Ingrid Schmoliner
Elena Kakaliagou


  • Ingrid Schmoliner — prepared piano, voice
  • Elena Kakaliagou — french horn, vocals

“Whispering, Drones, Whiches and a Funeral March…”

Corvo Records’ new LP + download release NABELÓSE shows Austrian prepared piano virtuoso and yodeler INGRID SCHMOLINER and the french horn player ELENA KAKALIAGOU from Greece, putting their hands and voices on traditional folk music from both countries.

Ingrid Schmoliner moves between the genres of new music, improvised music, free jazz, and folk music. Teaming up with the member of Zeitkratzer, RANK Ensemble, PARA, and Zinc & Copper Elena Kakaliagou, they form a Duo that creates dark interpretations of ancient songs and tales from mountains and the sea.

The LP comes with download code and in lavish gatefold cover!



LP, 140g Vinyl + digital download
43:32 min
300 hand numbered copies
core 012


  • Recorded at Alte Gerberei, St.Johann in Tirol, Austria by Charles Wienand in June 2016
  • Mixed and mastered by Alexander Yannilos
  • Sleeve artwork by Wendelin Büchler
  • Kindly supported by BKA Österreich
  • Elena would like to dedicate this album to her father.
  • Ingrid dedicates this music to deep female friendships, the women from the mountains, to Nieves, Marlene, Marlies, Elena and to her mother.
  • Special thanks to Karin, Cornelia and Hans, Charles, Alex and Wendelin.

Some praise…

“Nabelóse certainly reaches new heights of subtle atmospherics…”
— The Sound Projector (UK)

“I can honestly say I’ve never heard anything quite like this… It’s a spellbinding, cathartic combination of beauty and discomfort”
— Decoder (USA)

Nabelóse ist ein magisches, berührendes Album… Elena Kakaliagou/Ingrid Schmoliner beherrschen die Liedform auf ergreifende Art und Weise”
— Skug (AT)

“Nabelóse” è un lavoro profondamente suggestivo, struggente direi, e foriero di una spiritualità antica.”
— Sounds And Silence ZINE (IT)

“Schmoliner and Kakaliagou make pastoral music dusted with cold ash from old fires, tickled beneath the chin with woolen blankets.”
— A Closer Listen (USA)

“A surprising album.”
— Vital Weekly (NL)

“So haben wir es in Wahrheit mit einem brillanten, die Tiefe, die Stille und die Emotion nicht scheuenden Bluesalbum zu tun, das auch international seinesgleichen sucht.”
— freistil (AT)

“Kakaliagou, als bloße Zeitkratzer-Bläserin offenbar unterschätzt, geht der Diaspora-Blues von den Lippen wie bitterer Honig.”
— Bay Alchemy (DE)

“Motivi folk legati sia alla Grecia che all’area Alpina, facendo perno sulla capacità di entrambe nello sfruttare con modalità decisamente fuori dall’ordinario i propri strumenti.”
— Darkroom Magazine (IT)

„I would call it delicate, but it‘s the delicacy of a very still lake at night, with ripples only barely audible along the shore, and there‘s no light so you can‘t completely differentiate the horizon and the water.
And there‘s an ancient myth monster that sleeps in the lake.”
— Andrew Choate (USA)


With vocals and instruments mic’d so closely that the speakers bead with sweat, the duo of Ingrid Schmoliner, responsible for prepared piano and yodeling, and French horn player Elena Kaliagou, repurpose traditional folk music from their native countries—Austria and Greece, respectively. The tone is solemn; a rosy hue spots the ghostlike pallor of its improvised dirges. Frigid, funerary, dank, Nabelóse trails kelp and lichen, weaving elements of earth and water, blanched for winter cellars. Whispered moans cloud with every breath, soaked with loamy snow. While the French horn bleats in fallow fields, the piano plinks or bows in dull quivers. Schmoliner and Kakaliagou make pastoral music dusted with cold ash from old fires, tickled beneath the chin with woolen blankets.
— Todd Gruel, A Closer Listen

Nabelóse, released by Berlin-based sound art label Corvo Records, is a collaboration between Austrian prepared piano virtuoso/yodeler Ingrid Schmoliner and Greek French horn player Elena Kakaliagou, breathing new life into traditional folk songs from both artists’ native countries. If this description piques your curiosity (as it did mine), you are hereby encouraged to get your hands on the LP sooner than later because at 300 hand-numbered copies, it seems destined for scarcity.

