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Johanna Brun – Ur Funktion (previous single)/new EP released

Because we’ve featured three of the tracks on her new four track EP ‘The Bird EP’ by Johanna Brun previously I was going to let it go and wait for her debut album but then I realised that included on it is what was her debut single back in early 2018, ‘Ur Funktion’, which translates loosely as ‘Out of Order’, and which has not previously be seen in NMC.

As it happens that turned out to be a mistake because I find today that it has been replaced on Spotify by a new EP track, ‘In the Shades’ but having started this I’ll finish it because it gives me the opportunity to talk about this song, one that is more raw as it hasn’t been subjected to extensive production techniques unlike her more recent ones.

Being out of order is both unfortunately and fortunately a familiar theme with Johanna.

Unfortunately – because as I’ve mentioned previously she has suffered more trials and travails in her young life than Oedipus, Job and Joan of Arc combined, some of them health related, others socially related.

Fortunately – because of the way she is able to translate those experiences in song and verse, which is marvelous.

Ur Funktion’ chronicles the effect on her life of the affliction from which she suffers, which appears to have regressed somewhat now but which at the time she wrote it, during her mid teens, was a physical and mental curse and one that had a considerable impact on her writing.

I actually had a go at translating ‘Ur Funktion’ into English along with a friend last year and I’ll use that translation to comment on it.

One of the things that stand out about Johanna Brun’s writing is her use of allegory, often multiple times in the same verse, and which stands comparison with the very best:

“I’m a shell of who I was; my tree is shedding its leaves now,

Its withered roots frozen in winter’s melancholic grip

Fragile ice crystals that melt into tears

The sun’s rays sprout a seed into life again

Along my brighter future path.”

That translation probably doesn’t do the original justice but hopefully conveys my point.

Another notable feature is her ability to transfer a negative into a positive usually at the end of a verse like this, (here the sun sprouting a seed into life along the path she takes) as if to affirm that she is no loser, rather a battler even with one hand tied behind her back.

Musically I’ve started to notice a common theme about Johanna’s early songs and demos of later ones, namely a very simple opening piano piece which can amount to no more than one or two notes repeated but which can be highly effective all the same as an enticement down the rabbit hole as it is here.

Compositionally and vocally, even six years ago she had already acquired the ability to emote in a way well beyond her years, the promise that one day she can reach the heights of a Carole King, or Karen Carpenter; perhaps even an Edith Piaf, an artist more representative of her stage persona and dynamism.

If this song was being released now it would have a full orchestral backing like all her more recent work and that’s a justification I think for revisiting the stripped back version of Johanna Brun, one that may now be history.

Incidentally I’d still like to hear an English version of this song; one which I believe was planned in 2018 but didn’t happen.

I took a listen to the new track, ‘In the Shades,’ too and suggest you might want to do the same. The greater maturity in her voice is evident and I can say confidently that Johann Brun is getting very close now to being the complete package.




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