Interview de Atlantropa Project EN le 11/02/2018
Neoprog has been impressed by the work done on Atlantropa Project concept album. A good opportunity to put light on the artists hiding behind this project.

Laurent : hello everybody. First how are you? And what can we wish you for this
brand new year?

Atlantropa Project : We are very well and first we would like to thank you that you give us the opportunity to tell something about us and our work on the Atlantropa-Project. We are very proud of it and therefore we are lucky now that it is finally released. For new year, we hope to get even more positive resonance for the album as we already had, which was great by now. And even more important, we would love to tour as much as possible in 2018.

Laurent : we can see only 'Atlantropa Project' as a title, in reference to Herman Sörgel project. There is no real group name we can identify. Or perhaps Atlantropa Project is the group name too. How do you explain it ? Don't you consider yourselves as a group, although Waniyetula group history seems to be linked to that project ?

Atlantropa Project : In 2010 we reunited Waniyetula after nearly 30 years for a little clubtour. And after that tour, which was great fun for all participants and fans, we decided to go on with the band and to release a new album. But none of the musicians wanted to produce an average album with 12 more or less different tracks. There should be a unique sound and a clear spirit, which represents the individual talents of all musicians in the band. Therefore we decided to create a concept album with an overall theme and we were intensively looking for that theme for a while. And so we discovered Hermann Sörgel and his fascinating Atlantropa ideas. As a reference to him we called our project simply The Atlantropa Project and left it with that. But that does not mean, that Waniyetula is over. Definitely we will revitalize Waniyetula in the next months and are looking for material for a new album. And to answer your question : yes, we are a band and not only a group of musicians with a one project perspective.

Laurent : for this album there are twelve persons playing and singing, and we believe total involved persons for this concept album is far more important. Could you identify and describe the importance and the role that major persons play in this concept album ?

Atlantropa Project : In the beginning there were six former members of Waniyetula who started the project. That was Richard Kersten, Wahrmut Sobainsky, Michael “Wolle“ Wollesky, Ralph Brandmüller, Lothar Krell and Heinz Kühne. All of them took part in the collection of musical ideas and motifs and integrated some of their own already existing compositions in the new overall concept. Heinz and Lothar supervised the whole production and put all the details together.
Very soon it became clear, that the requirements of the compositions and arrangements need external support. Michael and Elinor had been contacted and joined the project. Both of them had been working with some of the members of the group before and enjoyed the Atlantropa-Project from the very first moment. In their studios in Bad Homburg and Langen, Heinz and Lothar meanwhile assembled the music and the songs, integrated particular instruments, the solo parts and the vocals. The several tracks had been recorded in different places all over Europe and in the end all of them (partly more than 100 tracks for one song) had been put together in Heinz´ Spot-Tonstudio in Bad Homburg.

Atlantropa Project

Laurent : you have produced two versions of the album: one native (german) version, and an english one (the one Neoprog reviewed). Lyrics are in english on both versions, only the spoken parts have been translated. Can you explain these choices ?

Atlantropa Project : The narratives, which should explain in form of a poem what Atlantropa means and who Hermann Sörgel was, written by Peter Voss, who also translated the narratives, are, as you stated, either in english or in german.
We wanted to keep the songs in english, because it transports the ‘soul’ of the idea of Atlantropa, which means much more than the language in which the songs are sung. It is international and has to do with an idea which is bigger than an average lifetime and the individual significance for one nation or the other.

Laurent : how did you come to sign with Progressive Promotion Records ?

Atlantropa Project : We´ve been working a very long time in the music business and we know what really counts. The people at PPR understood exactly what we intended and accepted the needs of a complex production like that. After the first conversation with Oliver Wenzler we knew that he and his company are the people who will support our music best. We are quite sure, that this is only the beginning of our cooperation and that we soon can expect more fine results of it.

Laurent : coming back to the persons/members involved in this album, could you mention for each a special or funny thing - related to music - they like?