The opening track, “To Be Given Up / Γιάννη μου το μαντήλι σου,” begins with a slow, plaintive melody from Kakaliagou’s French horn while a bowed string from Schmoliner’s prepared piano sings out an open A. The drone intensifies gradually and the horn weaves around it: up a minor second, and then settling in unison, the tension-and-release evoking alternating feelings of dread and acceptance.

Around seven minutes in, we finally hear a voice: full-bodied yet light, like a radiant bloom springing forth from the sound world defined by the two instrumental elements. Sung in Greek and based on a traditional folk song from Epirus (an area along the border between Greece and Albania),”To Be Given Up” is about ‘xenitia‘ — the emotional state of one in exile; of being far from home and not being able to come back.


The second track, “Frau im Berg,” is an Austrian funeral march full of pagan images of cleansing, rebirth, and the dissolution of time and space. Here, Schmoliner’s yodeling is foregrounded. Most familiar to American audiences, perhaps, from the sing-song yodeling introduced to country music by German, Swiss, and Austrian immigrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries, traditional yodeling is an extended vocal technique characterized by an oscillation between head and chest voice which originated in the mountains of Europe and Central Asia where the sound could play off a natural echo. In “Frau im Berg,” Schmoliner’s yodeling is rapid-fire and commanding, reminding me a bit of the nasally flutters of Devendra Banhart’s voice on songs like “See Saw,” or the staccato cries of Yoko Ono’s avant vocal masterpiece “Fly.”

Side B begins with “Goldgefüllter Lippenrand,” a Steve Reich-esque piano composition accompanied by a soft, percussive popping and French horn swells that build in intensity, eventually giving way to the kind of sputtering, farty sounds that make junior high band directors question their life choices. It’s a playful track that blends tightly composed structures with expressive improvisation, revealing a deeper range of possibilities for this instrumentation.

“Schlangenfrau” delves even further into this expanded range. The insistent piano is here again, this time tonally altered, with the percussive pops sweeping through like a woodpecker versed in spirit rapping. The voice and horn are both muffled and strange, wrapping around the spine of the prepared piano liked the gauzy cries of ghosts (some of whom, once again, are farting). This is the most experimental track on the album, and it sets the stage for “Nabelóse / Βάρκα μου μπογιατισμένη,” the final, and title track. A traditional song from the coastal shores of Greece, the lyrics reveal fragmented, dreamlike images of water, the Madonna, and a boat that has been painted, but has not yet been out to sea. Dramatic and spare, this is Schmoliner and Kakaliagou at their most emotionally resonant. About halfway through the song, the horn begins to cry like a whimpering dog, and soon a bowed piano string starts crying alongside it. I can honestly say I’ve never heard anything quite like this — my favorite sentence to type in an album review. It’s a spellbinding, cathartic combination of beauty and discomfort, a stunning climax for a record that seems to be about investigating textures as much as it is about loneliness, longing, and the inevitable drift of history.
— Emily Pothast, Decoder Magazine


