Merzouga – Mekong Morning Glory (CD Gruenrekorder)

Enter the pathless land. Get lost……. With this message in mind a journey along one of the world’s major rivers, the Mekong, starts. Two adventurous minds from Germany, Eva Pöpplein and Janko Hanushevsky  travelled the river downstream back in 2008. A warning comes along with the extensive liner notes; this is not a documentary. And thank god it isn’t. What is offered on the disk is a beautifully processed field recording, in which nature’s very diverse and intense sounds are treated and blended with instruments, electronics and bass guitar. The piece starts calmly and sinisterly, mixing recordings from nature with added electronic sounds, but nowhere does the river become a threat, only when approximately halfway (I believe we are nearing Cambodia then) a giant outburst of white noise occurs, an ear deafening experience as if all is washed away within the waterfalls. From then onwards, things become more relaxing, fluid almost. Slowly evolving drones mixed with sounds from the riverbanks, birds singing, children shouting, all give it an earthy and unearthly feel at the same time. This part reminded me somehow of the great Heinekens Jamaica trip by Charlemagne Palestine, an overwhelming feeling of calm and ease, creating the feeling that the exhausting journey is coming to an end.  

Can you document as many as possible impressions from a landscape that stretches over nearly 4400 kilometers and some 7 different countries? I guess this is the wrong question to ask, meaning that this probably isn’t what was aimed for at all. The impressive 49 minute-piece is however able to capture both the beauty, the calmness and the greatness and also how the river sometimes shows its unforgiving character followed by moments of perfect stillness, with further beauty waiting to become unveiled, but stripped in its essence the grand finale turns out to be nothing more than a desire to finally drain into the south Chinese sea, leaving countless impressions for those who want to hear. An epic work of art. PvdG