Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld: The Blackest European Gold

Teho Teardo and Blixa Bargeld are two of Europe's finest musicians, and one of the best examples of a fruitful and cultivated collaboration in that hugely unexplored field where film music, avant-garde, pop, dark ambient, classical music, and chamber rock meet. Despite their individual collaborations with many American peers, from L.A.’s The Gun Club to No Wave’s muse Lydia Lunch, they haven’t received the recognition they deserve on this side of the pond.

German-born Blixa - leader of experimental combo Einsturzende Neubauten and long-time guitarist and backing vocalist in Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (1983-2003) - first met Italian-born multi-award winning composer and sound designer Teho Teardo in 2011, during the realization of a theatre pièce called Ingiuria, and immediately started collaborating on a song, A Quiet Life, for a soundtrack of Claudio Cupellini’s movie of the same name. The song was later included in their first 13-track, hour-long album Still Smiling (2013), released on Teho's Specula label, an exciting mix of songs and experimental pièces with visionary lyrics, sung in English, Italian and German, laid over a complex texture of guitars, classical instruments and electronics.

Nerissimo (The Blackest) is the title of their new album, released in April 2016. The cover artwork was inspired from a painting, The Ambassadors, by Hans Holbein The Younger. It’s a life-sized panel that portrays Jean de Dinteville, an ambassador of Francis I of France in 1533, and Georges de Selve, Bishop of Lavaur, who visited London the same year. The painting incorporates symbols and paradoxes, and it delivers enigmatic references to learning, religion, mortality, and illusion that could be connected to the contents of Nerissimo. The record itself - on which woodwind instruments, particularly the bass clarinet, have in part taken over the cello-led explorations of the first LP - is also “a nocturnal transfer, a diary of apparitions, it’s about colours that could transform the whole universe once you name them” and mostly about black, a non-color that leads through, and frees from the darkness of the world, to break through the other (bright) side.    

As in the first record they covered a song of the British forefathers of “Brechtian Punk Cabaret”, The Tiger Lillies, the beautiful Alone with the Moon, in Nerissimo one can find a breathtaking cover of The Empty Boat by Brazilian songwriter Caetano Veloso, a resplendent gem among many other precious objects on the arguably best record of 2016 so far.