Nei suoi sette anni di attività, la berlinese Corvo Records ha dato ampia dimostrazione del proprio coraggio nel proporre artisti e suoni propensi all’avanguardismo ed alla sperimentazione, e quindi non per tutti. Non fa eccezione questa nuova uscita, che vede collaborare l’austriaca Ingrid Schmoliner (voce, prepared piano) e la greco/austriaca Elena Kakaliagou (voce, corno francese), entrambe già presenti in numerosi altri progetti collaborativi e con all’attivo diversi riconoscimenti anche da parte delle massime istituzioni locali. L’intento delle due artiste, a seguito del tempo speso assieme in Tirolo, è stato quello di unire le proprie abilità per dar vita ad un ciclo di canzoni basate su storie e motivi folk legati sia alla Grecia che all’area Alpina, facendo perno sulla capacità di entrambe nello sfruttare con modalità decisamente fuori dall’ordinario i propri strumenti. Realizzato soltanto in vinile con lussuosa confezione apribile e codice per il download (per soli 300 esemplari numerati a mano), l’album si apre con “To Be Given Up”: il corno francese, usato in lungo e in largo con fare simil-dronico, si muove come una lieve brezza su cui mormorano suoni squisitamente mediterranei, col cantato della Kakaliagou ad incarnare come si conviene la tradizione ellenica. Ancor più sottile “Frau Im Berg”, dove la voce della Schmoliner spinge verso toni sperimentali, mentre sullo sfondo appaiono timide abrasioni ed il piano emana note sparse, diventando per contro protagonista in “Goldgefullter Lippenrand” col suo motivo ossessivo, su uno sfondo delineato dal corno in cui campeggiano bordature noisy. Lo scampanio incessante di “Schlangenfrau” si colora di voci stralunate e rumori di fondo, mentre con la conclusiva title-track torna il cantato tradizionale della brava Elena, sorretto da basi di corno ancor più minimali. Non certo un lavoro di facile fruizione, ma senz’altro lodevole nel suo voler unire tradizione ed avanguardismo attraverso la comunione d’intenti di due artiste di indubbio spessore.
— Roberto Filippozzi, Darkroom Magazine


What Kristina Fuchs and her companions did with ‘Linden’, taking old Dutch folk tunes as a starting point for improvisation, so do Schmoliner and Kakaliagou with their project ‘Nabelöse’. Intheir case they use old Greek and Austrian folk tunes and tales. This duo started their collaboration in February 2016 during a shared artist in residence stay in St.Johann, Austria. This stay turned out very fruitful and already in June 2016 they recorded material in St. Johann that is now released by the Berlin-based label Corvo. Schmoliner and Kakaliagou know each already for many years. Both are part of the trio PARA. Both are active in a variety of projects on improvised and contemporary music. The opening track ‘To be given up‘ opens with a very long, slowed down intro before Kakaliagou starts to sing a Greek ‘bluesy’ song.

A very fine and delicate interaction between Kakaliagou on French horn and Schmoliner on prepared piano. Also the title track ‘Nabelöse’ is based on a Greek song and is of a similar beauty. Both ‘Goldgefühlter Lippenrand’ and ‘Schlangenfrau’, have repetitive patterns played by piano and prepared piano at the core.
Supplemented by sparse improvisations on French horn and voice, that remains at some distance. With their extended techniques they create very soulful music, showing that the sound spectrums of French horn and (prepared) piano, make a beautiful combination. Although the music unfolds on an abstract level, melody and song-format are continuously suggested in most of the
improvisations. A surprising album.
— DM, Vital Weekly


Den ursprünglichen Impuls für diese letzten Endes prächtige Platte gab die Musik Kultur St. Johann/T mit der Einladung von Ingrid Schmoliner & Elena Kakaliagou als Artists in Residence des Festivals artacts ’16. In dreiwöchiger Arbeit vor Ort beschäftigten sich die beiden Musikerinnen mit der Erstellung eines Liederzyklus, der auf Traditionals der beiden Herkunftsländer, Kärnten & Griechenland, Bezug nehmen sollte. Live wurde dieses Vorhaben bereits blendend umgesetzt, ein Grund mehr, nochmals nach Tirol zu fahren, um das erarbeitete Liedgut im Studio einzuspielen bzw. von Sir Charles Wienand plattentauglich aufnehmen zu lassen.

Basierend auf Folksongs regional differenter, charakterlich verwandter, melancholischer Ausprägung, hat die Hornistin und Vokalistin/Sängerin Kakaliagou zwei Kompositionen beigesteuert, To be given up sowie das Titelstück Nabelóse, auf das Konto der Pianistin und Vokalistin/Jodlerin Schmoliner gehen ihrerseits die drei Stücke Frau im Berg, Goldgefüllter Lippenrand und Schlangenfrau. Es ist hier nicht genügend Platz für die Darstellung der textlichen Liedinhalte. Soviel Platz muss aber sein, um auf die heftige Intensität, die Formschönheit und den Geniestreich beider Protagonistinnen im emanzipatorischen, unter die Haut gehenden Umgang mit Volksmusiken hinzuweisen. So haben wir es in Wahrheit mit einem brillanten, die Tiefe, die Stille und die Emotion nicht scheuenden Bluesalbum zu tun, das auch international seinesgleichen sucht.

