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The Berlin-based electronic duo (Ronald Lippok and Bernd Jestram) has existed since 1995. So far, they have released ten regular studio albums, collaborated with various artists (including Piano Magic, Tuxedo Moon, B. Fleischmann) and produced music for numerous films and theater pieces. Lippok has also played in the band To Rococo Rot since 1995. File under: Indietronics, Neo-Krautrock


“Inside The Ships” is the latest and the eleventh studio album by Bernd Jestram and Ronald Lippok. On board are eleven songs that reflect the different facets of the Tarwater sound cosmos: Dense soundscapes created by skillfully interweaving electronic and analogue sounds. When the duo began working on the new album over two years ago, they initially intended to create a Space Opera. That was not to be, but the resulting visions of the future, fictional knowledge and the distant and unknown served as the inspiration for these songs. Yet despite titles like “Inside the Ships”, “Radio War” or “Do the Oz”, this is not a concept album.

Tarwater have always befuddled the fanatics of stringent categorization among pop analysts. The synesthesia produced upon hearing the new album – seeing alien worlds by means of acoustic stimuli – is deftly created by Jestram and Lippok in their own special way. They have dispensed with coldness and overtly technoid sounds. Science-fiction folklore remains sidelined. The “otherness” is produced, for example, through the use of brass (tuba, saxophone, horn, trumpet and trombone) and other instruments that are otherwise used far from the pop-context – such as the cimbalom. You really have to listen twice to distinguish the individual instruments. Even with these unusual elements, Tarwater\’s sound cosmos remains an organic whole and is immediately captivating on first listen. Tarwater\’s aesthetic defies categorization. While in the past the German press worked with the deliberately vague term “indietronics”, their English counterparts like to associate the duo with a tradition directly linked to Krautrock.

“Sato Sato” marks the first time that German lyrics appear on a Tarwater album. The text is taken from a track by Deutsch-Amerikanischen Freundschaft (DAF) on their 1981 album “Alles ist gut”. However, it\’s not really a cover: The phonetics of the lyrics serve primarily as another instrument with which Tarwater forms the song. Only the text is used, embedded within a new composition. This also applies for “Do the Oz” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The piece was originally released in 1971 as the B-side of the single “God Save Us” and was a display of solidarity for the underground culture magazine Oz, which was threatened with censorship at the time.

Tarwater act as an interface to various artistic movements. While Jestram and Lippok\’s work includes composing and performing music for film and theater, “Inside the Ships” served as the model for the short film “The Eagle is Gone” by Mario Mentrup and Volker Sattel. The film is set at night, in Berlin, at Alexanderplatz. The unique black and white aesthetic blurs the boundaries between the late Expressionism of the 20s, the cool charm of the 80s, and the present. The whole thing is supported by Tarwater\’s songs, which were not written for the images, but rather provided the inspiration for the visuals, and thus actually generated the images. In this respect, “Inside The Ships” becomes a form of dialogical introspection.

This shows that the originally envisaged Space Opera refers not only to the future, but playfully blurs the flow of time and temporal relationships ad absurdum. And with Detlef Pegelow as a guest musician, the circle to the previous work is closed: The current Klezmer musician also performed as a guest in Tarwater\’s predecessor formation Ornament & Verbrechen (1980-1983).
“Inside the Ships” also works as a metaphor for the “inside”, whether within a ship or construed metaphysically. The song “Palace at 5 AM” is based on a poem by Charles Baudelaire that paraphrases the images and emotions induced by the Rausch of intoxication. This, too, fits into the concept: In the Middle Ages Rausch (or ru?sch in Middle High German) meant an “impetuous journey”. Setting off with Tarwater means discovering something new and intensifying the familiar. In any case, it remains an enduring pleasure.



Bureau B(2014)
Inside The Ships
Bureau B(2011)
Spider Smile
Morr Music(2007)
The Needle Was Travelling
Morr Music(2005)