ÄTNA are playing Sophocles. Inéz Schaefer delivers the dramatic soliloquies while Demian Kappenstein gives them musical context.
In Schaefer’s singing, you hear Antigone’s larger-than-life fatality, but also her iron will and a never-ending struggle. She sounds like she’s about to suffer a lot following the defeat in a battle against some tragic fate. Surrounding her are the sounds of family curses and self-inflicted calamities.
Once again a band name is well chosen. ÄTNA are Aetnaeus, the mythical mountain containing the furnaces of Hephaestus (Roman name: Vulcan), under which Typhon, the greatest danger to the Greek gods, was trapped by Zeus after a gigantic battle.
Still today, it is the most active volcano in Italy and constantly seething. The perfect image for ÄTNA’s brooding compositions, especially the lava flood of “In their Eyes” and the crumbling stone walls of “Shut Your Mouth”.
In April, the Dresden duo released their self-titled debut EP. It contains five songs full of emotion, each a different one but all mightily charged.
It begins with “Walls”, whose wordless singing and jazzy piano chords are soon disrupted by spacious drums; from the start, the bizarre chorus effect on Schaefer’s voice creates an eerie atmosphere, lyrics like “the earth is crying” and “how many more people have to die?” serve to reinforce the slightly “biophilian” feeling of Mother Nature suffering.
“In Their Eyes” features the same aggressive drumming, at times it resembles PVT’s massive ”Light Up Bright Fires”. “Blossom” on the other hand has some rather dramatic string arrangements and a gorgeous vocal melody around the middle. The closer “Shut Your Mouth” strays the farthest from Schaefer and Kappenstein’s jazz roots and into dark dance territory.
My favourite though is “Remission” with its heartfelt apologies and regret. Its musical basis is rather traditional, but nonetheless gripping – like the best songs about love and pain.
It is the most human of the five songs and goes to show that behind all the sonic kicks and percussive punches with which ÄTNA overwhelm you, the duo are great songwriters too.
Stream on “ÄTNA” EP Spotify.