Johanna Borchert_vocals, piano, synths
Jonas Westergaard_bass, synths
NEW CD: Love Or Emptiness, enja/yellowbird, 11/2017
“Love or Emptiness” tries to answer the big questions. What has happened to our emotional landscape since the Big Bang? Why do people treat each other the way they do? It is the third solo album by the singer and pianist Johanna Borchert, her second as a songwriter, and her first with her Berlin-based quartet, with whom she has been touring for the last four years. An electrifying mixture of pop, jazz and experimental, skillfully artistic and at the same time accessible, catchy but not superficial. A concept album that would never claim to be a concept album.
When Johanna Borchert’s album “FM Biography” appeared in 2014 it garnered euphoric reactions. Jazzthetik called it a “masterpiece”; Hamburger Abendblatt stated that her “skillfully arranged songs are like ten rooms full of secrets”. The accolades culminated in 2015 when Borchert received the ECHO jazz as “best singer national”. INTRO attested Borchert “a wonderful voice, with a scope and expressive possibilities evoking the greats, such as Leslie Feist”. Repeatedly, the names Laurie Anderson and Björk were mentioned. Johanna Borchert has no problems with such comparisons: “They are my sisters! I carry them in my heart.”
Borchert builds sublime moods using distorted synthesizers, powerful drums, and her voice floating above it all, reaching almost cineastic heights in the choruses, only to immediately withdraw again.
“The only thing jazz in my music is the attitude,” says Johanna Borchert. But even if she does not set out to make a name for herself as the trained jazz pianist she is, this is a slight understatement. The jazzy joy she derives from improvisation is obvious throughout the record and the songs are connected by noise and abstract sounds. “ On stage we take any freedom we want to, says Johanna Borchert, we like to surprize each other with unexpected Solo passages or group improvisations in and around the songs.”
Johanna arranged the songs together with her quartet, as always without settling for compromises. “We live for music. That means the music comes first, then the money,” says the bandleader about the collaboration with Moritz Baumgärtner on drums and Peter Meyer on guitar, both also members of Melt Trio, as well as Jonas Westergaard on bass.
“Love or Emptiness” – these two concepts are not contradictory for Johanna Borchert. “In meditation, emptiness is the ultimate state, the absence of everything. A state that is also described as pure love. We give up our feelings, to be able to perceive even more deeply. For me, music is this profoundly satisfying meditation. Being completely present in the moment and totally inspired. ”
For Borchert, however, making music is also an “investigation of the self”. “I’m writing songs to get to know human kind better. That all people are in essence one, is a concept already investigated by the Persian mystic Rumi whom Johanna Borchert references. For Rumi, the universe is a harmonious whole in which each part is in a relationship of love with every other one. Borchert can well sympathize with such – at times overwhelming – empathy. “I have often reproached myself for being a musician, and not working for the common good. But I have moved away from this perspective, because after all, everyone has to start with themselves. It is good to make music. If you are inspired, you exude energy and share it with other people. ”
„The surprisingly dark and unsettling voice immediately captures you in the music, and in the course of the 45 minutes of the album, only the names of the greatest of the greats come to mind as comparisons. Names that stand for sophisticated female pop: Björk and the later work of Kate Bush.“ (Rolf Thomas in Jazzthing 09/10 – 2014, September 2014
[…] „If the world were fair, David Lynch would have invited Johanna Borchert to reissue his series“ Twin Peaks „To play one of her imaginative songs on the stage of his ‚Roadhouse‘.“ […] – Jazzpodium 2017
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