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What’s that tune? …it’s Herman Düne!

March 29, 2011

There are several reasons why I felt the need to share foreign music with you. Firstly, because I think you, and by you I mean English people, are too into your own music. Okay, let’s face it; you are probably the best in music, but still, come on, be aware there are good musicians all over the wild world, and by that I mean in France! It leads me to my ‘secondly’; I’m gonna sound really patriotic but I’m proud of my culture and I wish you knew more about our music – there is more to us than Daft Punk and Phoenix for God’s sake! And thirdly, I want to show my gratitude to my best friend who has been a great music adviser since day one, and to prove to her I listened to her advice/taste in music even when I was reluctant to believe her (all the time, indeed.)

Herman Düne – My Friends Kill My Folks

There are two things I’ve been pretty sure about for a very long time; that I hate rap music and that I detest pure folk music. As far as I can remember I’ve always been into rock music, (if we rule out my boyband period – which means for my entire teens really!) One of my reluctances has been fixed thanks to some great hip-hop recommendations I’ve been reading on TWLT. About folk, I still think it’s lame (here is a challenge for one of our writers to make me change my opinion?), however I’m glad I discovered something beyond the term folk. Through Herman Düne, I understood what anti-folk was. This outlandish musical genre, which appeared in New York in the 80’s, mixes rock and folk music; the best components of musical folklore have been kept and the clichéd ones have been erased, like the popular and traditional aspects of folk.

In case you are wondering who the hell is hiding under the name of Herman Düne, here is the answer. Andre and David-Ivar Herman Düne are a duo born from a Swedish mother and a French father; which was confusing for people to define the nationality of the band (seriously I don’t know why, I read that on wikipedia.) Plenty of additional artists are playing on their albums though, all sort of artists, from Baby Skins to Julie Doiron. Being very unassuming people, their interviews are pretty rare. Nevertheless, they always cite Van Morrison as one of their influences, which explains why ‘I Wish That I Could See You Soon’ (Giant, 2007) sounds so similar to the Morrison’s ‘Precious Time.’

Herman Düne – I Wish That I Could See You Soon

Realising that Herman Düne’s sound wasn’t too emotional or lovey-dovey, but much more idiosyncratic, made me want to listen to them over and over. I immersed myself into their universe and they just blew my head off. It’s really amazing how peaceful, calm and serene their music can be when they suddenly burst into a big guitar sound like at the end of ‘My Home is Nowhere Without You’ (Next Year in Zion, 2008).

Herman Düne cannot be understood in one song, but once you get it you’ll want to delve into their varied discography. They are an enchanting duo, and they make you travel far away – yet you have to be in the perfect condition. I suggest you begin when you are in a train, looking at the English countryside, with ‘Seven Cities’ (Not on Top, 2005). Man, it’s ace.

Sometimes, singing in tune is not their main strength – for instance in the middle of ‘Monkey Song’ (Mash Concrete Metal Mushroom, 2006) when Andre goes up in the high notes. As a mirthful hymn to monkeys, I think this song is clunky in a nice way (by the way, this weird nonsensical song deserves to be mentioned as it is typical of Adam Green’s lyrics; which are a bit loopy.) In a way, simple lyrics make Herman Düne’s style what it is, otherwise they wouldn’t sound so melodious and harmonious; they are not vocalists but performers. Once again, whilst I can only rely on YouTube, Herman Düne’s live performances seem to be a very interesting experience (and not only to see how cute they are with their bushy beards). You know, it’s one of these rich gigs which provides something different from what listen to at home on the record. They are lively, blazing on stage, not dull as ditchwater[1] as we could probably expect from a band with a hint of folk. They linger over songs they know are popular, like ‘My Friends Kill My Folks’ (Mas Cambios, 2003) and get rid of the few boring songs they have in their repertoire.

One thing I really like about their recording quality is that they always intensify the sound at the right moment, either by nonchalantly intensifying their guitar-playing on the bluesy ‘By the Door of the Temple’ (They Go to the Wood, 2001) – or by making their little sister’s sweet voice involved on ‘Walk, Don’t Run’ (Not on Top, 2005), or even with the power of a very gipsy tambourine in ‘This Will Never Happen’ (Not on Top, 2005.)

Herman Düne – By the Door of the Temple

They’ve always reminded me of The Moldy Peaches or Devendra Banhart but if they read that, I reckon they would strongly disagree. I guess it’s because of the similar rhythm section they have – the staccato notes. It’s very tricky to describe this enigmatic band, when they try to be purist and equivocal at the same time. For me, they are a real rough diamond which is why it’s hard to put into words what they sound like, so I won’t launch into something I’m not gonna cope with!

Apparently not designed for being superstars, these two guys have, however, finally managed to find a sense of belonging in this industry; whether solo or together in the band. And no, they are not just a pair of cool hippies, they are a couple of great artists too.

Enjoy the listen.

Enjoy your life and make Peace & Love your motto.

Here is a nice link if you fancy to continue your research. They played a few songs live for a French website who has an original concept consisting of doing “take-away shows”,2346

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Bingo permalink
    March 29, 2011 9:52 am

    Very nice stuff. Particularly taken by the first and last track you put up. The second one definitely has a huge Van Morisson influence but that isn’t exactly my cup of tea! You needn’t worry about the insular nature of the UK when it comes to foreign bands! I think the biggest barrier is language…ashamed as I am to admit this…and always will be for foreign bands. If they don’t / can’t sing in English they are already at a huge disadvantage over here. Yet in doing so they can then end up being ostricised by their own nation for abandoning their mother tongue (Phoenix and Air being prime examples). I will admit that most of the foreign music I own is either French, Swedish or Norwegian but it is predominantly because they sing in English (the latter two countries do it because, if I’m not mistaken, rhyming is not a strong point of their language though!). Will need to have a little look into some more stuff from these guys though.

  2. R.Biz permalink
    March 30, 2011 10:59 am

    I really enjoy these Herman Düne tracks, particularly ‘By the Door of the Temple’. Genre-defining is a pet peeve of mine (and I’m sure many others) and I find it comical that a booksworth somewhere has gone to such effort to quantise bands into set genres, and the names never cease to amaze. I’m not sure what “Anti-folk” is.. wikipedia tells me it’s folk without the seriousness or pretentious-ness. But surely it’s pretentious to distance oneself from folk like this? And also, is “serious” or political-minded folk not “folk revival”, the 50-60s folk/folk-rock by the likes of Bob Dylan etc, which has it’s roots in actual folk music? I would say this is more like the original folk. I don’t know. It is what it is! Genres make my head spin.
    But that’s beside the point.. thanks for pointing me back to Herman Düne. I look forward to listening to some albums in the English sun.

    ps. aussie sam showed me blogotheque a while back, what a great site! I wish we could get bands to play for us…

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