LALI PUNA (GERMANY)
Written by english on 11 septembre 2017
Listen to an interview with Valerie Trebeljahr of Lali Puna here:
About the album
Valerie Trebeljahr started Lali Puna after her first band – the all-girl-band L.B.Page – dissolved. The line-up was soon completed by Markus Acher, Christoph Brandner and Florian Zimmer. After some changes the group today consists of Trebeljahr (vocals, keyboard, computer), Christan Heiss (keyboard, computer) and Brandner (drums). Lali Puna released their debut « Tridecoder » in 1999. The reduced but yet electronic-pop-style gained first attention for the band. « Scary World Theory » was the programmatic title of the second LP released in 2001, slowly introducing Trebeljahrs growing interest in combining pop and politics. Guitars moved in and moved the sound away from the electronic simplicity of the early days. 2004 saw the release of « Faking The Books », « a maverick display of pop sensibilities applied to a world gone wrong » as Shlom Sviri wrote. Many people were met to work with. Collaborations with Dntel, Tim Simenon (Bomb the Bass) or Two Lonesome Swordsmen (Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood) made Lali Puna a well-known region in different musical landscapes. From clubbing to indie and many things in between. “I thought I was over that” from 2005 was an album full of remixes, come-togethers and (musical) friendships. « Our Inventions », released in 2010, saw the band return to their electronic pop-roots, searching for a gentle way to leave the guitars that characterized « Faking The Books ». An album about the modern world, concerning itself with the driving forces of progress and technological obsession. After the « Silver Light »-EP (2012) with a coverversion of Mort Garsons « I’ve Been Over The Rainbow » and remixes by some longtime friends – Cornelius, Baths and Odd Nosdam – Lali Puna took a long break. « Two Windows » now, Lali Punas fifth studioalbum, marks a new beginning for the band as Trebeljahr remembered her beginnings with a four-track-recorder, writing songs just for herself. After being tired of solitude, Trebeljahr asked long-time friends like Dntel and Radioactive Man and new friends like MimiCof and the harpist Mary Lattimore to join her. In the end it was a long way to go and Trebeljahr and Lali Puna-member Christian Heiß worked almost two years in the basement of the Postmanteau Studio on the record. Eventually « Two Windows » saw another long-time companion: The album was mixed by Mario Thaler/Uphon Studio, who already produced « Scary World Theory » and « Faking The Books ».
The world has changed rapidly since Lali Puna released Our Inventions in 2010, a fact that is also reflected in the band’s fifth album, Two Windows. Written and produced over almost two years, these twelve new songs meet those changes head-on both musically and lyrically. Songwriter and singer Valerie Trebeljahr and long-time band members Christian »Taison« Heiß and Christoph Brandner – Two Windows is the first album recorded after Markus Acher’s departure from the band– opted for a more dancefloor-friendly sound while not neglecting the pop sentiments rooted in Lali Puna’s sound. Taking its cues from a brand of music spearheaded by the likes of Caribou, Ada or even Mount Kimbie, Two Windows sounds lush and focused, balancing the emotional qualities of Trebeljahr’s songwriting with energetic rhythms.
A tour in South Korea rekindled Trebeljahr’s urge to make music after she had focused her career as a journalist as well as on her family. While she was mostly working on new material with Heiß, Trebeljahr also sought out collaborations. Keith Tenniswood (Two Lone Swordsmen) contributed as Radioactive Man. Dntel aka Jimmy Tamborello, another old friend of the band, is featured as well as harpist / Ghostly International alumna Mary Lattimore and experimental artist Midori Hirano (here under her MimiCof moniker).
While Two Windows is thus partly a collaborative effort, it is first and foremost an album about emancipation and a new beginning for Lali Puna. Opening with the lines »You got two windows and a pillow / So what do you want?«, the album sets out to answer that question while exploring topics including personal freedom, the presence of surveillance technologies in our lives and the progressive gentrification of urban centers. Two Windows is not an explicitly political album however. In fact, much like a window, Trebeljahr’s lyrics always allow their listeners to look at things from two sides. While they emphasize problems, they also empathize with those who have to put up with them. Trebeljahr has not come to preach, but wants to forge emotional connections.
Musically speaking, the lyrical subtleties are reflected in a well-defined sound that likes to shake things up as well. Genderflipping an old Kings Of Leon tune to present a great piece of music in an entirely different context? You possibly wouldn’t expect that on a Lali Puna record, but as Trebeljahr sings herself in »Wonderland«: »Cause all things will change / Cause all things must change«. Two Windows presents the Lali Puna sound in a different light than before. But how couldn’t it, if the world around us has changed so drastically? And while some of its songs may pick up problematic topics, Two Windows’ final words must be taken at face value: »Carry your head up high!« This is an album about, and an act of, emancipation after all.