In an attempt to describe their new record, Kai Lehmann, singer and songwriter of Dresden based group Garda, compares it to a gorilla. He uses attributes such as noble, sad and hounded and indeed, there really aren’t any more suitable adjectives. The record, just like the animal, creates an urge to stare at it again and again.
The new material rises above the band’s original folk context, condensing into complex formations, densely woven and majestic. Ballads shatter on walls of noise. Fragile guitar picking unexpectedly unfolds into seemingly electronic drum beats, angular piano, softly hovering guitars, brass, and cello. The frequent use of lap steel and pedal steel guitars rarely evokes contemporary alt-country romanticism, tying shimmering, abstract webs instead.
It certainly wasn’t any easy record to make. About two years ago, Lehmann wrote what he thought would become “A Heart Of A Pro” in a shack high up in the Austrian Alps only to discard all but one song before the next rehearsal session had even begun. The countless concerts for their debut “Die, Technique, Die!“ had turned the loose collective of musicians behind Garda into a proper band and, despite its relative success and a re-release in Japan via Moorworks , no one was keen on replicating that record. They were looking for an unused aesthetic. When the songs were finally written, the band spend six months in the studio to arrange and record it.
The dynamics and the force behind their live shows has been captured in these recordings at Hotel Albert Studios and the mastering of Doug van Sloun (Omaha/Nebraska, Bright Eyes, Cursive,…). Once more, mixing was provided by Christian “Wuschi” Ebert (The Robocop Kraus, The Green Apple Sea). Again, friends and relatives such as Markus Altmann on Cello or members of the traditional Ore Mountains brass band “Oederaner Blasmusikanten” make an appearance on “A Heart Of A Pro”.
Lyrically, the album is concerned with the topography of a breaking relationship and the sudden death of a close relative. Songs act as spotlights on the separating paths of two persons and the time it takes them to fully disentangle. Maritime imagery and themes are used to describe a feeling of being „caught in the undertow of mistakes“, as the title track puts it. And the feeling lasts until the astonishing beauty of the final track “00:00” rises above a thicket of analogue reverb and grinding cymbals and its protagonist rows out into the foggy night.