Songs from a dystopian utopia

by DHALGREN

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1.
Brave New World © 2018 R. Chris Dahlgren Beautiful people, all carefully blended No room for error, where nothing is mended Everything new, all perfect consumers All in good order, don’t listen to rumors Come look forward to a brave new world We’re moving forward to a brave new world Society ordered Alfa to Epsilon A whole world bordered, the savages are all but gone There's no more war, nor crime nor poverty No need for art, or books or history They say it’s all for a brave new world We’re moving forward to a brave new world Let me look into your purple eyes Youth is forever until one dies What need is there for individuality? Two grams of Soma and I’ll be free Pain is gone from a brave new world We’re moving forward to a brave new world Oh, brave new world Oh, brave new world….
2.
If I would ask you… © 2013 R. Chris Dahlgren If I would ask you to lay on the ground Nestled like spoons or mosaics of sleepers here in this meadow with stones as our pillows And stars as our blanket where crickets abound Would you think me insane? Or would you think me just, vain? If I would ask you to give up your mind to A line of flight piercing through all definitions Would our superstitions all wither the moment We saw our own faces as one who was blind? If we make it through the night When we awake in the morning we'll find Countless little blue flowers opening calyxes to the golden sun Countless little blue flowers opening calyxes to the golden sun…
3.
Hope at Dawn by Hopatcong © 2018 R. Chris Dahlgren Soon will come the sunrise Breaking through pale grey skies Bringing light to tired eyes Breaking hearts beat hope at dawn Strangers kiss where hearts are drawn Travelling west by Hopatcong
4.
Ampharool 06:06
Ampharool © 2011 R. Chris Dahlgren There is no way to prove Dinosaurs do not travel in time For the tenth part of a second The outsider’s claim amounts to Strange liking The cinema sheet stares us in the face We go from one village to the other Like a shadow in the light We travel in it day and night Lured into action by the promise Faith of the desert Color of the heaven that we are Preparing the magic skin Inside-out, out-side in… There is no way to prove Dinosaurs Do not travel in time On the ground, then as a winged being The outsider’s claim amounts to Strange feelings Perceptions New movements precise and definite Like a fairy-tail aroma Like a shadow in the night We travel in it day and night Fly from one village to the other Faith of the desert Color of the heaven that we are Ampha Rola Um-phar Olam…
5.
Roadside Picnic © 2017 R. Chris Dahlgren Why should I have a job? When a man has a job he’s a slave to another Don’t fall in the cracks like the mob Just move to one side or the other On the way to a roadside picnic On the way to a roadside Do you want a full empty? Or would you like your empty full? When we get into the zone We’d better watch out for gravity’s pull On our way to a roadside picnic On our way to a roadside Happiness for all and let no one be forgotten Blaming not the travellers for the things we have begotten Happiness for all and let no one be forgotten Blaming not the travellers A pocketful of joy Sacrificed on the alter of science And I know it’s just another ploy Of some or other unholy alliance And it’s grey every day and every night The sun hides with our compliance Let’s invite the sun to a roadside picnic Let’s invite the sun to a roadside Once, I thought I’d never sold my soul But now I’m feeling kind of funny I’m biting my lip because I know They bought us all with their money But happiness is free dear, and it’s so Even if it’s a bittersweet tasting honey Let’s eat the rest at a roadside picnic Let’s eat the rest Happiness for all and let no one be forgotten Blaming not the travellers for the things we have begotten Happiness for all and let no one be forgotten Blaming not the travellers
6.
Monday starts on Saturday © 2019 R. Chris Dahlgren A log hut stands on chicken legs by the old oak tree Angry ghosts and vampires want to get closer to me The same book’s always changing on the windowsill Last titled when I read it ‘Creative Works of the Mentally Ill’ Monday starts on Saturday, all magicians know Transformations bring with them more bureaucracy in tow Vasily the cat knows stories, at least a thousand or two But he always forgets them from beginning to halfway through A pike I just saved told me that by her own command She’d grant me any wish wanted at my most urgent demand Monday starts on Saturday, tenured wizards work for free A parrot moves from future to past- it’s the Photon we can’t see I’m sorry Mr. Korneev my duties force me to Kick your double off the divan to see if it’s really you Playing so long with dead fish in living water, it does show You’ve upped the current much too high, the facility will blow Monday starts on Saturday and I’m feeling numb We’ve only just met for hours here, our love is yet to come
7.
Without Reservation © 2019 R. Chris Dahlgren There’s a bird I’ve found on my windowsill I didn’t even see for it was so still It doesn’t dare to move for it has no will to die It can’t fly I ask myself should I even try To save the bird that cannot fly For my window is three stories high and I know if it falls below It will die I decide to wait and make a tea To let the answer come to me Give it a pause, just wait and see what happens… In a short while I make up my mind To save the bird, whatever its kind But when I get to the window I find that the bird is gone Fallen below I ask myself- am I to blame for its death with my hesitation? But if I were the bird I know that I’d try to fly, Fly without reservation Fly, fly without reservation
8.
Farming 05:38
Farming © 2015 R. Chris Dahlgren I dreamt last night that I was farming A field of green that stretched as far as I could see My bare feet moved between the stalks, not harming The myriad of small plants which sprouted from the ground When, suddenly to my surprise, I heard a sound A voice from behind asking me to turn around Turning I was greeted by a sunflower She asked me to take her into my arms and dance with her right there, So I did, and we danced… The next thing I realized we were waltzing up in the air Spinning and turning far above, without a care Slowly in time, our dance wound its way back down to the ground I looked around the sunflower had disappeared With twilight approaching the darkness was what I feared
9.
Tara´s Song 04:55
Tara’s Song © 2019 R. Chris Dahlgren So many revolutions around the sun Been on so many paths, but I’m just where I begun I’m not any further than the day that I was born Only slowing down and I’m getting more forlorn Times change, minds change, passions change Feelings change, lovers change, fashions change Days change, ways change, one thing remains Everything I think I know is but a dream A bubble floating on a stream Om Tara tutare ture soha Om Tara tutare ture soha Om Tara tutare ture soha So many revolutions around the sun The planet’s spinning fast, but I’m just where I begun I’m not any further than the day that I was born Only slowing down and I’m getting more forlorn Stars change, planets change, orbits change Mountains change, rivers change, climates change Laws change, idols change, people change Everything we think we are is but a dream A bubble floating on a stream Om Tara tutare ture soha Om Tara tutare ture soha Om Tara tutare ture soha…
10.
Fairies' Song W. Shakespeare You spotted snakes with double tongue, Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen; Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong, Come not near our fairy queen. Philomel, with melody Sing in our sweet lullaby; Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby: Never harm, Nor spell nor charm, Come our lovely lady nigh; So, goodnight, with lullaby. Weaving spiders, come not here; Hence, you long-legg'd spinners, hence! Beetles black, approach not near; Worm nor snail, do no offence. Philomel, with melody Sing in our sweet lullaby; Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby: Never harm, Nor spell nor charm, Come our lovely lady nigh; So, goodnight, with lullaby. Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby...