Atlantropa Project : There were a lot of things happening which might have been funny in the long run of a production like that. But you wonʼt keep in mind, and you can`t recall, so many other things had been much more important in the meantime. Sorry that we can´t answer this question.

Laurent : what music do you all listen ? Of course you play your own music, but do you have some groups/music you particularly refer to, or see as inspiring ?

Atlantropa Project : Everybody in the band has its individual taste. That is one of the reasons for the rich diversity of the Atlantropa Project and our musical cooperation. But of course there are a lot of bands and musicians who influenced and inspired us or who we simply love - Bands like the early Genesis, Peter Gabriel solo, Yes, Gentle Giant, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush just to mention a few and never to forget Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, Toto, and the genius himself Frank Zappa.

Laurent : about this project and your music, how would you describe it in short words to someone who never heard it? What makes it unique according to you?

Atlantropa Project : As you know, it is very hard to explain music to someone without listening to it. Just give that exemplary listener you mentioned the Record and let him find out what it could possibly mean to him without any explanations in advance. Our music is so full of surprises and uncommon and rarely heard musical solutions, you never know what to expect and what comes next. Some will love it right away and others will not. And that is the way it should be.

Laurent : to be quite honest we did not know the existence of this real Atlantropa Project before listening to this album. Superlative words are even not adapted to describe this tremendous project. How did come the idea to make an album based on this project ? What made you chose this topic ? Or did you have several ideas/projects in mind and chose Atlantropa Project ?

Atlantropa Project : Our Intention was to create a real concept album like the ones in the early days, e.g. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway or Sgt. Pepper or Tommy just to mention a few of the most famous.
And then we started to look for a theme, which might convince everybody in the band and we found Sörgel and Atlantropa. That was an idea as big as the flight to the moon, which has become reality only a few decades later.
Even that Atlantropa never had a real chance to be realized, didnʼt disturb us, because for us it was the idea, the dream of one man and the huge energy that Sörgel and his followers put into this project, that fascinated all of us right away.
Of course there had also been some other ideas, maybe even better ones and maybe one of our next projects will focus on one of them.

Laurent : can you say a few words about the album genesis? How long did it take? What were the mains steps? What were the main challenges and how did you solve them? How did you structure all titles ideas and coordinate all together?

Atlantropa Project : In 2012 the idea for the album was born. In 2014 we started working on it continuously. Elinor and Michael, the vocalists, knew Heinz from former projects. All the other members of the band have been completely new to them. But in the progress of working for the Atlantropa-Project the band grew together more and more. That was not as easy as it sounds. Michael for instance lives and works in London. We have sent him the demos of the songs and he recorded his part in London. We totally left the interpretation of the vocals up to him. No supervision was needed, we never had any doubts on his high professional excellence as a singer and a producer of himself. And we are very lucky with the results.
Elinor is a brilliant musician, she understands the music and our intentions right away and gave her part of the vocals the class and intensity we were looking for.
Meanwhile Lothar and Heinz jammed in the studio in Bad Homburg nearly during the whole production period and created musical bridges, flow of tracks and some of the solo parts.
They even tried out and tested all sounds again and again to find the best results. In the end the puzzle was merged together. It has been a very special moment when the finished production was presented to all members of the band for the very first time.

Laurent : when hearing titles and reading the booklet we could even say that this album has a rock opera flavor, although there is not one dedicated voice per character: first there is a story narrator. Then Herman Sörgel speaks ('The Plan', 'Star Atlantropa'), there are kind of warnings of a big cavernous voice (God ?) in 'The Great Maker'. Populations (Europeans ? Africans ?), after being euphoric ('Time to Bid Goodbye'), just question the real intentions ('When we all speak Atlantropan', 'It's time for new dreams'), uncertainties and consequences of these huge plans ('They want to steal the Ocean') and debate with the engineers ('Walk across the Sea'). We may think that Earth is talking too ('Mare Nostrum dream'). What do you think ?

