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Heimlich

17 Hippies

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Album Review

OK, there aren't 17 of them and they may or may not be hippies. But this German band makes an interesting sound — or variety of sounds — on Heimlich. It's a case of "spot the genre" as much as anything. In "Schattenmann" and "Rustemul" you can hear the Balkans calling, at least in part; "The Moving Song" mutates from a vaguely Cajun beginning into something else entirely; the title cut offers the kind of softly psychedelic vocals that wouldn't have sounded out of place in the 1960s; and their version of the twanging guitar instrumental "Apache" features no guitars at all, along with a time signature change to make it into something oddly familiar but still quite alien. In other words, it's a glorious, gleeful mélange that won't stand still long enough to be pinned down. In many ways that's a good thing, since it shows a band having fun with its music. But at the same time, their chameleon-like nature makes it hard to know exactly what to make of them — as with the semi-orchestral break in the middle of "Madame," for instance. It appears out of nowhere and vanishes again. Pleasant, yes, but it leaves you no closer to understanding 17 Hippies. Maybe that's the secret, though — not to understand, but simply to accept and enjoy. [This edition includes a bonus track.]

Biography

Genre: World

Years Active:

Based in Berlin, Germany, the 17 Hippies started off in 1995 as a trio playing the otherwise unlikely mix of Cajun and Baroque music. Gradually, they expanded their line-up and eventually ended up as an orchestra consisting of twenty, sometimes even thirty musicians. Coming from different backgrounds like rock, jazz and classical music, the band members assimilated virtually any musical style available and blended all of this into their own unique sound. Thus, they feel equally at home whether playing...
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Heimlich, 17 Hippies
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