New Music

Behind the scenes of “Adria” – the multifaceted soundscapes of ZAHN’s latest eclectic album

7 mins read

Navigating the tumultuous seas of post-modern noise rock, ZAHN, a Berlin-based trio, has crafted a sonic journey that defies the conventional.

With their latest albumAdria,” these experimental maestros transcend the expected boundaries of genre, offering an 80-minute voyage through the heart of a Europe not often sung about. This is not your quintessential ode to blissful escapades under the sun. Instead, ZAHN presents a bold escapade from the mundane, painted in the vibrant hues of post-rock, krautrock, dark jazz, noise-rock, post-punk, and electronic music.

Adria,” intriguingly, serves as a soundtrack to a non-existent 1980s anti-utopian road movie, a concept that in itself is a stark contrast to the serene images the word ‘Adria’ might conjure. It is a term synonymous with the magic of European holidays, yet here it is repurposed to evoke a journey marked by the exhaustion of long drives and the hypnotic hum of the autobahn.

The album’s creation, a collaborative effort of Chris Breuer (bass, synthesizer, drum machine, lap steel guitar), Felix Gebhard (guitars, synthesizer, bass VI, electric piano), and Nic Stockmann (drums, electronic drums), reflects a synergy of talents from diverse musical backgrounds.

Zahn by Lupus Lindemann
Zahn by Lupus Lindemann

This trio, with roots in bands like Heads., The Ocean Collective, and Einstürzende Neubauten, showcases their ability to blend seemingly disparate sounds into a cohesive whole. Their previous work was recorded in a mere two days, yet with “Adria,” they have taken a more scenic route, meticulously layering soundscapes to create a vivid auditory experience.


Tracks like “Zebra” and “Faser” display a harmonious blend of influences, from the chirping of crickets to the blending of noisy krautrock textures with math rock elements. The lead single “Idylle” could effortlessly be part of a David Lynch soundtrack, further amplifying the album’s cinematic quality.

ZAHN’s ambition stretches beyond their core trio, as the album features contributions from various musicians.

Notable guest appearances include Markus E. Lipka (Eisenvater) on “Amaranth” and Joanna Gemma Auguri on “Tabak,” adding layers of doom rock and accordion flourishes, respectively. The 5/4 rhythmic buildup in “Schmuck,” augmented by Jobst M. Feit’s guitar work, and Fabian Bremer’s synthesizer in “Idylle” exemplify the album’s textural diversity.

Recorded by Peter Voigtmann at Die Mühle Studios Gyhum and mixed and mastered by Magnus Lindberg at Redmount Studios Stockholm, “Adria” stands as a testament to the power of collaborative creation in music. The album’s cover, a visual echo of its auditory landscape, features photography by Lupus Lindemann (Kadavar) and design by Fabian Bremer (Radare, Aua).


ZAHN’s “Adria” is a truly engaging journey through the various moods and textures of modern noise rock.

For those eager to delve deeper into this auditory tapestry, a track-by-track commentary provides further insight into the intricate layers and creative processes behind each song.

Track by track commentary:


A late addition to the canon of tracks that became Adria, Zebra in a way sums up what has happened in Zahnland after the first album. Things don’t need to be heavy all the time anymore, it’s okay to hold back and let things (and a drum machine) roll for a minute. The hip hop-ish element that Chris brought in was surprising to me, but quite positively so, and I found it a logical move that Nic decided to spice things up with some merciless heavy-ass drums at the end. I was happy to add to the whole thing by sprinkling just a little granular crumble on top. A nice intro to the world of Adria.


When we play Zehn live, it’s usually after a string of rock tunes that leave no time for contemplation, not even catching some air. The intro is a welcome moment for breathing and looking around, seeing what goes on in the room. This track craves space and I really like the way we manage to fill that space. I also get to use my wah-wah pedal, which, for me, is a very satisfying component in every performance. When we turn into a gang of cavemen for that downstroke riff starting at 03:36 mins, only to throw over our velvet cocktail dresses for some faux-jazz stylings a mere minute later, I think all the money we’ve spent on our diverse record collections over the years to discover all that interesting music might have paid off after all.



This piece in all its relaxed, spacious and, dare I say, danceable form is probably the furthest we could come from the OG Zahn material. There’s a lot of interesting little things going on during the first three minutes and I’m very happy about the guitar fragments that sound wizard Jobst M. Feit brought to the table. And then the beat comes in and time loses its relevance and Schmuck just rolls and flows forever. Playing this song is like being in a warm bath with incense and candles all around and some Al Green on in the background. I swear I’ve seen audience members kissing during this. Alas, due to Zahn’s dysfunction of having to wreck every comfortable moment, we just have to hack the whole thing to pieces from the 06:40 minute mark onwards. We’re sorry!


