sabine Lutzenberger – Vocals

Websites /

Cover Picture

heliumvola wohin


Music: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9 / 10

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