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February 2nd, 2007 - click opera
February 2010
 
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February 2nd, 2007
Fri, Feb. 2nd, 2007 09:01 pm

I played a gig in Hamburg on Thursday night in a heaving little treehouse buzzbox called The Golden Pudel Klub. Pudel is down on the Hamburg docks (facing huge liners, their lights looming out of the fog), and behind it lies the Reeperbahn red-light district. That's where my hotel, the Kogge, was -- I slept in satin in a chilly room decorated like a torture dungeon, with ivy, chains... and no bathroom.



But the high point of the evening, for me, was meeting the extraordinary Felix Kubin. The organizer had told me he'd be DJing after my performance so, rather than playing the endless encores the audience were demanding, I said "I really want to end now because I want to hear Felix Kubin's DJ set!" After I'd used this excuse a couple of times a man shouted from the crowd "I am Felix Kubin and I want you to play another song!"

Felix is a man -- a former 13 and a half year-old genius -- with amazing talents, excellent taste and a dry, quirky sensibility. Of his home town he says: "Hamburg is an "intellectual" city. Knowledge is used to confuse others, mostly in a humourous way." When we met he gave me two CDs -- his CD re-issue (on Gagarin Records) of one of my favourite records of all time, Holger Hiller and Thomas Fehlmann's "Wir Bauen Eine Stadt", released as a cassette on Ata Tak in 1981. It's a gloopy synth reworking of Paul Hindemith's utopian operetta about a town run entirely by children -- in a way, the optimistic opposite of William Golding's Lord of the Flies, because this town works like clockwork and everybody is tremendously nice to each other. Hindemith's gebrauchsmusik (useful music) is also fantastic.

The other record was Kubin's recent collaboration with Dutch band Coolhaven, Suppe Für Die Nacht (Soup for the Night). Organizer Ralf had played an amazing track earlier in the evening, a song starting "I wash my hands in the water of the toilet, I wash my hands in the beauty of your tears". It sounded a bit like the Divine Comedy, early and good Divine Comedy -- but with more original lyrics. It turned out to be a song by Felix Kubin and Coolhaven. I hope they don't mind if I offer it to you here as an example of their talents:

There is a Garden Felix Kubin and Coolhaven, from the album Suppe Für Die Nacht (Korm Plastics KP 3025), 3.4MB stereo mp3 file.

Family ties: Felix is a friend of Anne Laplantine, who spent an "unhappy" year in Hamburg. Felix and I have both contributed tracks to the extraordinary bird-as-artist project Cagesan. And here are some Felix Kubin You Tube videos.

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