Like a skyrocketing superstar

– portrait of Heiner Goebbels

I can clearly remember how the CD looked. It was green and typical of ECM, cool and tasty. The music was overwhelming and Ensemble Modern was fantastic.
Unfortunately I only heard it a couple of times before it vanished. Yet the composer had made an impression, and when I saw his name on a – then – brand new CD I immediately snatched it up.
The composer’s name was Heiner Goebbels. The CD was called Shadow/Landscape with Argonauts – a strange title – and the music completely took my breath away.
I have always had a weakness for words and text as music, and you’d better believe I had something to go weak at the knees for when I heard this CD. It was one of those that didn’t leave the CD player for a long time, and I made sure I got it played for Danish Radio P2’s listeners as much as I possibly could on the now long-defunct programme ‘Indigo’.
makes him interesting
Goebbels was born in 1952. he has studied sociology and music, he has founded and played in bands like Sogenanntes Linksradikales Blasorchester (‘The So-called Left-Radical Brass Band’ – top marks for inventiveness in naming), the Goebbels/Harth Duo (not quite so inventive) and the art-rock trio Cassiber.
He has composed music for radio, theatre, film, ballet, and the concert hall. He has created music-theatre pieces, radio-works and even an opera, and he mixes genres so it’s quite impossible to find out what to call what he does – and that makes it all the more interesting.
22 Like a skyrocketing superstar...
My interest in the music of Heiner Goebbels has only grown since then – a composer who mentions Hanns Eisler and The Beach Boys as two of his sources of inspiration will always be close to my heart.
music like no one else
Heiner Goebbels is no longer as sort-of-undergroundish as he was then, many years ago when I came across him.... hmm, perhaps I’d better take that back... Even when I first came across his music he had already risen quite a bit from the underground.
Today he is a superstar skyrocketing through the firmament of contemporary music. A star with its own quite unique path, for his music sounds like no one else’s – it’s jam-packed with energy and reflection, as well as pessimism and strange humour. And it isn’t the slight- est bit afraid of making contact with the listener.
Goebbel’s music is about real things, about great thoughts and big feelings – and you can hear it. It’s sensual music for the head – or a kick in the head for the senses.
a town translated into music
Heiner Goebbel’s work Surrogate Cities is a town set to music.
The contrastful spaces, voices and moods of the city are whipped up in a pulsating, kaleido- scopic mix of genres and styles in a work that involves a large symphony orchestra, singers and a sampler. It is contemporary music, soul, rock, jazz – uniting in one cacophonous, electrifying burst of expression.
‘I try to read the city like a text’, says Goebbels – ‘to translate its mechanics and architecture into music’. The result is a multi-faceted, multi-layered work. The truth about the city
(if such a truth exists) is hidden in the joints between the bricks, the clashes between the elements, the friction between words and music.
voices from another world
Goebbels has chosen two world stars to recite, sing, read and scream a selection of the texts from Surrogate Cities: the jazz and soul diva Jocelyn B. Smith and the vocal artist David Moss. Lyt til Nyt has talked to them about words, sound and meanings in Surrogate Cities.

Trine Boje Mortensen
2005
in Miriam Frandsen and Jesper Schou-Knudsen: SPACE & COMPOSITION
Kopenhagen, 2005