On Coronavirus demos, Trump, and hyenas in Lockdown

A dip into the doldrums, followed by hysterical laughing, like a hyena, with friends on a Party App — or with the kids. So it goes, or swings, in the time of coronavirus. When not meeting the social media “invasion of imbeciles”, to use Umberto Eco’s memorable phrase, I’m watching too much television news.

Fancy the clunk-headedness of protesting the Angela Merkel Lockdown Lite that has enabled Germany to avoid the worst of the coronavirus pandemic to date. Unlike, in say, Paris or London, Munich’s major parks have never closed. Consider that Saturday protests in Stuttgart, Munich and other German cities, are against a Lockdown — as it’s lifting — that has made the demos possible in the first place.

Anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists and rabble-rousers of both the far right and far left, rail against restrictions on freedom of expression, and assembly, as they’re assembling to freely express.

But Germany’s protests pale alongside the moral carnage we’ve seen in the US. Though at least Trump’s popping pills against majority medical advice — his mind on the Javel under the sink? — has made clear, were further clarity needed, that putting him in the White House was a mightily chancy undertaking.

Governing, the pandemic has reminded us, is a deeply serious business, and reaffirming Trump cum November looks more than ever like the Great Non-Solution, except for those of us still angry about people better-educated; smarter; harder working and more adaptable than us, getting higher grades and better jobs, even if of the wrong sex and colour.

Observers who initially, charitably credited him with one or two good ideas, even if not his own work, must surely now see those selfsame ideas as the occasional eruption of a kind of wildcat (or wild dog?) mental grasp, blissfully free of strategy or follow-up. Shock tactics, whatever the dangers, prevent one from talking inaudibly. And while injecting bleach was not actually Trump’s idea, he quickly became its tacit advocate once the glorious thought of it lodged like a sand worm in his ear.

Strangely re-humanising as Lockdown draws to an end, is the return to more prosaic, daily concerns — like hair-cuts for the kids. My 13 year-old’s nascent, adolescent attitude, means she’s refusing to get hers lopped though now long like Rapunzel’s. Resisting my ‘bowl haircut’ offer — cutting around a rimmed bowl normally used when scrambling eggs — my 11 year-old, unknowingly impersonating Johnny Ramone, accepted that his mother cut his with the kitchen scissors, free-form. But the end result is much the same. He now looks like a small Friar Tuck.

My German is good enough to venture out to a hair salon or cheap barber across town. I know in advance I’ll choose the barber, at €11.50, and not the upmarket hairdresser just downstairs. Like any good liberal, I seek to integrate. In Germany, I won’t spend the money I’ve got; in France for many years, I’d readily spend the money I didn’t have — a kind of metaphor for the way government and administration work in both countries.

Well, if one is thickening around the gills, hair getting long and carpet-like in a stretch at the back, one can look, in profile, like the top of a ham, a thigh with a face on it, or — a hyena. Initially I was unaware of this because a second mirror is needed to see oneself from the side, and my son, when still a Ramone, broke it performing shrilly in the back bathroom. In fact, he loves opera, sings with the kids’ choir of the state-subsidised Volksoper here. He would never even have heard of the Ramones — though, as if by coincidence, he is quasi-obsessed with hyenas.

The obsession began with the marauding spotted furry ones in the humorous, cartoon version of The Lion King. But his sympathy for intensely cretinous characters, coercive politicians notwithstanding, started earlier with the expectorating Gaston, his feet up on the table, in Beauty and the Beast; haggard Cruella in 101 Dalmations, and Cinderella’s ugly sisters (who else knows their names in three languages?) — like hyenas, as it happens, part of an intensely matriarchal society.

When one sees a child behaving like a child, it can still be amusing, thank the Lord.

Anyway, the hyena interest has broadened and deepened. Friends who visit can be asked to watch hyena documentaries on You Tube (decline, and he goes into a silent funk). Or perhaps now, to join us on a planned first post-Lockdown trip an hour’s drive from here to the city of Augsburg, where he has discovered (oh no!), the zoo has hyenas.

If I don’t get my hair cut before then, they may greet me as a currently rather shoulderless one of their own.

On Miles Davis and leadership, enabling teams

In the first degree, the new release documentary on visionary American trumpeter and bandleader Miles Davis is a music film. But it also offers a remarkable insight into how to motivate, inspire and work creatively with teams.

 In fact, “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” is probably worthwhile viewing for anyone with a role, responsibility, or simple interest in the development of others.

