Ernst Horn
»Lili Marleen, Baghdad, 2’91«
Feature at Sonic Seducer



When the telephone does not ring at 8 pm, as we agreed, I suspect that Ernst might still be looking at the news: It is March 20, 2003, the previous night US & British military attacked Iraq. With the Gulf War ‘91 Ernst had dealt with his now re-released solo album “The Skies Over Baghdad”, now the mini-CD “Lili Marleen, Baghdad, 02’91” is also released. Ernst was actually sitting at the TV.

“I watched CNN, yes.” While I greet him on the phone, I ask how he feels; Ernst sighs, “Oh, yes…. I didn’t sleep much, I waited forever yesterday for the attacks, on the VCR…” Is he eagerly documenting the following projects again? “Oh, not necessarily, no. I don’t know why. It’s more of an addiction; I’m not really planning anything, no. I don’t have the time.”

“One has been entertained, but not informed.”

In 1991 Ernst had reacted to the Gulf War with a solo album, a collage of electronics & samples - unfortunately the re-release of this album now makes sense… “Yes…”, Ernst agrees. I wait, but he does not comment - surprisingly for me - on the current situation, but points out that the album has been out of print for some time, that therefore the time has come for re-release, less influenced by current events. “Carl (Erling, Chrom Records) wanted to make a new edition for a long time, he hadn’t liked the cover so much, that was pretty tense,” explains Ernst. “Sure, I’ve been saying for the last few months, “Go ahead!”

That the rather bulky album was out of print is remarkable - who is Ernst addressing with his sound collage? “That’s a good question; I don’t know…” I just did it back then… There was this night of bombing, & I had accidentally zapped into Tele5, which at that time took over larger and larger blocks from CNN without comment. This is well known - this absurd situation where one has seen the bombardment live on television. It was a novelty to deal with war in this way in the media,” recalls Ernst. “That had sensational ratings, so obviously also entertainment value - while on the other hand nothing could be seen of this Gulf War. You have been entertained, but not informed. I wish I had to implement this in some way. I didn’t give a damn who would buy it - I wanted to do it.” As a kind of personal protest. “Yes, absolutely!”, he confirms. Ernst points out that the war itself was less important to him: “It was less about the Gulf War than about CNN. In itself it is something about media, the attempt to do a postmodern work, to keep oneself out of the evaluation, to document different aspects & to leave that to the listener”.

A new mini-album entitled “Lili Marleen, Baghdad, 02’91” is released less by chance. The approximately half-hour piece documents the performance of Ernst Horn & Sabine Lutzenberger at the “digital-analog”-Festival on October 31, 2002 in Munich. “I was asked if I wanted to participate in this festival& I wanted to do something where I could play a lot live. Lots of hand-played, as few sequencers as possible, nothing pre-worked. Of course it was also very nice that Sabine was there. The topic came up again in autumn & a fundamental thought I had always had was: Where is the individual, the individual human being? Is the individual always only the poor civilian, the women & children? Isn’t the soldier also the victim? An Iraqi soldier has no choice but to flee the flag - he is sent out there, badly equipped, poorly fed, he has to wait for either capture or murder. This is no less tragic than the fate of a civilian. These soldiers may also have a woman sitting at home waiting for them; I imagined what that’s like. Then came the painting of Lili Marleen - the epitome of the waiting soldier’s bride.” From a collection of poems Ernst then chose an old Portuguese poem from the yearning wait of a girl for her lover on the road with the king & combined this with declarations of war - CNN samples he had already used on “Skies Over Baghdad”. “Then you can see for yourself. This is much more subjective than’Skies Over Baghdad’. Right now I’m so charged, I’d probably make a pure hate CD if I did something about the Gulf War…”

R.Laudert - Sonic Seducer 5/2003