AMN Reviews: Niedowierzanie – Paradies (Zoharum)

a1467090160_16According to Genesis, Paradise slipped through our fingers just after having been attained. Adam and Eve had barely settled in before being banished by their Landlord. We´ve been longing to regain it ever since. Medieval and Renaissance intellectuals from St. Augustine to Dante were downright obsessed with it, certain that it existed somewhere, on this very earth, around some corner in Jerusalem or perhaps in the fabled kingdom of Prester John, “in the Far East beyond Persia and Armenia”. Various 16th-century explorers thought they might just have found it, up and down the east coast of the Americas and all the way to the Solomon Islands. Some histories and theologies speculate that it could be regained, others that it now exists beyond time, in the place where the righteous abide and await the Final Judgement, still others that it is the post-Apocalyptic reward.

On Paradies, Niedowierzanie, a Frenchman (Léo Maury) living in Berlin and trading under a Polish name (that enticingly translates as “disbelief”) evokes not so much Paradise but Paradise Lost (hear the despair of “Vous Voulez Ma Peau” and “Les Horizons Perdus”) and the desire to recoup it – literally (sometimes it sounds as if masons are hard at work raising its wall) and figuratively, conjured by the poetic arabesques of a lone, low cello, sweet accordion and mandolin. Ultimately, Paradies is a somewhat vexing work, theatrical in its musique concrète elements, metaphorical in its more conventionally euphonious moments. Perhaps it is far less complex than that – the cover features a pastoral etching of the Valley of Hinnom and the photograph inside the gatefold depicts a small group of mostly Yemenite Jews, men, women and children, clinging to the Wailing Wall, both circa 1900 – perhaps Niedowierzanie believes Jerusalem of old is as close as we get.

Regardless, the final piece, “#9,” is cathartically ascensive.

Stephen Fruitman