MARDI GRAS.BB - Von Humboldt Picnic

Mardi - Von Humboldt Picnic

12 songs
43:14 minutes
***** ****


Far away from any current trends, Mardi are nonetheless one of Germany’s most active bands, or should I say: big bands? Releasing busily albums since 1999, Von Humboldt Picnic is already the ninth offering by this nine-piece centred around singer/guitarist Doc Wenz and former Guru Guru member Uli Krug. Most of the musicians play wind instruments, only the electric guitar offers a rock touch.

While their seventh record The Exile Itch turned me into a fan of this exceptional band, the follow-up My Private Hadron couldn’t quite match the same effervescence. Von Humboldt Picnic also left me reluctant at first, but I soon understood that this an album that takes its time to unravel its manifold charms. Conceptually Mardi are inspired by German seventeenth century explorer Alexander von Humboldt, and just like this great man, the brass band is taking us on a journey all over the world, always maintaining their signature sound, but smartly adding different styles to the songs, depending what topic they treat. French chanson (Blvd de Clichy), Islamic folk (Benim Ismin Mahmut Altunay), Russian traditionals (Irina Smiles), Chinese rhythms (Monk Punk), Mariachi fervour (Americanos) and even German pop from the time in between world wars (Lotterie des Lebens), there’s hardly a genre that’s left out on Von Humboldt Picnic. The brass sound guarantees a common thread, even though this CD is less homogenous, but possibly more fun, than anything they did before.

Von Humboldt Picnic is world music at its best, proving that even Germans renowned for their rigidity can come up with uplifting, swinging music that always again manages to gets a smile on my face. Mardi have definitely found their own sound, and should be checked out by every curious music lover!

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