»Strange Songs« is the title of a new album by Berlin-based vocal artist Ute Wassermann. But what does that mean? Who determines what is strange, i.e. foreign or abnormal, uncanny or eerie, and to whom does it apply anyway? The subtitle of the record released via TREADER makes the concept clearer by complicating it: Doesn’t »For Voice and Bird Calls« automatically imply that in the relationship between human performer and non-human being, both are equally »strange« through the eyes—or rather ears—of the other? That the differences between humans and their environments can only be experienced, understood and ultimately bypassed bilaterally?
At least that's what this great album invites us to do, and Wassermann herself goes one step further: with her voXsynth series, she enters into a three-part dialogue with machines in the Morphine Raum soon. On 28 February she will be joined by Liz Kosack and Andrea Parkins, on 21 March she will duet with Raed Yassin and on 18 April she will form the trio electrovoX with Richard Scott and Thomas Lehn. There is probably a reason why the X is capitalised: After all, without crossovers the wonderfully strange wouldn’t emerge so easily from the coexistence of two voices and different positions. It marks the spot for strange encounters.
It felt strange to commemorate the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory at the end of this month. In such times, art can give strength, embrace the soul, Wassermann's colleague Mariana Sadovska said only a few days later in an interview with field notes. And indeed, art was sorely needed in the year that has passed since then. But one thing is for certain: the ears of the world have opened—belatedly, finally—to Ukrainian artists and their stories. A new dialogue, guided by the act of listening, has emerged between cultures. And as in the course of »Strange Songs,« the formerly foreign seems more and more familiar these days. This indeed gives all sides strength because it creates solidarity.
And isn't that ultimately one of the main tasks of art—to create a knowledge transfer, to initiate a learning process, to enable empathy and understanding? To seek out and facilitate conversation, making it available to outsiders? Dialogues—similar, but different ones—also notably characterise this edition of our Releases of the Month series in the short month of February. 15 new music releases and three books invite you to listen and read carefully, to recognise differences and let affect you, ultimately changing who you are.