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Weird Journeys

by Volker Lankow

Run! 05:04
Remote Areas 21:22


The starting point of Volker Lankow's ”Weird Journeys“ are memories of travels, journeys, paths, being on the road with Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan, Sudan, and Somalia, Countries that might have been "exotic" to a tourist 50 years earlier, but their perception in Volker's memory is completely imbued with tension, nervousness, danger.

The cover of the digital album shows a beautiful setting, Kabul from above, a brilliant morning in the city. Unfortunately, appearances are often deceptive. This asymmetry, the seemingly incongruous can be felt in the tracks, when again and again a warning sound intrudes into a previously almost harmonious ambience.

"The thoughts and memories that accompanied me in the production of this album go back to my work with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the field. It's about movements, about going from place to place. The journey by car or plane, the tension of a car ride from Bagdad Airport to Mansour, a neighborhood in Bagdad. Actually a normal trip, unfortunately at that time (until today) in this once beautiful city it was not a normal thing to move on a road that many consider to be one of the most dangerous in the world. Booby traps, ambushes, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. One pretends to be calm, but inside is filled with anxiety, restlessness, eyes everywhere.

I felt similar when I worked for an organization in Kandahar City/Afghanistan. Arriving at a large airport that is 90% percent military, where bombers, drones, Apache helicopters are constantly taking off and landing, and where one corner of the airport is designated for civilian aircraft. This place shows how active/virulent/current/alive the war in Afghanistan is. Getting out of the airport area, driving 40 km on a road to Kandahar where civilian cars are forced to dodge military convoys and pull over to the side of the road, where there is a danger of driving onto booby traps, above you planes dropping flares/distractions because the pilots noticed suspicious movements, having to rely completely on the driver's experience, all of this was a straining experience for me.

An hour of stress in the car, whether on the road to Kandahar, or standing in a traffic jam in the morning rush hour in Bagdad or Kabul. This means not only boredom or wasting time, but inner tension nerves strained to the limit; fear of nervous security forces, of attacks on checkpoints, etc., or when you feel the pressure on your ears in the car because a car bomb explodes one or two streets away (as experienced in Kabul in 2010).

I remember many journeys on bad roads with vehicles, which are on the way as mobile clinics, in Darfur or South Sudan, in order to bring medical assistance to people in need, - all this in beautiful, clear weather with bright blue sky, which promises joy. In many parts of the world this beauty is secondary, the clear sky can even mean danger.

And again and again checkpoints, suspicious militias, policemen, rebels on dusty and broken roads … It is difficult for me to describe these memories with words, but I can express them in my music. To relive the images, the moods, the tension, maybe to convey some of it."


released March 21, 2021

Volker Lankow: Soundscapes and drones
Recorded and produced by Volker Lankow

Photo by Volker Lankow; approaching Kabul by plane


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Volker Lankow Berlin, Germany

Percussionist since the late seventies, Volker Lankow lives in Berlin, plays and collaborates in many diverse projects, such as together with Bernhard Wöstheinrich, Wolfgang Spahn, David Rothenberg, to name a few.
Volker works on many Solo projects, using percussion instruments and electronics, to develop his own vison of experimental sounds, drones and world music.
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