In the market for a new T-shirt designed by one of Germany’s most accomplished electronic artistes? Of course you are. Ellen Allien‘s involvement in clothing design is not a new development. In fact, fashion design has been a part of her skill set for a long time. But now she has unveiled a new line of T-shirts, and the images and ideas connected with them are characteristically idiosyncratic.
This latest line from Allien has been named “Mut,” which is German for “courage.” The designs are dubbed Fish (below), The Way, Trail (above) and Allien.
Musing on their distinct meanings, Allien says, “Water means natural life to me which I am always trying to catch in-between. Nature feelings, nature power and the beauty of the earth. The way to something is what I am interested in, I am enjoying the ways which always can change in the end, too. The trail is a sign being left. I love footsteps in the sand or in the cold snow, trails of animals in the forest or the trails of lava flow of a dead volcano.”
Whichever one you might prefer, you can scope out her handiwork in full at her website.
Forty-five minutes long and based on a theatrical dance performance — probably one of the few formats Allien has yet to make her own — this single episode is ambitious next levelism taking made-for-stage music on a drama schooling through analogue and digital, indulging Allien’s inner thespian while bringing DJ culture to the boards.
Strumming acoustic premonitions from a rocking chair, under a moonlit sky in the middle of nowhere, a low-rent start feels for the tonal and abstract, laying a loose beginning-middle-end foundation. Bringing dirge drums to the wilderness, Allien’s loneliness is abundantly clear until, planed by electronics, a burgeoning curiosity splutters into life as clips and bleeps activate, turning the barren into a field of randomized LEDs.
Not a logical progression, but the ‘real’ Allien is now coming through, ever poised to spring the next wave of sounds. After a period stalking prey through fiddled frequencies, still switching between processed and organic, she goes into deep synthesized thought, beaming a free-jazz flashback future-bound. That intro already seems like a lifetime ago. Becoming industrially, then humanly pensive, the patchwork evolves evermore erratically, making the visuals to go with it hard to sketch out. Around two-thirds in, deep jackin’ house takes over in a short-lived, stage-abandoning, LSD-ready experience.
Back to brooding, Allien’s last ten minutes are spent placing leaden pulses and hopeful fragments into an electro/new wave cliffhanger. Brave, if in need of CliffsNotes to help you keep up.