The music of Karla Wenzel aka Kiki Bohemia is a constant balancing act. It oscillates between power and intimacy, without ever settling on either of these poles. It’s this mix of nonchalance and big dramatic gestures that makes her music so special.
Over the years her live performances have undergone a continuous evolution. In the beginning Bohemia played psychedelic folk-miniatures with a loop station, organ and dictaphone. Over time her concerts have become more extravagant and her pieces more hypnotic creating performances somewhere between real time composition and psychedelic Krautpop.
„All the beautiful“, Kiki Bohemia’s debut album, came out in 2008 on the label Matrosenblau. For her second album, „Those Are Not Songs“, she has allowed herself 15 years. „Those Are Not Songs“ starts with a lie. For these are not just songs which Bohemia has collected here, it is no less than great song-writing. When disarmingly simple melodies emerge from a dirty base, when a piece soars into a refrain, it shines in all its splendor. But there is always another side to see, ambiguity and doubt are ever present.
Bohemia plays with the dialectic of proximity and distance, resilience and vulnerability with great mastery. Sometimes she sings as if revealing the most intimate secrets. Then she distances herself, becomes unapproachable and cool. She makes no secret of her inclination towards the morbid. Nor does she hide her enjoyment of exhaustion, catharsis, and hymns.
The opener „Mundane“ builds up and holds tension, without ever releasing it. „To The Wonder“ sounds like a downtempo-manifesto in the form of sound and melody. Prehistoric synthesizers, drum-computers and cello shape „Lonely People“. „Zodiac“ develops with tentative care to tell its story. Maybe there is some truth in the album title „Those Are Not Songs“. For if you look closely, they are not predictable pieces, rather disclose a creative process in which we can participate in the development. Like a living resonance chamber which starts to vibrate between two uncertainties.
Born in east Berlin, Karla Wenzel grew up in a family of musicians. Her bedroom as a child was above the home studio. She gathered her first stage experience as a dancer and extra in theater productions including with the Berliner Ensemble and Maxim Gorki Theater. She has worked as a studio and touring musician with Arlo Guthrie and Billy Bragg. Since 2005 she has been appearing as Kiki Bohemia, producing and releasing her own material. She is musical partners with Tobias Vethake aka Sicker Man. Together they work on compositions for theater, radio plays, installations and film including for the likes of Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf, DLF, WDR, Bar 25. For the daily livestream series „Cleansing Drones for Locked Down Homes“ in spring 2020 they played improvised concerts for 56 consecutive days which were broadcast and recorded directly on social media. Kiki Bohemia is one half of the duo Slutty Clowns and member of the celebrated neo-kraut-band Trialogos.