Davis is the black music icon whose late-’40s “Birth of the Cool” sessions ‘cooled’ the frenetic rhythms and complex harmonies of Bebop, the foundation of what we think of today as modern jazz. From the late 50s, he made a series of large ensemble records including the Spanish-tinged “Sketches of Spain”, long before the term World Music was coined. As the ’60s became the ’70s, he was in on the ground floor of jazz-rock and related fusion forms.

Davis, who died in ’91, was interested in the whole process of creative awareness, in how individuals open up to both their inner possibilities and those of the surrounding environment. Herbie Hancock, pianist in Davis’ so-called Second Great Quintet, tells Stanley Nelson’s camera: “‘Don’t lean on what you know’. What he was looking for was the stuff you don’t know.”

Davis led by example. Yet his ‘example’ was never the prescriptive, ‘Do like me’. It was, as musicologist Tammy L. Kernodle explains, “‘Do you, be you’”. More precisely, perhaps, become you.

The group dynamic went something like this: ‘If I do this, what will you do?’ Or better: ‘What can I say musically — what can I play? — that will enable you to find your way forward, in your own voice’. A lot of the time, Davis himself didn’t say much, his inflected language marked by a certain “m” and “f”-lettered adjectival monotony. But the meaning of his words, at least those we hear in the film, seems utterly clear. And he could be ghoulishly funny, the same adjective having different meanings depending on the context.

Fascinating in how Davis’ musicians became more like themselves, was that their contributions were unique to the collective project — to the particular ‘here and now’. Dave Liebman, another of Davis’ sidemen has said: “Almost to the man, most of us played a certain way with Miles that we never played again. Somehow he got you to do what he needed … and what you wanted.”

Nelson’s film features excerpts from Davis’s co-written autobiography spoken by an actor in Davis’ signature rasping whisper. Arriving with musical sketches to record “Kind of Blue”, an unalloyed masterpiece that is today the biggest-selling album in the history of jazz, Davis says: “I knew that if you’ve got great musicians, they would deal with the situation and play beyond what is there and above where they think they can.” For John Coltrane, the most important post-war saxophonist after Charlie Parker, “that was the door he needed to find his own identity,” Kernodle says.

So was Davis, clearly something of a Shamanic figure, so exceptional in his ability to activate talent, that there’s not much there for the rest of us to learn from? Certainly, he was one of contemporary music’s greatest visionaries. The way he ‘cooled’ Bebop, and the distinct personal sound he developed as part of that process, took him, as the critic John Clare described it, as close to pure originality as is possible in most art-forms.

But his broader, more earthly lesson was that as a team-playing leader, he had the self-awareness and confidence to believe in the liberating power of ‘the other’. He brought into his groups young musicians with attitude (black and white) not because they were like him, or conformed to some standardised ‘company package’, but because they were not and they did not.

In the language of personal development, he had a “growth mindset” (the phrase is US psychologist, Carol Dweck’s). He cultivated a formidable sense of what a given collective might be capable of, what the “complementarities” of a group of creative people, with attitude, might look like. Coltrane is the most famous example, whose maximalism threw Davis’ feline minimalism into stark relief.

Miles believed in both inward-looking reflective practice — “Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself” — and looking outwards, trusting one’s intuition and judgement. “You can get a direction like that when you see the right people,” he once said. “You automatically know that’s for you, y’know? In a matter of seconds.”

The regrettable in Miles, to put it mildly, lies in what “Birth of the Cool” shows of how he could be brutal towards his wives and girlfriends, some of whom mercifully speak for themselves in the film. Their compassion is remarkable. But it’s evident that, for Miles Davis, leading and working with teams, meant working and leading with men.  

Nelson doesn’t psychologise. But we learn that the little boy Miles witnessed domestic violence in the family home. We hear how, unprovoked, he was badly beaten over the head by a cop outside a New York club where he was playing in the late ’50s. His crime appears to have been smoking a cigarette. That he had just accompanied a white woman to her car, may not have helped.

* “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” opens in UK and German cinemas this week, French release will be soon.