Ein so privates wie starkes, so politisches wie fragiles Dokument, das mit enormer Sogwirkung die Echos der Vergangenheit aufspürt, um sie in der Gegenwart zukunftstauglich, also berührend zu interpretieren.
— felix, freistil


Fünf Lieder nur, aber sie nehmen insgeheim gefangen, entführen in eine mythologische (Sagen-)Welt, die in der Vergangenheit ankert und doch so gegenwärtig klingt. Damit das Eintauchen in diesen jen- und diesseitigen Kosmos gelingt, eröffnet »To Be Given Up« gleich 13:28 Minuten lang. Berückend schön klingt es aus dem Inneren von Ingrid Schmoliners Klavier und Elena Kakaliagous lang angehaltene Waldhorntöne summen fort wie in Ewigkeit. Wenn dann noch ihre Stimme anhebt, ist dieses griechische Volkslied gänzlich in einer ureigenen Klanggestalt angekommen. Im anschließenden »Frau im Berg« wird die Stimme konkreter, statt Entrücktheit ist ein vehementes Gurren und eine Art Waldhorn-Loop zu vernehmen. »Frau im Wagen, spann deinen Wagen. Mit Ei, Brot und Schlamm«. Erst in der zweiten Hälfte setzen wohlgesetzte Tastenklänge am präparierten Piano ein. Diese läuten zum Ende hin verfremdet scheinbar wie Glocken. Ein Totengesang aus alpinen Zonen.

Die B-Seite wartet mit perlenden Pianosaiten-Glissandi auf. »Goldgefüllter Lippenrand« setzt einem Gewässer, das vielleicht Mühlen in Betrieb setzt, ein tönendes Denkmal. Im darauffolgenden »Schlangenfrau« wird scheinbar warmer Dampf, der aus einem Urschlund steigt, symbolisiert, mit kraftvollem, atonal klingendem Tastenanschlag. Den wundersamen, gleichzeitig beunruhigenden Abschluss bildet »Nabelóse«. Im Meisterwerk, das auf einem griechischen Volkslied basiert, spricht die Protagonistin zu einem bemalten Boot, zu einer fremden Gestalt und spendet wehklagend einem verlassenen Waisenkind Trost. Die Vokalisen klingen unheimlich, haben aber wie die verzagten und bedrohlichen Waldhorn- und präparierten Pianosounds eine innere Schönheit. Es ist eine Erzählung über das Meer, über das Verlassen des Zuhauses, das Empfinden von Fremdsein und Sehnsucht. Ein melancholischer Ausklang, der noch am ehesten in Erinnerung ruft, dass hier zwei ausgewiesene Improvisationsmusikerinnen erhabene Klänge für die Ewigkeit meißelten.

Die Aufnahmen für dieses Album fanden übrigens in der Alten Gerberei St. Johann in Tirol, Hort des Artact-Festivals, statt. Betörender wurden alte Traditionals und Sagen aus dem Alpenland und vom Mittelmeer kaum jemals vertont. Die Platte, nur in 300 Stück Auflage erschienen, verlangt sofort danach, wieder auf die A-Seite umgedreht zu werden. Der Widerhall von Elena Kakaliagous French Horn und die sich damit verzahnenden, kaum erkennbar präparierten Pianostringtöne machen sicher: »Nabelóse« ist ein magisches, berührendes Album.
— Alfred Pranzl, Skug — Journal für Musik


