press quotations on "zehnder kraa"
tagesspiegel, august 09
„...that all this does not result in a multi-cultural slurry is owed largely to the precision with which Zehnder explores his environment, and to the relentlessness with which he conveys his perceptions: Instead of reproducing clichés, he locates the point at which the throaty sounds of Arabic migrants becomes yodeling, the groove of a milking machine turns into a psychedelic beat, and animalistic roaring crosses over into meditative overtones...“
abendzeitung, märz 09
"...an overtone yodeler conjures up world music. A discovery... The next day, Christian Zehnder came to the Marstall – and enchanted his audience. The Swiss musician, who has made overtone singing his speciality, presents himself as a mix of star baritone, clown, Mongolian shaman, Alpine herdsman, Klaus Nomi and Phil Minton, light-heartedly blending folk music, world music, classical music and jazz. The unusual vibrations of his vocal chords are interspersed with yodeling, burping, cooing and cawing, and develop such staggering charm, such wit, such virtuosity, that he had his audience stamping with enthusiasm by the time the show ended...“
time out england, august 09
„...Take Christian Zehnder, who's developed his own freestyle vocalise, incorporating elements of jazz and contemporary music. Unclassifiable stuff, but his vocal range makes him one of the world's most amazing performer...“
jazz thing, september 08
„Zehnder – folk music without location. The jagged mountainscapes of the Alps have given life to many an unusual vocal genius. After all, oral communication from mountain to mountain could ensure one's survival in the pre-virtual age. One of the acts that confidently carried on this heritage was the Swiss duo Stimmhorn. Its singer Christian Zehnder has now found that, even on a slope, standing on two legs is easier than standing on one, and surprises the music world with his solo debut. However, there is little alpine exoticism to be felt there. „Kraah“ (Traumton/Indigo) is more of a compact rock album, but one that is rich in yodeling and overtones, which have been integrated into the band concept in an astoundingly organic fashion. „I still like Stimmhorn“, Zehnder confesses, „but I wanted to work with grooves and catchier harmonies for once. The audience responds to this concept much more directly.“ The music on „Kraah“ doesn't seem to belong in any specific place. Zehnder isn't looking for connections of obvious components, but rather unfolds the geography of a little world of his very own, which is so harmonious within itself that it almost seems to describe the quintessence of a tradition that has existed for millennia. „It's about setting the right signs“, is the reason Zehnder provides for his going solo, wherein he is supported by Georg Breinschmid (double bass) and Thomas Weiss (percussion), amongst others. „Alternative folk music is booming, and yet it still succumbs to the law of inertia. I spent a lot of time thinking about how things should go on and where the logical consequences of what I've been doing for years lie. And somehow, what results from that is my own blues.“
„Kraah“ is an album that is as dreamy as it is urban, but nowadays, these mostly pastoral dreams are dreamed in the cities anyway. The design of Zehnder's vocal architecture of sound is daring, because it works without a trace of sentimentality or artificial tension. One of the great vocal artists of our age is creating nothing less than a folk music of the future, free from ideology, which values the canon of traditional idioms only as an universal library.“
www.fonoforum.de, oktober 08
"Zehnder Kraah, dreaming crow. Christian Zehnder already became internationally well-known as part of the duo Stimmhorn (with Balthasar Streiff). The Swiss musician, who is based in his chosen home of Basel, has got alpine yodeling and Asian overtone singing down to a T. His current solo project „kraah“ is a sort of concept album and uses the image of the raven, the well-known indigenous, gloomy and mysterious bird. What is less known is the extraordinarily large vocal range of the raven, which is counted among the songbirds. In a trio with Georg Breinschmid and drummer Thomas Weiss as well as a few guests (string player Noldi Alder, Anton Bruhin at the jaw's harp, and the Casal quartet), Zehnder explores a breathtaking vocal range – like the raven within. Fascinating vocal art.“
