With Unsolved Remained Masha Qrella now releases her second solo album. Her debut Luck (which for many soon became one of the most important new indie releases of the season) was conceived as a surprise, prepared in secret. But this time surely some friends of her music are holding their breath already, anticipating these new songs.
Masha herself had plenty to do in between Luck and Unsolved Remained: When Luck came out Masha already represented an indispensable presence, attitude and a distinctive sound within the Berlin music scene, as guitarist/bassist of the melancholic instrumental band Contriva and as keyboardist of the equally wordless, but more hyper Mina. Meanwhile she co-founded NMFarner, another band, and was involved in two more releases, the Contriva album If you had stayed and NMFarner`s Die Stadt. She played many concerts, solo and with her bands, and went on tour frequently (including as support for Sonic Youth, Blumfeld and Calexico). So she was pretty busy.
And somehow, in the studio, at home between tours, at the sound check, working on remixes and after her concerts Masha wrote on her solo project, the intense, warm, rough, playful, and at times even bitter Unsolved Remained, which, following Luck goes a couple of steps further.
Compared to her other projects, Masha solo is mostly concerned with amplifying those aspects of her musical output that don't originate in the dynamics of a band (which is vital in her other projects), but make audible a feeling of the private. Here memories, hopes, disappointments, joy and regret are translated into songs, which sometimes are concrete enough to be intersubjectively comprehensible, but often point poetically into the private of the singing voice and cannot be decoded directly, only be felt with intuitively. A dialogue emerges: Between Masha and the listener, between the "I" and the "you" of her lyrics, between her doubled voices on the two poles of the stereo panorama. And the question of how far the person of the songwriter reaches into the songs, how much she hides in them.
When listening to Unsolved Remained closely it becomes apparent how elegantly attention towards the smallest details in sound is coupled with a feeling for the emotional impact of the songs. Of course, this impact originates exactly in the delicate production, the complex rhythm programming, the sometimes intentionally rough, mostly subtle use of effects, sounds, rooms and the accentuated guitars between acoustic and noise. Still, the songs remain more important than any obvious demonstration of (plentifully available) production skills. Also electronic and acoustic are no antagonisms that need to be reconciled, they are equally valuable means of expression. Unsolved Remained is sophisticated in the most positive and experimental sense of the word.
With Masha, "solo" defines a personal sonic space, not a territory in need of defending, and so she involved ideas of different other musicians on this album: In addition to Norman Nitzsche (Masha's petit copain, band mate in Mina and NMFarner, und co-owner/operator of their studio Villa Kurella) who is responsible in big parts for the recording and production of Unsolved Remained, some room on this record was handed over to other musical voices as well. The snapping and crackling rhythm track on vertical destination was programmed by Berlin sound/visual-collective Rechenzentrum. Similarly, the laconically dragged out backing track of I can't tell was created in the laboratory of Swedish Henrik Johansson. Finally in the four-and-a-half minute long C.Bones a sample of ISO 68 finds itself respectfully integrated into the logic of Qrellas song writing.
Unsolved Remained individually and uniquely continues to formulate Masha Qrellas world of sound, warmer, more confident and multi-layered than its predecessor, with a production that gives these 11 songs, written by one of the most interesting songwriters of her genre, proper density as well as space.