When Julian Cope presented his Krautrocksampler back in 1995 Anima Sound was not included. Looking back Cope’s book is lacking a lot music that nowadays is common to the digital informed cosmic voyager (from Siloah to German Oak or even more obscure stuff like Necronomicon’s “Tips zum Selbstmord”). But Cope’s book is a pioneering work anyway – he championed a lot of great music when it wasn’t very hip to dig Klaus Schulze and his peers. And I like to think that he didn’t feature Anima Sound for a good reason, because even if having in mind that Krautrock is sort of an umbrella term for various kinds of music Anima Sound is something different. Music that is informed more by John Cage and other classical composers (Stockhausen NOT included) and is pretty much the music of a married couple that went its own way and far beyond the hippie-commune-lifestyles of the late 60’s / early 70’s.
When Limpe Fuchs started Anima Sound with her then husband Paul Fuchs she was already in her late twenties and a classical trained musician. The man she fell in love with was a bloody beginner eager to make music despite his lack of technical skills. Limpe herself was bored by the orthodox ways of making classical music, so it all fell into place. They started making music for themselves and it was more or less by accident that Rolf Ulrich Kaiser got notice and pushed the couple to record for his Ohr label. Apart from being on the same label they didn’t have anything in common with their label mates. The couple went its own way, pretty much the opposite direction compared to the fancy lifestyles back then: being married they bought a house in the countryside, raised kids on their own and made a mostly self-sufficient living from keeping sheep and other animals. The music was always something that had to fit in that way of life. Anima Sound was always about making music but not so much about being a musician. (There is a small German-TV documentary called “Europatournee mit 20 km/h” which gives an interesting insight on their way of living and making music back then.)
I’m reflecting on that wider context because it’s part of “Stürmischer Himmel”. Although recorded mostly in a proper studio the record starts with field recordings from the environment they lived in: one can hear the wind and sheep before other sounds come in. Limpe Fuchs is mostly responsible for the percussion/drums and the singing while Paul Fuchs is “improvising” (or just doing “something”) on self built instruments like the “Fuchshorn”. Limpe Fuchs once described the way Anima Sound made music together as: “Paul was doing something random, something free and wild and I was mostly circling around him trying to keep it together, to transform his sonic forays into something a bit more cohesive.” This tension between the two is the foundation of the music. The interaction between a classical trained musician who decided to break away from musical conventions of her times and her partner, who’s chaotic approach towards music provokes her to rope him in.
“Stürmischer Himmel” is an intimate affair, a journey into a rather private than universal cosmos – the cover of the record reflects that too: Limpe and Paul Fuchs naked on the frontcover, their two little kids, the partly self built instruments and even the sheep they lived with on the back of the cover. The music recorded works of course without any knowledge of the circumstances it was made under, but in order to explain why this record is so different from a lot of other classic Krautrock it’s important to know how much Anima Sound’s lifestyle (and music) was different from the male dominated peer group that defined a lot of the now canonized Kraut (i.e.: there’s only a handful of guys playing together in various combinations responsible for a bunch of great records: Göttsching, Enke, Schulze on the one hand or Schnitzler, Moebius and Roedelius on the other).
And there’s a musical reason too: Anima Sound is an all-acoustic affair. While experiments with new electronic technologies defined and still define what is so special about Cluster, Can, Klaus Schulze and the likes, Anima Sound’s music doesn’t depend on electricity at all. The voice, drums and all the self-built stuff may have been recorded and therefore electronics/electricity was needed, but apart from recording techniques the music was acoustic or – to use another term: primitive. In opposition to the synthesizer-embracing krautheads getting lost in electronic trips Anima Sound banged on drums, blew the pipes, hit the piano where it hurts and screamed the shit out of their lungs. Real wild children back then and Limpe Fuchs stuck to her primal roots in more than one sense. Being over 70 now she’s still wild at heart and a performing artist travelling with her acoustic instruments all over Europe. And even though she’s not forgotten her music deserves to be rediscovered by a wider audience. Start with Anima Sound and follow her through the years – not a cosmic more an earthly trip: furious, intense & dirty.
review by Holger Adam