Atlantropa Project : That is a very nice interpretation, thank you, you really got the essence.
But rock opera, don´t know, not even flavor. And you are right, we don´t have one voice per character as in an opera, and we also don´t have an ongoing story, with a story line or a plot or a hero, like in Tommy. All the speakers or singers above represent opinions, different points of view, statements, pros and cons, featured by unnamed voices. It is not ‘God’ and it is not the ‘Earth’ which can be heard, they are simply part of a musical collage with different approaches to one common theme. And you should not take all of those statements too serious, esp. ‘Mare Nostrum Dream’ or ‘Star Atlantropa’ : Richard, who wrote the lyrics, has a fine sense of humour.

Laurent : after reading booklet and listening to the whole album several times, the mains words which come to mind are richness and diversity. Richness of the themes treated by the complexity of Sörgel's project, richness of the music due to lots of rhythms, arrangements, instruments, with a special mention to keyboards sounds banks and sound design. And diversity of the ambiances and feelings - from mysterious fear to solar enthusiasm - at the image of this mad project which gives the feeling that finally everything is always more complex that it seems, and that nothing is really all black or all white. What are your thoughts about that ? Can you say more words about the keyboards and sound design which play a major role in your music ?

Atlantropa Project : You´re right, everything in the Atlantropa production is very ambigous.
Nothing is what it seems to be in first sight. That´s how it was meant to be. One should take its time to find out what makes this record so special and we hope that a lot of people will have the patience to do it.
They will be very surprised about it.

Productionwise we worked in 2 steps:
Step 1:
There were the musical pieces itself.
First Lothar used the well known keyboard sounds like in a lot of ‘traditional’ progrock productions. And then he implemented some quite new and widely unknown sounds and effects to all of them.
Step 2:
The narrative parts.
It was very important for him to catch the atmosphere and provide the narratives with a sound support, that is linked to the content of the words and to the content and sound of the following song and the one before.
Lothar created sound patterns which are commonly used in movie scores and in this case he was very lucky not to be forced into given song structures.
He used this chance for huge experimentations with the electronic equipment in order to create totally new sounds.

Atlantropa Project

Laurent : how was it to write rhymed lyrics, moreover not in native language ?

Atlantropa Project : Richard, who wrote all the lyrics, is originally from Liverpool and a very experienced songwriter and Michael, the singer, lives and runs a well known Wapping Press recording studio in London since 1990. He modified and improved the words to songs whenever necessary.

Laurent : let's now project into the future. What are your plans for the future ? Some gigs ? Some special events or tour ?

Atlantropa Project : There will be a new video in june. We will meet Michael in London for that purpose soon. Then we are planning a tour asap and preparing a new album.
Lot of work. Lot of fun.

Laurent : last question is a no question. It's an open tribune for you. Feel free to say and add whatever you want.

Atlantropa Project : We want to answer this question with a quotation of a line in a song of Steven Wilson, which he has recorded with Porcupine Tree : “One of the wonders of the world is dying and no-one cares enough.“ - You will know what he means, we all know, it is the music which is dying according to his opinion and we think that he is absolutely right.
It is not the music in the Hitparade and not the shopping music in all the malls in the world and not even the music in most FM Radio stations he wants to save. It is his music and it is ours too, music with quality, virtuosity, ideas, new sounds and true contents in words and music.
Recently we heard that more than 30 % of the live music clubs in London are closed now and the figures in other big cities all over Europe are not very far from that. This is not a problem for big business productions and acts but a disaster for upcoming bands with new sounds and new ideas who need an open minded and well educated audience to be successful in a hopefully not so far future.
Therefore we hope that a lot of people would listen to our Atlantropa-Project and that we will have the chance to promote it as its best and live.
The media can help us a lot to get in contact with an audience who loves authentic and true handmade music in order to save it.
Thank you very much for your support.

Laurent : thank you very much for the time spent to answer our questions.
Danke schön.

Photos Ortwin Rave and Wahrmut Sobainsky.

Rédigé par Laurent le 11/02/2018