about

"I'm a Berliner," John F. Kennedy once chanted at the Brandenburg Gate. Of course, JFK could not have predicted on the cresting wave of the Cold War that this sentence could apply to his compatriot Chris Dahlgren even more comprehensively than to himself half a century later.

Growing up in Denver and Cincinnati, and then socializing in New York, the bassist and composer Chris Dahlgren was part of Anthony Braxton's close environment. The number of well-known jazz musicians with whom he went into the studio and performed with is so long that we don't even want to start the list here. The Big Apple was at his feet, but Dahlgren wasn't planting his roots down. He wanted to go and start again and moved from the Hudson to the Spree. In Berlin, too, he quickly became a creative scene driver, among others in the bands Johnny La Marama and Lexicon, as well as alongside Gebhard Ullmann. And then things took another turn and the passionate improviser and bassist started writing songs, singing and playing the guitar.

Under the title "Songs From A Dystopian Utopia" he’s now presenting the second album of his band Dhalgren. It is a suite about dystopias and utopias, about abysses and the unexplored corners of ourselves, and it is also an album about Berlin. The first Dhalgren CD already described the nightly capital, but Dahlgren still remained on the surface. When he talks about Corner-Späti pensively, he makes the whole fascination audible and palpable, which surrounds him as an American in Berlin. On the new album, he now opens a hatch and descends from the nocturnal outside world into the black equinox of the underworld. The new songs are full of cobwebs, rat traps and ancient boxes that you better not open. And yet they are also beguilingly beautiful. Berlin has been sung about many times, but here a picture of the subterranean worlds under Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Mitte emerges that you don't hear every day.

