Music never happens in a vacuum. The places where it is played inspire it, shape it and help it to develop; they are like an extra musician. And therein lies the creative stimulus which Siggi Loch provides as producer to Julian and Roman Wasserfuhr. He continually seeks out new contexts for their playing, and that opens up hitherto unimagined musical perspectives. After the Wasserfuhrs’ musical journey to meet the elite in Gothenburg in Sweden in 2009, and a thrilling session in hip and happening Brooklyn in 2017, the brothers, who come from the peaceful little village of Hückeswagen near Cologne, have now travelled to the South Coast of Ireland, and to John Fitzgerald’s Lettercollum Studio in Country Cork, a secret bolt-hole where several Irish and English rock stars have recorded albums.
They were joined there for the first time by cellist Jörg Brinkmann. Julian explains the concept of the new trio thus: “Dispensing with bass and drums gives us more scope to develop ideas, far greater harmonic freedom, and also allows us to think in long arcs. It gives the music much more buoyancy.”
But why Ireland? Let Roman explain: “The studio in the middle of nowhere and directly by the sea offered us the ideal conditions to be creative. The weather was unusually fine for the season, almost Mediterranean, and that had a way of getting us into the right mood. Ireland has always been a place that Julian and I wanted to visit. We were struck by the culture, the joy, the “craic” of the Irish. Going to the pubs there, seeing how lively, relaxed and above all how unaffected they are when they play music together left a strong impression.” To which Julian adds: “and over and above that, Irish songwriter and singer Gilbert O’Sullivan is an artist whose music we really admire.”
It goes without saying that the Wasserfuhr brothers and Jörg Brinkmann aren’t playing Irish folk music; what the title of the album does is to set a tone. Here is the typical Wasserfuhr sound with a relaxed way of playing – the Irish attitude to life shines through again and again. There are also subtle melodic and harmonic twists from Irish music, or, to be specific, direct connections such as an interpretation of the O’Sullivan hit “Clair”, plus “Moondance” by Van Morrison, arguably Ireland’s best-known musician. Finally, the piece “Lettercollum” came into existence directly under the influence of the brothers’ Irish trip.
“Relaxin‘ in Ireland” is the very personal glimpse of the Emerald Isle through the language of music. But it is also an album which tells the story of how the surroundings of West Cork cast their spell over the trio at the very moment of musical creation.