Birth of the Cool, 1949
Workin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet, 1956
Milestones, 1958
Kind of Blue, 1959
Sketches of Spain, 1960
Four and More, 1964
Miles Smiles, 1966
In a Silent Way, 1969
It’s About That Time, 1969
Bitches Brew, 1970
Agharta, 1975
We Want Miles, 1982
Decoy, 1984
Music from Siesta (with Marcus Miller), 1987

On the central American migrant caravan

Central American migrants amassed on the US-Mexican border have shown the limits of the “deterrence” argument on migration variously used in Europe, Australia and the US, and it is that when governments show sympathy to asylum-seekers, migrant arrivals dramatically rise.

The false contention is that they not only invite the problem, they create it — effectively putting boats in the water, calling would-be wolves to the national gates (“stone cold criminals” and “drug dealers”, according to US president, Donald Trump).

Australia has used the argument to justify the punitive, cruel and deceitful “Pacific Solution”, that shunts asylum-seekers including poly-traumatised children into cramped and unhygienic centres for long periods on remote islands.

And it was widely deployed against German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she opened her arms to thousands of asylum-seekers congregated on a train platform in Budapest in 2015. A humanitarian catastrophe in Europe was narrowly avoided but instead of recognition for moral courage, Merkel was blamed for the crisis, ex-post facto — as if standing for a selfie in a Berlin refugee shelter triggered the surging millions fleeing the brutality of Syria.

The migrants now in Tijuana, mostly from Honduras Guatemala and El Salvador, must know that the White House incumbent is an anti-immigrant crusader for “zero tolerance”, criminalising border-crossings and separating children from their parents. They probably also know that he uses race, as he does national origin; religion; one’s sexuality and able body (or not), like superiority tropes to sew division in an attempt to bring people ‘on side’ — including from groups he marginalises, in fact.

But none of this, not the sheer physical and emotional challenge, not Trump baring his teeth at the Midterms — not the tear gas — has stopped thousands of desperate people from making the long and arduous journey north.

And that is the rub.

As ever with refugees, the story has been one of suffering, of people leaping from bridges, of tearful parents losing children in the throng. Secondary but worth noting, is that Trump’s callous politicking evokes the syllogism made known by the British Yes Prime Minister television sitcom. If my dog has four legs, and my cat has four legs, therefore my dog is a cat. Honduras has a drug problem, Hondurans are the caravan, so drug dealers will descend on the US like rain.

It’s a nasty bit of nonsense in the face of the extremely complicated problem of mass migration and it ought to repel Trump’s god-fearing base.

Seen from Munich, the caravan recalls the bedraggled humanity that struggled along the so-called Balkan route three years ago, when hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers arrived from life-disfiguring conflicts in the Middle East, notably Syria, and specifically the 20,000 who arrived at Central Station from Budapest on the first weekend of September, 2015.

The caravan also reminds one of the general exploitation of the migrant in European public debate currently — on the political extremes, yes, but more worryingly on the mainstream right. We’ve seen it in France, more recently in Austria and Italy, and in two German regional elections last month, though there with a glimmer of hope because the opportunism in Bavaria was so blatant — the Premier referring to “asylum-tourism” — that the reactionary conservative campaign came a cropper.

In the US, Trump’s response has been to defend the use of tear gas on women and children; deploy the language of warfare against people still a month’s footslog from the US, and have border troops erect “beautiful barbed wire” — to see little kids impaled upon it? He’s flagged cutting financial aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, when it’s precisely aid that addresses the underlying causes of mass migration in the first place.

Such a hard-line on both development aid and border control does not stop mass migration — so much for the hoary old “deterrence” argument. But it does drive desperate asylum-seekers into the arms of people-smugglers. And it is they, of course, the true predatory wolves.

On the Oktoberfest

Among the big planetary parties, the annual Oktoberfest in Munich has perhaps the most impressive constellation of worldwide siblings, with mini-fests now established in places as far afield as Sydney, Mexico City and Santa Catarina in Brazil.

The proud parent event, which opened on the weekend and runs until 7 October, is Europe’s biggest festival of any kind — organisers call it a “folk festival”. A staggering 6 million people attend in just over two weeks.

Of the 6 million, about 15% or 900,000 were foreign revellers in 2014 — the most recent figures available — some 7%, or 63,000, were Australian. That’s no small beer given that only 8% came from across the border in Austria, about an hour’s drive from here, and 4% from France, which of course also shares a border with Germany. Americans were the largest group of foreigners, at 10%, according to market research commissioned by the City of Munich.