Apricot, to me, is Adria in a nutshell. Here, nothing can rush us. If it needs time, give it time. I love how the first part turned out, I’m always waiting for someone to appear and start rapping on this, but so far it hasn’t happened. However, it’s great to be able to skip playing guitar for a while! The second part takes us into more classic Zahn territory, I get to explore the space and the rock and also twang away a bit, while my colleagues are firing on all cylinders, relentlessly driving forward. It feels like we’re climbing up a steep mountain super fast, we are mountaineering Dharma Bums, only to finally fall down again from the top – like three bags of potatoes we’re tumbling back towards the valley. A total joyride!


Faser is the longest piece of music we’ve ever made, I think, and here, too, duration is the essential factor. Again: This needs time to unfold, so we give it time. The first half of the track, to me, is a more or less harmonic marriage between Can and Motörhead, with both parties arguing over who gets to use the bathroom first in the morning and how long the eggs should boil. For the second half I’m a bit clueless with the reference points. There’s an arpeggio running all the way through, there’s a quasi-drum solo followed by a piece of riff-work that hopefully will get us some stoner rock bonus points and festival slots, but the end, including a long fade-out, still defies every categorization to me. I have no memory of how this all came together but am really glad it did.


This might appear like old school Zahn for the first minute, only to then do the time-warp to the new school of 2023. Contemplation instead of frenzy! Long after we named this track I had an epiphany: This actually is music to smoke a cigarette to. I might just try it myself one of these days. Just for a moment, though, until it’s time to head off, back to where we started, to louder shores. There’s a chord change in there somewhere that I love a lot, and at the very end I got to use Schwarzie, my trusty baritone guitar, on those power chords for some extra low-end. Which ended up sounding quite well, if I may say so myself.



To me, this is the weirdest tune on the album, but also one of my dearest. In my memory this took us quite a while to figure out and a few revisions were made until we ended up where we did. Its flow is not a thing that I would come up with myself. I love Nic’s turning around of the 6/4 beat every few bars, it’s something that he does just like that, without thinking too much about it, but I find it very sophisticated. I’m counting through the whole thing, just to make sure I don’t make any clams. Luckily, I get to break into a little tension-relieving noise at the end to shake my brain free and then we have a long outro of the most blissful ambient sound layers that I’m very much looking forward to recreating live.


This is as slow as we can go. I’ve always received a certain 1980’s southern californian vibe from Amaranth, in the sense of this Alchemy band Virulence, if anybody remembers. Another admission ticket that will get us rock festival slots, I hope. To me the first parts of the track are just foreplay to the heavy riffing that we end up executing for a long time until the end. Halfway through that we get joined by Markus Lipka, serving a platter of the most delicious psychedelic guitar soloing. Mucho gusto!


If it wasn’t for the backwards reverb, I’d feel kind of naked here in the beginning. Where I’m coming from a guitar solo is considered somewhat icky, so I’m quite happy my little endeavor only lasts for a manageable amount of bars. I’d like to point out that this intro is one of the few moments on the album where the bass is not distorted in any way. After a long build-up we dive into two of my favorite riffs on this album, first a little almost-happy fuzzy melody and then a good old Morricone-type twang situation. The song ends the way it started, us riding off into the sunset, credits rolling, fade to black, etc.



Trying to wrap my head around this piece of music has been the most frustrating musical experience ever. For a long time I just couldn’t develop a feel for its odd timing, which, I think, stems from a beat in five quarter time Nic came up with, that Chris, in mean-spirited manner, chopped up into an amputated version of a five quarter beat. During several excruciating and humiliating attempts to come up with a guitar line that did not suck I was close to quitting the band more than once. One night, during which the track’s beat had stayed stuck in my head and followed me in my dreams, Marc Ribot materialized in my bedroom in a cloud of smoke. His head was glowing and his hair stood up wildly in all directions. He wore Ray Ban Wayfarers and had a white gown on with golden borders, from which he suddenly pulled an old Telecaster guitar that looked as if someone had used it for surfing in the New York sewage system. It reeked of bilge water or something someone had digested a long time ago. Marc didn’t say anything, he just sat down and played me the riff, just like that. It all made sense all of a sudden. The next morning when I woke up, Marc had gone. I went to Peter’s studio, he pressed the record button and I put the whole thing to tape. The rest, as they say, is history.


Closing time at the hotel bar. Just a few lone figures in crumpled suits that would gladly chew off your ear – be careful to keep to yourself and not let them come too close. This track in a way wrote itself, Chris came with the basic arpeggiated thing and then everybody added to it: Peter Voigtmann and Fabian Bremer some synthesizer lines and Eberhard Stockmann provided a glorious bath of reverberating yearning saxophone – everything just fell into place. I’m quite curious myself where Zahn’s journey goes from here.

Karol Kamiński

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
Contact via [email protected]

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