Die österreichische Metapianistin und die griechische Waldhornistin stimmen unerwartet dunkle und althergebracht klingende Lieder an. Ja, nicht nur Töne, Lieder, das bekannte, schon von Chalkias Lakis und Eleftheria Arvanitaki angestimmte ‘Giánni mou to mantíli sou’ aus Epirus, von Patmos und den Kykladen ‘Varka mou bogiatismeni’, das Giorgos Batis schon 1935 aufgenommen und Martha Frintzila, a capella, unvergesslich gemacht hat. Giánni lebt in Xenitia, in der Fremde, und fünf Flüsse bringen den fremden Schmutz nicht aus seinem Taschentuch. Auch das Herz derer ist schwarz, deren Boot nicht schwimmt, mit Hilfe der Madonna soll denen die Hose zerreißen, die Waisen im Stich lassen. Wenn Schmoliner als ‘Frau im Berg’ sich vor den Karren span-n-n-n-nt, belädt sie ihn mit Eiern, Brot und Schlamm. Das Horn tutet dazu trist und monoton, aber auch feierlich und urig, Saiten sirren wie elektrorasiert. Kakaliagou, als bloße Zeitkratzer-Bläserin offenbar unterschätzt, geht der Diaspora-Blues von den Lippen wie bitterer Honig. Schmoliner singt gewagter, ihre Frau zittert vor Hunger und Frost, das Horn ein einziges Fauchen und Brummen, das Piano windschief verstimmt. ‘Goldgefüllter Lippenrand’ kreist als pingendes Windrädchen, das Horn küsst dazu mit Goldmund. Die ‘Schlangenfrau’ tanzt zu Röhrenglockendingdong, Kakaliagou zischt, blubbert und zungenredet mykenisch. ‘Varka mou bogiatismeni’ aber betet sie zag zu ominös dröhnendem Piano und beklemmtem, wie eine Robbe heulendem Horn.
Die Beklemmung überträgt sich durch und durch. Trister kann ein Marienlied kaum klingen.
— Bad Alchemy 94 rbd


Squeye: Where the Squint Retakes the Eye

I’m surprised there’s not a specific word that exists to describe the phenomena of something small making a sound bigger than itself, or the phenomena’s counterpart: something gigantic making a sound so small that the sound portends of fathomless distances between what is seen versus what is understood.
On this new duo recording by Ingrid Schmoliner and Elena Kakaliagou, folk songs abound and blur, becoming improvised music. Improvised music becomes hymnal. Small sounds scare big ones; huge sounds are defined by squeaks at the edge.

Rattles and spirals, pops and echoes, breaths and strikes: the backbone of this music. This music is composed of sounds that resonate bone deep, played with the level of sophisticated virtuosity that Schmoliner and Kakaliagou possess, enacting an entirely otherworldly evocation of the inner landscape.

I would call it delicate, but it’s the delicacy of a very still lake at night, with ripples only barely audible along the shore, and there’s no light so you can’t completely differentiate the horizon and the water. And there’s an ancient myth monster that sleeps in the lake. Still, I would call it delicate. Ferocity is there, under the lake, inherent in the tones and interactions between these musicians. This is ferocity made fang-explicit, at several crucial moments on the album.

Schmoliner’s rhythmic sequencing of piano preparations––blunted axe-handles, ever-ringing overtones, perky cinnamon swizzles––leaves no room for uncommitted ideas. She’s a sword swallower who savors the taste of complete commitment.
Kakaliagou, equally, has developed a clarity of melancholy for the French horn to revel in. Her sound is not a brash championship drillbit but a long pour of heavy liquid and breath. If something gets scratched in the process, she has the teeth to soothe.

Both women use their voices on this recording––from folk yodels that become chamber harmonics, to physical groans that become improvised touchstones––and boy do we need these voices at this time.

The sounds are bigger than their being, and the being is so big it can only make a small sound.
— Andrew Choate, October 2016


A completare una trilogia veramente imperdibile c’è “Nabelóse” di Ingrid Schmoliner e Elena Kakaliagou. Della pianista austriaca ci eravamo già occupati mentre è la prima volta che incontriamo il nome della strumentista greca che le fa da contraltare al corno francese. In questa collaborazione le due musiciste rielaborano temi delle rispettive tradizioni popolari (tre per la prima e due per la seconda) affrontandoli, oltre che strumentalmente, anche vocalmente. “Nabelóse” è un lavoro profondamente suggestivo, struggente direi, e foriero di una spiritualità antica.
I tre vinili sono accompagnati dal link per lo scarico digitale.La Corvo Records, con la sua scelta di pubblicare solo vinili in forma di piccoli oggetti d’arte e in edizione limitata (tutti e tre i dischi sono stampati in 300 copie numerate a mano), manifesta volutamente un evidente snobismo. Loro ne saranno orgogliosi e noi ne siamo felici.
— Mario Biserni, Sound And Silence ZINE


