Double Review: Mellow Melange - Handbag (2013) & Nimm mich hin. Dein Will! (2017)
The CDs on hand are the seventh and ninth (if I am not mistaken) full-length releases by Bremen's extravagant quintet Mellow Melange. Both releases feature the following artists:
Sonja Firker - vocals, violin, flauto dolce, autoharp,
Matthias Schinkopf - saxophon, flute, flauto dolce, percussions, vocals, clarinet, trumpet,
David Jehn - upright bass, mandolin, guitar, flauto dolce, harp, vocals, mandolin, banjo,
Ingo Höricht - violin, viola, guitar, vocals,
Michael Berger - piano.
Together they are Mellow Melange. The name stands for what the quintet does when playing and writing music. They are mixing, combining, merging, and pairing different styles of music, and thus they create an artistic mélange of Jazz, Pop, Folk, Chanson, and Chamber Music. And although these soundscapes serve plenty of moods, a certain mellow air is omnipresent.
Mellow Melange - Handbag: Little Stories of Little Things (2013)
This concept album contains eighteen songs and the bonus track 'Parfum', and it was released via NIL Records in 2013. The nineteen tracks contain one little tale each. Each of the songs stands for one object that can be found in an ordinary handbag. And thus, the 'Photograph', the 'Postcard from Ireland', the 'Lipstick', the 'Penny', and all the other objects in this handbag tell us their stories. "Handbag: Little Stories of ittle Things" is a compilation of tales as ordinary as beautiful, and yet so unique. But actually, it is a lot more than just that. Mellow Melange and guest musician Hilko Schomerus who played percussions on 'Button' and 'Postcard from Ireland' invite us on a fantastic journey. They let us dive into the handbag where nineteen little things introduce themselves to us. Each of them tell us their thrilling stories while the band accompanies their melancholic and fantastic narrative. Thus, "Handbag" becomes a cinematic experience in which mouthless objects are given not even a voice, but a whole chanson. Therefore, this album will not only please fans of tales, chamber music, Jazz, Folk, and Chanson, but also of Musicals. Also, if you love this sound, you should also dig into Schall und Rausch, and Peggy Luck.
Mellow Melange - Nimm mich hin. Dein Will!: Shakespeare Sonette - vertont von Mellow Melange feat. Petra Janina Schultz (Bremer Shakespeare Company)
This album's title is quite long, and it will probably need a little explanation, for the non-German speakers especially. The main title "Nimm mich hin. Dein Will!" (German: "Take me there. Your Will!") draws the first reference to whose oeuvre this concept album might be about. And so the first phrase of the subtitle proves us right that this release contains sonnets by William Shakespeare set to music by Mellow Melange (yes, in German 'sonnet' is really spelled 'Sonett'). As a special guest, Petra Janina Schultz from the Bremer Shakespeare Company joins the band as a vocalist in 'Sonett 89'.
On the back cover (picture above), you can see which sonnets the band chose for this album, so Shakespeare fans and lovers of British Literary Studies can dig deeper into the literary background of this release. Meanwhile, let us focus on the music. Folk and Chamber Music are a lot more on spot on this album, and thus the sound is much sweeter than on "Handbag". An outstanding exception is the 89th sonnet, sung by Petra Janina Schultz - a deep blue and heavy, slow Jazz song.
With this album, Mellow Melange let the golden age of British poetry be reborn in contemporary days. Romanticism meets Jazz, Folk meets Chamber Music, sophisticated music is presented with such passion it sounds so easygoing.
If I had known this album when studying Anglistics, I might have been more enthusiastic about my studies.