“You meet people and the usual barriers just drop,” says Georg Veit, a theatre lighting designer who has worked at La Scala, Italy’s famous opera house, and with Spain’s La Fura dels Baus company at the Sydney Opera House. “It’s great to come as a single. Or you might sit with some Bavarian couple who don’t say much at first and then open right up! There’s no (exchange of) telephone numbers or anything like that. It’s absolutely of the moment.”

Georg, 50 — Goxl to his friends — is at the Oktoberfest 13 days ’n nights some years, and has been quoted by the German media as a fine connoisseur of the event.

“Everybody lets their hair down,” he says, ensconced in the famous Hacker-Pschorr beer tent. Enough to be dancing on tables in their thousands when things reach full swing. Suddenly, the informality rivals what we think of as fairly habitual in Australia, Canada or the UK.

But among 600,000 visitors on the busiest days, between 30 beer tents — including 14 hangar-like “mega-tents” — the novice can feel quickly disoriented, especially if just arrived from abroad kitted out and chafing in traditional leather shorts (Lederhosen), or trussed-up in the traditional dress (Dirndl), with no table booking or local smarts.

And it’s not just the madding millions. Everything about the Oktoberfest, or Wiesn as the locals call it (pronounced: VEE-zn), startles by its size, across 42 hectares with seating for 119,000. There are 151 fair ground attractions, and approximately a kilometre of urinals. In a recent sample year, 2016, Bavarian Labor Department figures said 6.6 million litres of beer were served, usually in the Bavarian litre-glass or “Mass” (Maß); 366,876 chickens consumed; 67, 227 pork knuckles and precisely 28, 377kg of roast almonds.

“The first week is much less crowded than the second,” Goxl advises. “On the Monday (through) Wednesday the tents are walk-through even in the evenings”. This is particularly true of the Hofbräu Tent — one of the biggest, with capacity for 10,000 including the outside beer garden, and where the proportion of international visitors is nearer to 25 or 30%.

The Augustiner Tent is more traditional, known for its traditional Oompah music and its beer, perhaps the Munich lager, still brewed in wooden kegs. Founded in 1328, Augustiner-Bräu famously does not advertise — on television (brewers are allowed to by law in Germany), or in the press or even on public transport. Just via the brewery trucks dotted around the streets of Munich.

The Hacker-Pschorr Tent is the most-photographed with a child-like blue sky and white cloud ceiling, designed by Oscar-winning set designer Rolf Zehetbauer (who did The Neverending Story, Ingmar Bergman’s The Serpent’s Egg — filmed in Munich — and Bob Fosse’s Cabaret, for which he won the Academy Award).

Among the other mega-tents, The Schottenhamel, founded in 1867, is every year the place of the festival opening when the Mayor of Munich “taps” the first keg, to the boom of a dozen canons. Käfers, looking more like a ski-lodge than a tent, is for VIPs and the chic set — the stars of the Bayern Munich football team attend in Lederhosen with their wives and girlfriends. Entry can be difficult if you “don’t know someone”, Goxl says, but an “aftershow” outside til the wee hours is for everyone. The beer and the champagne flow.

As the Bavarians say, “Nur ein Schwein trinkt allein” — only a pig drinks along. And at the Oktoberfest, it seems, nobody ever does.

On Catherine Deneuve and #MeToo

Smiling, her eyes alive, French actress Catherine Deneuve stepped graciously from a dark car on the Champs-Elysées. Already of a certain age, as the French elegantly describe it, her heart seemed to leap with the riotous white of a bouquet of roses offered by a suitor in the crowd. This was the official film of the 2012 Paris Olympic Games bid, and when Paris eventually lost to London to host the games, the film was blamed for being Old Hat.

Yet for an Anglo-Saxon, it mirrored the romance of Arthurian poetry (la femme on a pedestal), and the Romantic period (love is more heart than head), with a touch of 16th century French poétesse, Louise Labé: “Kiss me; kiss; kiss me again the first line and title of her most famous sonnet.

Catherine Deneuve the mysterious — Deneuve the transgressive — whose controversial letter signed with 99 French women this week, criticised the #MeToo movement for “puritanism”. Well, she had long ago entered my catalogue of extraordinary Gallic women, joining Simone de Beauvoir of the “The Second Sex” — the title politically incorrect today —  Françoise Giroud, co-founder of French newsweekly L’Express, and Elisabeth Badinter, alongside Julia Kristeva, Simone Veil and later, Juliette Binoche, among others.

