After finally seeing the stop motion video “Me” by Asp on YouTube (I never actually came to the idea of looking for it – I just found it by accident, while searching another song for my mother), I found the next band, I want to present to you. (Actually I never intended to write so much about music, but actually music is one of my passions – maybe I should think about a template and better formating for this music sections 😉 ).
So first of all here is the video I was talking about:
This ingenious piece of art was produced by the band Asp. Asp is a German Gothic rock band, that was founded by the mastermind Alexander Frank Spreng (Asp), together with his friends Matthias Ambré (Matze), Andreas Gross (Tossi) and Oliver Himmighoffen (Himmi) in 1999.
The name Asp actually was the sign of Alexander Spreng, when he was working for a school newspaper. It is by the way pronounced as word, and not as the letters A S P. This is a common mistake made by new fans, and when they finally find out, they feel strange about it and can’t change it (that’s why I’m telling you – I made that mistake myself 😉 ).
The music is quite alternating, some songs are more soft, some are hard and heavy. There are fast songs, songs with screaming and growling, sung songs. Even the instrumentation changes a lot. All in all it is a mixture of classic gothic rock, electronic music, and classic instruments (acoustic guitar, piano, violin). Some songs even have a background choir.
But most of the songs have following instrumentation: Singing, guitar, e-bass, and drums.
Their first songs on their promo cd where “Schwarzer Schmetterling“, “Sing Child” and “Teach me war”. They did not have to wait long for a label, and so in 2000 their first album “Hast Du mich vermisst?” entered the stores. 2001 there was the second album :duett.
After having some concerts with other Gothic bands like “L’Âme Immortelle” (I will definitely write about them in another post! 😉 ), Janus and Chamber (with which Asp still does a lot together), there came out an EP in 2002, containing remixed versions of the :duette Album by those artists, and others. But that is not all. Soon many other Gothic bands gathered around Asp and made remixes with them, like “Samsas Traum”, “Unheilig”, “Blutengel”, etc. This, and the fact, that Asp produces ingenious music led to real fast famousness in the Gothic subculture.
Asp would not be Asp, if this stopped them producing music. Nearly every year a new album was produced, and now the band is looking back at 8 albums, 8 E.P.s, and 10 singles, all of them high quality artworks.
The band itself likes to call its music “Gothic Novel Rock”, because they have a strong connection to literature. This becomes more obvious when you look at the first 5 Albums. They all cover the story about the famous “Black Butterfly”. So most people that just dig into the music of Asp have a lot of questions about who or what the “Black Butterfly” actually is, as it seems to be a mysterious metaphor – a strange creature that sometimes is described as a a good most of the time a bad character.
Actually Asp was asked the same things a lot of times, but he rarely gives any information. For everybody the Black Butterfly could mean something else, and Asp doesn’t want to spoil this by telling what it actually should mean.
But if we look into the songs and listen carefully we come up with the fact that there is a person that has a split personality. On the one side he is Asp, a good but weak person. On the other side he is the Black Butterfly, an evil creature that tries to pull Asp to his side, while Asp himself struggles resisting that evil creature.
So from this point of knowledge there are many interpretations, that fans have. Some just take it literately and see the every day’s struggle between the good and the bad side that is in every person. Another interpretation I have heard is that the Black Butterfly is actually love (because many songs also deal with love, and even though the Black Butterfly is evil on the one side, he is also something that Asp could not live without, and there are also songs showing the Black Butterfly as something good (which on the other side could also be interpreted as persuasion)).
Another interpretation could be mental illnesses like “multiple personality disorder”, “schizophrenia” or “Borderline personality disorder”.
And yet there are still a lot of other possibilities.
Beside this story of the black butterfly, which actually is described in the first 5 albums (“Hast Du Mich Vermisst”, “:duett”, “Weltunter”, “Aus der Tiefe” and “Requiembrio”), there are also songs with deeper political meanings. The best example is “Ich bin ein wahrer Satan“, which can be interpreted as song against religious power, wars, and even racism. Another one is “Hässlich“, which criticises the people that only care about their outer beauty but that are ugly when it comes to their inner values. Or “Sag nein!“, which is definitely a song against racism.
What makes Asp special as well is that each of their albums is a real piece of art. You can really feel how much work was put into it to make something special. This starts with the content of the cds itself. The songs have great lyrics, great music in really good quality, which is manifold, and has really deeply meaningful lyrics. The still the cd is not only a collection of some new songs they produced. It is a piece where each and every song has its position by purpose. While hearing the cd, you really get the feeling of hearing a beginning which is like an introduction, a main part in the middle and an ending. And at the end you feel like reading a book – having completed a story.
But it does not stop there. The albums come along with a really complex artwork, containing lyrics and pictures which fit thematically to the songs – most of them photos of Asp that are digitally remastered.
The fans really get the feeling that Asp cares about them. There are a lot of collectible cds. Many of them not even that expensive (some of the special cds, that are only available on concerts start with 10€, which today sadly is a rarity). Once there was a collectible cd, which you could get for free with voucher that could be collected in the singles. After this, the cd was destroyed so that it could not be sold by anyone else, and now has a special value for all those lucky to possess one.
Knowing what the fans want, Asp is totally against the new copyright laws. To demonstrate this, all their albums don’t have any copy protections, and one of their singles was sold together with a free cd recordable, so you could copy the single and give it to your friends for free. In their online shop they also sell covers for your own Asp compilation cd, that you can burn yourself. And they have a download shop, where you can get the songs in high mp3 quality for a really competitive price, drm free!
Also they published their video ME on their website for free download. They did it because before it was only available on a cd of Asp, why people started sharing it over YouTube. As Asp did not like the bad quality it is now available for free download in good quality.
Beside these activities, Asp tries to have strong fan contact by supporting two fan clubs, where they answer questions on the forums. And every year there is a barbecue evening for all club members together with Asp.
Now, after finishing the Black Butterfly Tale everybody is curious about what will come next. Even Asp did not think about it yet. After finishing the Black Butterfly, they started to small projects, the first one was the first official Best-of double cd, with all the old songs remastered and rerecorded. The second project is still not released. It is a number of songs on the Story “Krabat” (sorry, but the English name for it is horrible!) by “Ottfried Preußler”. They actually started it in 2006, before knowing that there will also be a movie that by accident is released in the same year. So these two things have actually nothing in common!
Part of these songs where already released in singles and on albums. But the main part is till unknown.
So I hope I made you curious now, so let’s look for some songs:
Schwarzer Schmetterling [Hast Du Mich Vermisst?] with this one everything started.
Und wir tanzten (ungeschickte Liebesbriefe) [Hast Du Mich Vermisst?]
Die kleine Balade vom schwarzen Schmetterling [:duett]
Welcome [Weltunter] This one is in English!
Ich will brennen [Weltunter]
Stille der Nacht [Weltunter]
Die Ruhe vor dem Sturm [Weltunter]
Werben [Aus der Tiefe] <– Great song, especially the violin solo!
Me [Aus der Tiefe] This one is in English!
Sage Nein! [Aus der Tiefe]
Ich bin ein wahrer Satan [Requiembrio]
Schwarzer Schmetterling (Necrolog) [Requiembrio]
Nie mehr! [Requiembrio]
Here you can download the song Me in a better version.