By Amanda Nordqvist
After two self-released EP’s, German musician Jochen Tiberius Koch is now releasing his first full album, Walden, through Schole Records. Inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s book from 1854, “Walden; or, Life in the Woods”, where Thoreau writes about his experience living in a forest: portraying the liveliness of nature while criticizing civilized society. Jochen explores this same approach to nature in his album, Walden, utilizing his characteristic synthesizer sound, mixed gracefully with the more classical tendencies of piano and strings – resulting in an intriguing and highly personal sound.
A steady, mindful beginning: solitude tells us, with resolve in every movement, of a path into this other world we’re about to enter. The climbing melody instills such hope that I am overwhelmed; soon, the strings come in like a faithful answer to the echoing all around us. The second half of the track introduces a melody so eerily similar to the Stranger Things theme song that I feel it must be a commentary on this other world we harbor, although ours is all around us and not hidden at all. This second, ancient world we step by step are shutting ourselves out from – enclosing ourselves with cement walls and building ourselves up in ever higher buildings, further and further from the grass beneath our feet.
After the bean-field with its gloriously enticing spoken word element, performed by Dieter Bellmann, we are thrown into the water as the ponds starts playing. With the accompanying video, directed by Shin Kikuchi, this track is the one that stands out the most, with horns, clear and crisp, like an introduction to the warm, airy vocals of Willy Son, backed by arpeggiatic piano, raining down like glittering drops on a still lake.
Later in the album we are introduced to another highly intriguing track, as brute neighbors lets the whispering of Manfred Kroog lure us closer, deeper into the woods – the strings are like rope around our wrists, tugging us ever forward, step by step, further into the dark. The second half of the track adds in an eerie tinkering, like someone curiously following along on our journey through the forest; never seen but you can feel it there, at the back of your neck, someone sprinting in and out of the shadows, observing without interfering.
A new element is added in as the rhythmic, playful the pond in winter starts playing – with a sense of improvisation to the shimmering melody, there’s something childlike and pure in the unpredictability; I am swept away in the movement, fluttering through leaves and tall grass, sending dew drops flying through the air. Finally, the ending track doesn’t seem like an ending at all, as the grand spring brings us horns like the base of nature’s deep sound, and the soft, gentle vocals of Fräulein Laura, the first breeze of spring floating around the woods, breathing life into the stiffness of the slumbering trees. But indeed, with this track, Walden is over – and though we return to modern life, once more surrounded by four walls, I feel I do take part of nature with me, as though a newborn tree has sprouted roots somewhere within my soul.