Badinter’s book “XY: On Masculine Identity”, explored the possibility of non Rambo-type role models for men, which seemed far more relevant to me than the so-called Men’s Movement around US poet Robert Bly, urging that males paint themselves and run through the scrub or sit nude and screaming on the couch to reconnect with their animal side.

De Beauvoir’s opus felt like a line from John Irving, “If life is a forest, women are the trees”, because it put the words of a highly articulate, humanist woman, on subjects like women and “The Mother”; women “In Love”; women and “Sexual Initiation”; “The Married Woman” and “Prostitutes and hetaeras”, in a way that educated men, too. And Françoise Giroud? Well, she trounced tousled French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy in a best-selling series of dialogues, called simply, “Men and Women”. In an interview to promote the book with a correspondent from The Times of London, clearly in thrall to her, she cautioned against harbouring illusions. “Women can be as cold as ice,” she told him, “with barbed wire in their hearts”.

The French adjective for this all would be romanesque — novel-like or novelistic — but the common thread is the way women and men interact, a very French subject and pastime.

Anyone who has lived in Paris for any length of time, can vouch for la différence; or at least, this difference in everyday life. It’s evident in the sense of public display and preening in the streets, a long promenade through which ranks as one of the peak experiences of modern urban life, as Australian art critic Robert Hughes described it.

Also the French are generally more relaxed about the human body than Anglo-Americans — about its discrete veiling, or unveiling, depending on how you look at it. This is why the windows of Paris chemist shops can, well, set the ordinary male pulse racing.

How to keep a lid on the rage one feels at the physical abuse of women? Which was the first preoccupation of the #MeToo movement. As the father of a girl still blissfully free of adult problems but showing the first signs of adolescence, one thinks of Ingmar Bergman’s film The Virgin Spring where the father, in a blind fury, shatters the bones of his daughter’s assailants against cave rocks like chickens. Better to say: those who commit rape or sexual assault should face judicial proceedings, as the former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar did this week and movie producer Harvey Weinstein surely must.

But it remains true that women in France are à priori less suspicious of men; French men more broadly interested in women. In the Anglo cultures, and especially in the litigious US, mutual resentment has reached such levels that a solitary man, we’re told, can be scared to share a lift with a woman and vice-versa — her because of sexual harassment, he because of a possible sexual harassment case. This is an awful situation for a society to be in, non?

Ms Deneuve ultimately symbolises the view that something of our better selves continues to reside in contact with the opposite sex. For seeing her letter in these terms, I’m sure I would have her respect. I hope that I would also have her opponents’.

On Munich heavy rock and metal

Heavy metal? In conservative Munich? Yes, a relatively small but veritable, varicoloured scene. And it’s no surprise, says Randy M. Salo, a Munich-based documentary-maker pointing at a thick book on an office table in front of him. Looks like a government report, I remark. Well, it’s conference papers about heavy metal, he says, drawn from a recent gathering in Helsinki that explored the link between the rich world and the “counter-proposition of metal”.

Born into a Baptist family in South Carolina, Randy moved to wealthy Munich in 2011, not long out of film school in New York and something of a progressive metal bass-player himself. I know my Jaco Pastorius, I think of telling him. But instead tell him I’m a Miles-Trane freak — Miles Davis 1969-75 (adjudging it judicious to quantify) — then to Hendrix; James Brown; Sly Stone; Karlheinz Stockhausen and his trumpet-playing son Markus, by the way, whose god-gifted sound gives me goose bumps … And John Coltrane? Well, there was something ‘thrash’ in the animism of his music after 1965 — like waves breaking on a glorious shore. Here we reach the limits of our shared musical ground, but it’s been a nice contact. He promises to email a list of Munich bands.

The spirituality in the material he signals (check out the cover art of Heretoirs “The Circle”), has clearly sprung from fields of sound to which Coltrane’s animism, let alone Markus Stockhausen’s clean-line trumpet, would never take me (nor for that matter would his sometime record company, Munich-based ECM). But there is, man, a mothering white guitar player, as Miles might have said, in Randy’s film of a skate punk group called Straightline, that stands my ear on end. A priori, it’s not my thing, but so what? The guitarist-singer, called just Bart, plays lines that motor — forceful, intense, mordantly inventive. He tells Randy’s camera he started out playing jazz.