The latest release from German limited-edition art-object vinyl label Corvo Records is by Ingrid Schmoliner and Elena Kakaliagou. I think Nabelóse (CORE 012) arrived in the same package as Gilles Aubry’s And Who Sees The Mystery, noted here. Elena Kakaliagou is a French horn player who is a member of Zeitkratzer, so we may have heard her performances by default on one or more of the many releases from this prolific neo-classical Ensemble, but she also plays in the RANK Ensemble. Piano player Ingrid Schmoliner is also a vocalist. They’re also two-thirds of PARA, and we’ve encountered them before on the 2012 para-ligo record, along with bassist Thomas Stempkowski, when Stuart Marshall noted the “achingly subtle atmospherics” which is one of their hallmarks.

Nabelóse certainly reaches new heights of subtle atmospherics, but the music this time is arranged around ideas and inspiration taken from Greek and Austrian folk songs, and folk stories. Both artists have thus brought their respective personal nationalities into play. There may also be subtexts and narratives to do with women and their place in society. I don’t feel qualified to say too much on this feminist theme, although at least two of the pieces here have women as central figures; in the title track, a very symbol-laden epic tale, an apparition of the Madonna is key to the whole story. ‘Frau Im Berg’ – translated as ‘woman in the mountain’ – is a funeral march piece which draws on everyday household objects as symbols for the cycle of life and death, mortality and rebirth: eggs, bread, and mud.

Another key theme is strangeness and exile. This strand is most clearly articulated in the lengthy ‘To Be Given Up’, where the hero is a man who can’t ever go home again. The sadness of his plight is expressed as a dirty handkerchief that can’t be washed clean; in fact it pollutes the very river it’s washed in. No English folk song I know has ever come up with such a potent and poignant metaphor for alienation. You’ll find more such metaphors in the title track ‘Nabelóse’, where pain, distance and alienation are mainly transmitted in terms of water and a painted boat.

I’m only able to tell you any of this because I was sent a printed press sheet with annotations, translations, and other useful contextual information. The meanings of these folk songs and stories are not directly communicated by Ingrid Schmoliner and Elena Kakaliagou on Nabelóse. There are vocal sounds, for sure, but I don’t think either of them ever gets so far as to utter a single recognisable word. Instead, the pieces are conveyed through low-key modern music, very abstract, quiet, and brittle. The funeral march in ‘Frau Im Berg’, for instance, is only suggested by the regular French Horn measures of Kakaliagou. There may be some attempt to convey the nature of the ocean in the ‘Nabelóse’ story, but it’s hard to discern. The cold and distant approach taken by this duo probably works best when applied to the themes of desolation and bleakness that are contained in the exile story. After hearing this one, you too will feel homeless and adrift in an uncaring world.

The other two pieces, ‘Goldgefüllter Lippenrand’ and ‘Schlangenfrau’ are not included in the annotations and I don’t know if they connect directly to the theme. They are instrumental pieces of severe modernism – prepared piano making unnatural sounds, breathy horn tones, highly subdued playing, a very delicate beauty. ‘Goldgefüllter Lippenrand’ has the serial arpeggios of a Reich or a Glass, only performed in a very restricted and stern fashion. ‘Schlangenfrau’ combines the percussive rattles of the prepared piano with free-form vocal purrs and whispers, the voice resembling a cross between a chicken and a snake.

I’m assuming most of the folk elements here come from Schmoliner, who is credited here as moving “between the genres of new music, improvised music, free jazz and folk music.” Not to deny any of that, but I think on this record at least it’s more accurate to say that elements of folk music have been subjugated to the need for experimentation – newness wins out over tradition. Things I tend to associate with folk songs – clarity, directness, narrative – have been sacrificed in favour of this very open-ended abstraction 1. Wendelin Büchler’s cover art tries to restore a little of that narrative, homing in on the symbols found in the stories. From 20th March 2017.

  1. But I am basing this opinion on English folk song and ballads, and the records of such singers as Shirley Collins, Bob Davenport, Isla Cameron and others. Greek and Austrian folk scholarship is not my strong suit!

— Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector

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