„Swiss artist Christian Zehnder pits his very own form of overtone singing against all clichés, as he proves on his first solo CD „kraah“. What beings as yodeling turns into a pop song, overtone vocals and operatic arias blend seamlessly into each other, onomatopoeic sounds groove along to the double bass and dramatic throat sounds are accompanied by an angry string quartet. Zehnder's singing creates a roller-coaster of moods and conditions, he yodels, cries out with joy, whinges, chortles, screams, clicks his tongue, coos and caws.“
WDR5, Scala, Anna Bianca Krause, 2.10.2008
„Swiss musician Christian Zehnder has committed himself to the raven. With overtone vocals and brutish yodeling technique, wippkordeon, bandoneon and all sorts of guest musicians, he sets off on the trail of these black birds. The result is an eerie, but always compelling, rhythmically grounded music, that opens the spaces of the human organ as far as the unknown. A previously unheard alpine sound, which keeps connections open as far as Asia and Africa – including a jaw's harp, double-bass and a string quartet. A completely individual journey in sound. An archaic testimony, right in the middle of now. Wonderful!“
arte.tv, oktober 2008
„Exceptional vocalist Christian Zehnder chose the raven as the symbol for his new album. Because, although few people would think so, ravens are considered the pinnacle of songbird evolution by ornithologists. Ravens are associated first and foremost with a gloomy, sombre mood. Examples of this can be found in Edgar Allan Poes „The raven“, where the bird drives a desperate lover into insanity. And Germanic mythology has two ravens sitting on the shoulder of Wotan, father of the gods, who report to him the events on earth. For his solo debut „Kraah“, Christian Zehnder has chosen an equally gloomy cover photo, which shows him posing with his collar turned up in front of black feathers.
This adventurous renewer of Swiss yodeling is, however, primarily interested in the extraordinarily large vocal spectrum of ravens, which ranges from a soft nattering to low cawing. Zehnder, who specialises in overtone singing, has already ventured into new spaces of sound as part of the duo Stimmhorn, and has enriched the traditionally folkloric vocal art of Switzerland with new facets. Along with Erika Stucky and Noldi Alder, Zehnder belongs to the new generation of Swiss voice artists that director Stefan Schwietert portrays in his magnificent documentary „Heimatklänge“ (ARTE-CD-Tipps 13.11.07). They use the traditional vocal call, which requires no words or semantic meaning, as the starting basis for their improvisational singing and expressive vocal acrobatics.
For his solo project, Zehnder worked with double-bass player Georg Breinschmid and percussionist Thomas Weiss. Furthermore, the guest musicians invited for a contribution to the album production included string quartet Casal, Noldi Alder at the violin, as well as Christoph Marthaler on the recorder. Earlier, Zehnder already worked as an actor and singer for this Swiss theatre director, who is famous for his innovative production style. Unlike he did with Stimmhorn, Zehnder here enforces a curious tension between his non-verbal singing and the instruments, which are used as counterpoints. In a fascinatingly liberated manner, Zehnder's voice swings not only between word and sound, but also between traditional and contemporary interpretation. With the help of composer Fortunat Frölich, who arranged the track „Chummer“ for an extended string quartet, Zehnder's long-held wish of presenting overtone singing together with classical orchestration, has been realised.“
24 heures, aug. 08
"Le corbeau est le symbole que Christian Zehnder, vocaliste hors pair, a choisi pour son dernier album baptisé « Kraah » (« crôa » en français). On a peine à s’imaginer que les ornithologues considèrent ce membre de la famille Le corbeau évoque en effet une atmosphère lugubre, et les exemples sont légions. Dans « Le corbeau », un poème d’Edgar Allan Poe, le volatile fait perdre la raison à un homme au cœur épris d’amour et de désespoir. Dans la mythologie germanique, deux corbeaux perchés sur les épaules du dieu Odin lui rapportent ce qu’ils ont vu et entendu de par le vaste monde. En nous présentant son visage de face, le regard profond, le col noir relevé qui se détachent d’un plumage bleu nuit, Christian Zehnder s’inspire, pour la pochette de son premier album solo, de la sinistre réputation de l’oiseau. Pourtant, c’est au large spectre vocal du