Although the trio Dissidenten specializes in the exotic sounds of Africa, all three of their members -- Uve Müllrich, Marlon Klein, and Friedo Josch -- hail from Berlin, Germany. Originally formed in 1981, the trio issued a few self-financed singles, before touring Asia for the better part of a year. By 1982, the group had relocated to India, where they lived in the palace of Maharaja Bhalkrishna Bharti of Gondagaon in Madja Pradesh in central India. This proved to be the location where Dissidenten's debut full-length recording was written; the album, Germanistan, saw the group joined by such outsiders as the Karnataka College of Percussion, female singer Ramamani, and American saxophonist Charlie Mariano. A year later, it was time for the trio to move once more, this time to North Africa (more specifically, to Tangier, Morocco), where renowned author and composer Paul Bowles introduced the trio to some of the area's best instrumentalists -- resulting in Dissidenten's sophomore effort, Sahara Elektrik, produced by Abdessalam Akaaboune.
The mid-'80s saw the group score their first big hit (in Spain and Italy) with the dance track "Fata Morgana." Subsequently, the group launched a sold out tour of Spain, which led to a John Peel recording session in England, and increased interested in the band throughout the remainder of the world (the group was especially embraced by Canada, where Sahara Elektrik topped the independent charts). The trio decided to set up shop in Spain during 1986, which was where they recorded their third recording, Life at the Pyramids, issued the same year. To support the release, Dissidenten set out on a world tour, a standout performance being the opening night at the 1988 New Music Seminar at the Palladium in New York City.
Dissidenten's first release of the '90s, 1990's Out of This World, was also their first album to be featured on a major U.S. label (Sire/Warner). The album featured several guest North African musicians, including the string section of the Royal National Orchestra of Morocco, plus Cherif Lamrani and Mahmoud Saadi (both members of such renowned outfits as Lemchaheb, Jiljilala, and Nass El Ghiwane). Since beginning the group nearly ten years earlier, the trio decided to move their operations back to their homeland of Berlin. A year later, the in-concert album Live in New York was released (taped at the aforementioned show at the 1988 New Music Seminar), as the bandmembers concentrated on completing a movie/music project that focuses on Native American Indian music.
Dissidenten spent much of 1992 working on their next studio release, The Jungle Book, which again featured several guest musicians -- including the Karnataka College of Percussion, Trilok Gurtu, and Ramesh Shotham. Upon its release a year later, the album proved to be well worth the wait, as European DJs in their annual World-Music-Charts Europe voted the album into second place, while Sven Väth remixed a version of "Jungle Book Part II" as a techno dance track. Once the album's supporting tour wrapped up in 1995, Marlon Klein spent the remainder of the year in Los Angeles, producing the albums Human Love and First Sign of Life for Gary Wright (of which former-Beatle George Harrison made a special appearance).
In 1996, the members of Dissidenten formed their own music company, Exil Musik, and issued Instinctive Traveler, an album that marked the first time that the vocals were sung in English -- supported by appearances at such festival shows as Stuttgart Jazz Open, Leverkusener Jazztage, and Festival De La Diversidad, Barcelona. 1998 saw the group play further shows with guest musicians/singers Izaline Calister, Noujoum Ouazza, and Manickam Yogeswaran, including a spot at the Glastonbury Festival in England, which resulted in the release of the second live album of Dissidenten's career, Live in Europe.
Still going strong in the early 21st century, Dissidenten spent 2000 collaborating on an opera about the Danube River with American composer Gordon Sherwood, which was performed with an orchestra and choir at the International Donau Musik Festival in the city of Ulm. The same year, Marlon Klein traveled to Durban, South Africa, to record the Zulu Choir Phikelela Sakhula and the Real Happy Singers, in addition to producing the album Love Letter for PILI-PILI. 2001 marked the group's 20th anniversary together, which was celebrated by the compilation 2001: A Worldbeat Odyssey, as nine DJs and producers (including such artists as Badmarsh, Lemongrass, Shantel, and Slop Shop, among others) remixed tracks from throughout Dissidenten's long and winding career. Unlike most other remix albums, the release was supported by a tour, featuring several of the album's participants. ~ Greg Prato