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In no time, Rome
have created a highly impressive back catalogue: eight albums and several EPs in just six years. Since the project's early days, JeRome Reuter
has won an ever-increasing fanbase via indescribably moving, dark and melancholy musical landscapes pertaining to ideological as well as historical homelessness. Reuter
has always mastered the art of transporting the listener into a unique musical world. Rome
's discography is a collection of complex and inter-woven works. So for example, the stylistically and musically French-dominated 'Nos Chants Perdus' (Trisol 2010) was set in the French underground of the 1950s and 60s whereas its predecessor 'Flowers From Exile' (Trisol 2009) was concerned with the Spanish civil war and the freedom fighter's subsequent exile in France and elsewhere. As JeRome Reuter
was researching both of the above-mentioned albums, there repeatedly appeared in his mind's eye the quivering vision of a greater, underlying truth, an endeavour, an ideal, which was equally inherent in all of these histories, all of these individual biographies unearthed. This quest, during which the essence of an aesthetic gradually emerged, led to Amsterdam, the south of France and Spain, and many other spots in the back yard of history.
The result is a song cycle in three volumes; over 150 minutes spread across three CDs. The cycle is bound together by spoken word parts, breathing the spirit of the works Bertolt Brecht, Pablo Neruda, HM Enzensberger and Gustav Landauer among others. Three albums, three different recordings, each with a different sound. JeRome Reuter
retreated to Belgium for a year - which seems fitting considering that the country is currently without government - in order to live and work in a converted farmhouse studio in a secluded environment. International current events - the uprisings in Tunisia and Libya - accompanied the recordings and brought to the whole an acute topical connection and an unexpected but appropriate contemporary historical framework.
by no means set out to portray exact historical facts, the listener nevertheless obtains a concrete historical experience far beyond that of blogs and internet posts. He creates an aesthetic which attempts to get to the bottom of the sensuality and meaningfulness of the struggle for freedom while at the same time avoiding pointing the finger and the contextlessness of art for art's sake. As is the case with his literary role model Peter Weiss's trilogy 'The Aesthetics of Resistance', to which parallels in content and form are not unintended, the reflection of the relationship between art and politics forms one of the core elements of the trilogy.
If art isn't underpinned by the greater part of an ideal or is based on a utopia (however futile it may be), then it is hollow and could by no means be considered subversive - which is what would be desirable. Without a genuine counterworld, art is only narcissistic folklore and the artist who regards himself to be uninfluenced by current events is merely a designer.
The sumptuous packaging carries with it a whiff of extravagance and wasted grandeur, especially in a time in which MP3s flying around, seemingly free of charge, determine the appreciation of music consumers, and in which the relationship between music and the actual physical sound carrier is rapidly disappearing. But this work of art is no solitary pleasure. It demands to be more than a curiosity for the more sensitive parts of a washed-out bourgeoisie. The form isn't self-congratulatory, nor are the sentiments trivial or coincidental.Volume 1: 'Aufbruch' or 'A Cross Of Wheat
The aesthetic dimension of this first volume is that of immediacy. This is made plain by the choice of the recording techniques used (throughout the entire production, Reuter
used only analogue equipment) and the raw and unrelenting sound. It sings the praises of the birth of a revolt, born out of a fascination with action and resistance in itself. It is the pride in self-determination, of resistance, because to resist means giving destiny a form (Camus). However, Rome
does not present art which only devotes itself to efficiency: the music remains too experimental, too difficult to decode for that to be the case. 'Free man, you will always love the sea' (Baudelaire): as is so often the case with Rome
, the poetry of the sea ('The Merchant Fleet') crops up again here and there. The liberation and/or libertarian movement was never a coherent movement, because it never wanted to be a matter of demands, but of life (Landauer). Its nature is manifold and contradictory. Its essence is of freedom, therefore it can never be uniform. This finds musical expression on 'Aufbruch' in the multifaceted, stylistically-differing arrangements: from haunting sequences reminiscent of audio books, to plaintive ballads and experimental industrial collages - everything is represented here.Volume 2: 'Aufruhr' or 'A Cross Of Fire
present a stylistic and emotional potpourri where all manner of things are on offer: rousing folk numbers with an almost seditious air, dark romantic ballads as well as intimiste collages. Without ever becoming enslaved to one particular ideological alignment or descending into nihilism, the song cycle portrays the history of the libertarian/revolutionary movement within Europe and at the same time underlines the human importance of such an endeavour. After volume 1 tried to capture the initial spark of a revolt, the strength of an awakening, volume 2 concerns itself with the beauty of the righteous fight and also the constantly impending danger of it becoming perverted. 'We must doubt ourselves. The clarity of our intentions, the profundity of our thoughts, the benevolence of our deeds! We must doubt our own truthfulness! Do lies not already linger in them again?' - Iles AichingerVolume 3: 'Aufgabe' or 'A Cross Of Flowers
'Art holds a unity that history does not' - it is not without good reason that this slogan is preposed to the third part of the trilogy. Art should not be confused with reality (Brecht) and thus Rome
preserve the necessary critical distance from the subject without sinking into formlessness. At the same time they succeed equally in illustrating the warm-heartedness of their protagonists and demonstrating the unity of art and the struggle for freedom. From Plato to Nietzsche or Marx, all innovators mistrusted art, even though it is inseparably connected to revolt, because artists also want to create the world anew. 'Aufgabe' formulates the possibility of a higher set of ethics beyond the current economic system; ethics, whose fundamental principles are those of generosity and universal freedom. It is the appeal for the cultivation of life-affirming, moral and life-enhancing, aesthetic values. To turn one's own life into a work of art, to give yourself to this work: that is the desired stance. As Conrad expressed it: the objective of the artist is to see that justice is done to the invisible universe. This is exactly what JeRome Reuter
has done here. 'The way everything is at the moment, I say, for the intellectual and cultured person to haughtily look down upon the social and the socio-political realms is an erroneous approach which is contrary to life. The political and the social are part of the human.' - Thomas Mann