I take this Straightline to the stoner rock cum groove metal of GodsgroundSmoke the Sky (its fans known as “sky-suckers”) and fuzz box three-piece Swan Valley Heights; to the catchy experimentalism of Majmoon (pronounced: My-moon); Mr Serious and the Groove Monkeys — by now we’re a long way from metal — and the ambient post-rock of Pictures From Nadira, whose appealing self-titled debut album, released end-2016, plays as a continuous set. Miles’ “Panagea” flashes to mind — it must be that alliterating “a” — because these pictures have more in common with Tortoise’s “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” (especially the second track, Glass Museum). This I first heard in Adelaide, Australia’s protestant, God-fearing city. It was 1996 and I’d bought “Millions now living”, with its low-cost cover of stencilled fish (to feed the millions?), because listed among the year’s best by clued-up British music magazine, The Wire.

At Munich’s hardtack end, Hailstone sound to me like Real McCoy traditional metal, though proudly bill themselves as “melodic death metal”. To the uninitiated, the word ‘melodic’ — taken from the way certain Gothenburg Swedes inflected “death metal” in the ’90s — stretches the term, given the unrelenting bass drum “blast beats” and growling, Cookie Monster vocals. Heretoir, of the startling cover-art — what is it about Germanic culture and the forest? — typically combine translucent guitar and layered harmonies, with a devouring, ear-shredding vocal. But I’ll admit to a weakness for the last album’s most consonant track, “Golden Dust”, where vocalist David Conrad switches to vocals chant-like and clean.

The Munich metal scene undergoes the usual ups-and-downs, like any minority music, but is active, collegial and pretty well-organised, with numerous venues, two decent-sized festivals and a dizzying array of sub-genres. Randy tells me a “retro” brand of stoner metal, “doom, very analogue”, is currently popular. We’ve met again, this time for lunch in the retro “Baader Café”, a vast rectilinear stockpile of cassette tapes behind the counter to the right as you enter. As in other places where Metal is strong, like much of Scandinavia, the genre’s vehement ferocity equals rebellion against the nice life normalcy of a city with full unemployment and good wages, so plenty of spending money for gigs, recordings and all that archly boy’s club “merch” beloved of metal heads: caps, “zippers” (actually just tops with zippers), exploding head t-shirts and the like.

I look for Straightline’s album “Vanishing Values” around the corner from my apartment in a tiny record shop called Public Possession, access from the adjacent skateboard retailer is literally through a hole in the wall. Here an outsized black and white sign plonked in the middle of the floor reads: “Reasons for joining? None.” An earlier sign had read: “We went out of business years ago”. Occasionally, I’ve seen groups of people hanging out drinking in the street in the evenings or on Saturday afternoon, apparently connected to both the skateboards and the vinyl.

I moved to Munich almost three years ago, after 17 in Paris, and have come to see the Bavarian capital as a series of counter-propositions: seven state-subsidised orchestras and a metal scene; FC Bayern, the silver-tail football team, and Munich 1860, purportedly the working man’s club. Rich, yes, but largely without ostentation, Munich took 20,000 asylum-seekers in a single weekend at the top of the EU refugee crisis in September 2015, that’s the number then-British PM David Cameron pledged to take over five years. Sleek, Munich-made BMWs glide noiselessly down city streets that smell of cow shit — or can do, as my Franco-German wife had warned me. I was open-mouthed at hearing this, until one breezy, blue sky morning, the rarified effluvium actually touched my nostrils, and the back of my throat (well, my mouth was open). For the record, it was at the corner of Baaderstraße and Buttermelcherstraße in the trendy Glockenbach quarter. Pre-high tech, pre-big finance, Munich travelled the rural road to Bavaria’s first-stage post-war wealth, atop the cow, and particularly, the pig.

“Vanishing Values”, when I finally get it home, leaps from the speakers and takes a hold of my throat. Full-on, the best of it — a track called “Holy Wars” — features Bart’s guitar furiously soloing on an arpeggio played very fast. But it’s there and it’s gone. I reckon Miles would have had him play longer.

“The Munich metal scene is bigger than I thought it would be when I first arrived,” Randy tells me. His production company plans to keep the Munich Unsigned tag, but is branching out into non-Munich bands under the FreqsTV moniker. Both are on You Tube. Randy wants to grow the firm, he says, take it global, while staying, like so many of us now in the Bavarian capital, resolutely international local.

Getting rocked & metalled in Munich

Selections from the more poetic end of local bands above

Pictures from Nadira

Album: Nadira
Track: Rijl Al Awa


Album: The Circle
Track: Golden Dust

Swan Valley Heights

Album: Swan Valley Heights
Track: Alaska