Mohna has made a record about her childhood, or rather about childhood itself. Even though the title of the album alludes to the first ten years of Mohna’s life, ‘1985-1994’ transcends the strictly autobiographical, with the 13 songs robbing us of the illusion that the early years in life are a fairly uncomplicated time.
The focal points of the music are Mohna’s fragile and maidenly voice and the piano, played with an undisguised simplicity. The musician from Hamburg succeeds in coaxing breathtakingly enchanting melodies out of the instrument, which would remain inaccessible to the virtuoso. Gentle, whispered snapshots, which open up and become substantial through incorporating chamber music elements. The soundscape is formed by clarinet, double bass, violin and percussion just as much as by the mechanical ticktacking of the piano keys, the clanging of the strings and the creaking of the parquet floor. As such, the record evokes Erik Satie’s, Max Richter’s or Hauschka’s compositions much more than the danceable indie pop Mona Steinwidder indulges in her second musical life, when playing the keyboards in Hamburg three-piece Me Succeeds.
‘1985-1994’ traces early thoughts and feelings, those highlights of memory which remain with us and leave their mark on us. Having yet to develop an overview perspective, the child focuses on little details, which slip through the net of a grown-up’s perception: fleeting episodes, futile utterances and all sorts of subconscious by-products.
Mohna’s work as a visual artist may play a role in enabling her to keep up this particular and attentive perspective. Not only does ‘1985-1994’ venture far into a child’s view of the world, the record itself sounds almost like new born. The music unfolds as vulnerably as a candle light just lit, devoid of everything but the fire itself. What could be a more suitable ambiance for listening to this record than the still of the evening and semidarkness.