Helge Schneider remains true to himself: the jazz musician and multi-instrumentalist takes up everyday episodes on his new album "Torero" - musically sophisticated and of course not without some weird Schneiderian breaks in the middle of the piece.
Despite the unmistakable sound, there are surprises: For example "The Wizard", a kind of radio play. Embedded in a sweet carpet of sound, Schneider describes in an acoustically hyper-realistic way the encounter of a man who has to meet the toilet staff at a motorway service station. "Young man, you can't go through here, I'm swiping here, you can see it," it says.
Why not Chopin on highway toilets?
"The Wizard" is a critical examination of the background music called "Muzak", explains Schneider in an interview with the German press agency dpa. "You hear this music as a sprinkler on highway toilets, with rainforest sounds and cockatoos and things like that." He just wanted to point out what music is also misused for. "I don't really know what I, as a musician, should think of it, to be honest. Because you could also play Beethoven or Chopin."
The name of the new record - Schneider always says "record" to his albums - takes up the title of the first song: "The Last Torero". The cover shows Schneider in a bullfighting costume. "I bought the torero suit in a second-hand shop in Berlin. The seller said: The last torero. And then I thought, I have to make a song out of it." It's a real costume. "You can pull off the sleeves completely. If you get injured, you can work on them straight away. You don't have to take off your jacket."
The album contains eight tracks, including an instrumental. It's about people who like to eat (The Eater), or about an entire profession that is always to blame for everything (The Guilty Doctor). (Unfulfilled) male longings are also a popular topic: in "American Bypass", for example, Schneider sings how a man on the beach falls in love with a beautiful woman "ad hoc": "I wanted to show what I could do, I undressed, then I jumped into the wild sea, it was very cold. You - looked away."
Next he plans a jazz record
Also in a piece with the auspicious title "L.O.T.C." for "Love on the couch" there is no classic happy ending: "We have made ourselves comfortable on the couch. You take my hand tenderly and lead it - into the bag with peanut chips." Later, a self-embroidered blanket by Aunt Erna from 1959 comes into play. Just no romance.
The musician Sandro Giampietro, with whom the Mülheimer has been working together for many years, took part again. "I didn't really want to make a record, but then we did two pieces that we already knew. So he plays the guitar, the chords, the rhythm. And I play the piano and sing. I'll have the other instruments later played on it." The former Wallenstein singer Kim Merz ("Charline") can also be heard in the background of two tracks.
The new songs are also available live. Schneider has been touring Germany with a band since mid-February. "The Last Bullfighter. Big L.A. Show" is the title of the tour. Around 80 performances are planned. Schneider also wants to play outside of the tour: on July 7, the jazz musician is planning an open-air performance with the Folkwang Jazz Orchestra at the Villa Hügel in Essen, the former residence of the industrialist family Krupp. The next album is already in the works: it should be a "jazz record", he says.
Schneider is now 67 years old. But he's far from thinking about retiring: "Actually, I'm retired, but I love my job. I can't imagine ever stopping." His age doesn't matter to his audience either: "The people who come to my concerts think I'm the same age as them, no matter how old they are."