corbeau, qui s’étend du babillement doux au croassement caverneux, que ce novateur audacieux du jodel suisse s’intéresse. Au sein du duo Stimmhorn déjà, le spécialiste du chant diphonique avait formidablement enrichi la tradition de l’art vocal suisse en explorant de nouveaux espaces sonores. Avec Erika Stucky et Noldi Alder, Christian Zehnder fait partie de cette nouvelle génération helvétique dont le réalisateur Stefan Schwietert a dressé le portrait dans son excellent documentaire « Heimatklänge » (Sélection CD ARTE du 13 novembre 2007). Pour ces artistes, cet appel vocal qui se passe de mots et de sens constitue la base de leurs improvisations et acrobaties vocales particulièrement expressives.Pour « Kraah », Christian Zehnder a collaboré avec le contrebassiste Georg Breinschmid et le percussionniste Thomas Weiss. Il a également invité l’ensemble à cordes casalQuartett, le violon de Noldi Alder ainsi que la flûte à bec de Christoph Marthaler, metteur en scène de théâtre célèbre pour son style novateur et pour lequel Christian Zehnder a déjà joué les acteurs musiciens à plusieurs reprises. Pour son projet solo, Christian Zehnder noue une tension entre son chant non verbal et le contrepoint que constituent les instruments. Sa voix oscille avec une liberté fascinante entre le verbe et le son, les morceaux traditionnels et leur interprétation moderne. Christian Zehnder nourrissait depuis de longues années le dessein de jeter un pont entre le chant diphonique et l’orchestration classique. Grâce au concours du compositeur Fortunat Frölich, qui a réécrit le morceau « Chummer » pour quatuor à cordes et voix, son souhait a pu être enfin exaucé."
tagesanzeiger, feb. 08
Zürich, Moods. - «Kraah», he says, and sings, right off the bat, in the first number. His gestures are also those of a raven, simulating wings with his arms: Could it be that we're at an ornithology lecture? But of course not. Christian Zehnder, of Duo Stimmhorn fame, presented his first solo album „Kraah“ to an enthusiastic audience on Friday. He's a rare old bird, this Zehnder, a vocal artist who has found his own sound with his larynx, who makes full use of the resonating cavities within himself, uses overtone techniques, and also cries and yodels. At „Moods“, Zehnder, who also plays string instruments, is accompanied by a duo consisting of percussion and double-bass. The accompanying textures are delicate, transparent. And that is just the thing for his voice, which shapes the evening almost by itself. Zehnder has the concentrated gestures of an actor, the declamatory fashion of a classical singer (thankfully this is visible live in concert, for on CD it is unfortunately lost). Sometimes he is piercingly intense, a dramatician who commands the audience's attention. His insistence on perfection lets him shape every note carefully, and it is a well-considered arch that connects the pieces of the one long set he plays. „Chummer“ - sorrow – is how he announces one track. Heart-rending singing follows, the wordless lament of a man doubled over with pain. Zehnder however, who is also full of wit in other tracks, doesn't seem lost for words at all, but rather appears as a veritable storyteller. He lets the tones of language melt on his tongue, exploits their acoustics, a gourmet of clicks, hisses and other sounds. In these non-verbal sound events, you never quite lose the feeling that somehow you are being told about deep personal experiences. It is this that sets Zehnder apart from voice artists like Lauren Newton or Phil Minton, whose onomatopoeia rarely ever take on the feeling of a story; and accordingly one would hesitate to refer to Zehnder's wordless narrative art as experimental. On a purely technical level, Zehnder has command of a highly trained organ – and a highly versatile one at that. Yes, Zehnder, on this magnificent concert evening really does turn into a raven with his voice. „Kraah, kraah!“ And also into larks, sparrows, magpies and hummingbirds. For further details, you'd probably have to ask an ornithologist.“
neue zürcher zeitung, Aug. 07
„In „kraah“, Zehnder remains a gripping storyteller without words. In his face and in his singing, the Alps collapse and the Mongolian grassland opens up. Overtones whirr, yodels pass in swarms, fall into the gutter and arise as arias. The music is – largely thanks to the band – a bit more compact than it was with Stimmhorn, a bit more accessible, more groovy, and lighter. Exciting and definitely worth listening to...“