Neue Sprache


The artistic oeuvre of Berlin-based Sonja Deffner is as extensive and diverse as its contexts are high-profile: If the classically trained musician could in recent years be heard as a member of the groups Jason & Theodor, Die Heiterkeit, Globus, and PTTRNS, as part of Christiane Rösinger's touring band, or as a recording musician on Andreas Spechtl's (Ja, Panik) albums, she has at the same time produced an acclaimed graphic work, video works and made her theater debut. Under the name Kalme, Deffner now presents her solo debut Neue Sprache, which feels like a culmination: Deffner doesn't need much space to present an artistic position of spectacular incisiveness and maturity. The formal language of Kalme's debut evolves with reference to experimental pop and R&B, but equally informed by ambient electronics or dub techno. Analog and digital sound synthesis meet Deffner's characteristic use of field recordings, acoustic instrumentation (clarinet, percussion) meets musical post-production, sampling meets expressive synthesizer playing. At the center of the album, however, are Deffner's remarkable lyrics, written in German for the first time. Deffner creates a language of stark, emotional poignancy that is as conspiratorial as it is precise. The themes of the tracks develop between the poles of movement and stagnation, understood as motifs of biographical as well as musical ways of being or relating. In this forcefield, personal and political considerations coincide again and again, for example when Deffner reflects on her experiences with the social conditioning of femininity and motherhood. The album title Neue Sprache (New Language), then, describes a search for forms of articulation of solidarization: language as a tool of a new relationship to the world that allows testimony to individual experience without reproducing categories of repression. In this way, Kalme's debut simultaneously achieves a radical intimacy, just as, on the other hand, the confrontation of language and sound repeatedly opens up fissures that deny any semblance of comfort. Neue Sprache does not stop at this modernist gesture, however, but unquestionably takes a stand. That's what Kalme's Neue Sprache ultimately is: the taking of a position. A statement.