On "Songs From A Dystopian Utopia" Dahlgren was influenced by older science fiction books such as Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" or the novels by the Russian team of Arkady and Boris Strugatzki. "I love dystopian books," says Dahlgren. “Even the name of the band Dhalgren comes from the classic dystopian story of the same name by Samuel Delany, a masterpiece of 20th century American literature. That was the starting point. There are all the spiders and traps in the basement corners, but there is also a lot of beauty. In the end it's about the utopia of existence. I don't write happy music anyway, but in my genes there is Scandinavian melancholy. That's just my way of expressing the joy of life. "

This joy in life also consists in constantly rediscovering the power of existence. Around his 50th birthday, Dahlgren had temporary problems with his hands, could not play bass or any other instrument, and had to do other things. He had experimented with texts as a student. Instead of blowing tribulation, he started again to work with different text fragments. "I discarded certain things, combined others. It was like a huge puzzle with thousands of pieces. I was excited to see what shapes would result if I put these puzzle pieces together. When I was able to play again a little later, the lyrics were on my hook. I couldn't stop. I never made the decision to become a singer/songwriter. It had happened that way and there was no going back. I love playing bass and improvising, but the songs never let go of me. ”

Chris Dahlgren has no master plan for his albums. The songs would write themselves, he was only the recipient. He describes his new CD as a house with various bizarre characters. "They talk to each other, but sometimes they only talk to the wall in their own special way. A strange party. Sometimes you lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling, then somebody offers you a glass of absinthe. “It is as if these stories were circling around him as he gave them to the best. Dahlgren has no specific mission or message in mind, but rather the poetic encounter of text and melody, the flow and the musicality of the words. As Lester Young always had in mind the text of the respective song in his improvisations, Dahlgren helps with the formulation of his lines the experience of musical improvisation. "Art," he postulates, "requires a certain degree of naivety and life experience."

In addition, there is self and external reflection, which is why he surrounds himself on the album with some very different musicians with whom he can scream in a whisper. First there is Sidney Werner, a very young bass player from Berlin. It is not easy for the accomplisher Dahlgren to hand over the bass part, but Werner is so far from and at the same time so close to his own view of life that he can fully trust the youngster. The 23-year-old Finn/German Arne Braun is on the guitar. Dahlgren has played with a variety of world-famous guitarists, but in Braun he sees one of the most flexible and adventurous string poets of the next generation. The same applies to 27-year-old vibraphonist and percussionist Evi Fillipou, who also has experience in chamber music. In contrast, the Austrian drummer and co-producer Alfred Vogel is an old handler, for whom the permanent crossing of borders has become an elixir of life for decades. In Dhalgren, résumés and life plans of very different colors come together, which complement each other magically and are pointedly rounded off by guests such as saxophonist Hayden Chisholm and singer Almut Kühne.

For Chris Dahlgren, taking responsibility means giving up responsibility. In this respect, “Songs From A Dystopian Utopia” is ultimately more utopia than dystopia. And whoever has the courage to open the box behind all the cobwebs in the far corner of the basement will raise a treasure full of grace and hope.

credits

released May 1, 2020

Produced by Chris Dahlgren & Alfred Vogel
All music and lyrics © 2020 by R. Chris Dahlgren/GEMA, pub. Slow Commotion Music/BMI (except ‘Fairies’ Song’ lyric by W. Shakespeare)

Recorded in May 2019 at Tonschmiede Bezau by Little Konzett & Alfred Vogel, with additional tracking in Berlin, Germany and Capestrano, Italy
Mixing engineer: Hannes Bieger, Berlin
Mastering by: Calyx-Studios, Berlin
Photography by Lukas Hämmerle

Dedicated to the memory of Jeremiah Per Dahlgren (1966-2019)


Chris Dahlgren: vocals / viola da gamba / acoustic guitar
Evi Filippou: vibraphone, percussion, backing vocals
Sidney Werner: upright bass, backing vocals
Arne Braun: electric guitar, backing vocals
Alfred Vogel: drums, percussion

additional musicians:
Hayden Chisholm- alto sax on track 7
Almut Kühne- vocals on tracks 8 & 10

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Boomslang Records Bezau, Austria

Boomslang Records was founded by Alfred Vogel, drummer and festival promoter (Bezau Beatz). You will find mainly creative music here, from free improvised to complex contemporary jazz music, groovy stuff to singer/songwriters. It is all about the spirit and attitude, not genres ... ... more

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