Europe’s music scene is as colourful and diverse as the continent’s habitants. Luckily not only the big pop cultural centres like London, Berlin and Paris provide important impulses for the European pop music but also multitude of Bands from Austria emerge powerfully into the European radio stations and Spotify playlists. Especially the 2005 founded group “Bilderbuch” from upper Austria which established itself dynamically since their 2014 EP “Feinste Seide” gains popularity through their novel sound among large parts of the european youth.
The group surrounding frontman Maurice Ernst is largely considered being the most innovative German-speaking group as the four boys never fail to surprise and impress their increasing fanbase with every new album. Bilderbuch’s unique sound meanders effortless among more than 5 decades of music. Their dadaistic lightness complemented with unconventional and complex song structures can seem naïve and playful which sadly often leads to an ignorance of the political statements that can be found in some Bilderbuch songs, albeit transcribed in the group’s very own language. This language includes unusual linguistic pictures mostly young people are able to decipher. Bilderbuch is indeed a band who works hard within their possibilities as artists to contribute to a positive impact on the world. The cover of their newest publication “Vernissage My Heart” features a quote by the cover artist: “You find yourself in a magical land to perform as many deeds of kindness as possible.”. Maurice Ernst describes his song writing as thorough observations of his surroundings and works according to the principle that “all good pop music should provide a comment regarding the present”.
And Bilderbuch happen to make good pop music. Exceptionally good pop music. Following their own principles, the band commented passionately on Europe in their 2019 published song “Europa 22”. Ernst describes the unrestricted drive on a European motorway, there are no borders and one is free to travel wherever one wants. “Ein Leben ohne Grenzen/ Eine Freedom zu verschenken/ Eine Freiheit nicht zu denken/ I better open my eyes/ Ich mach die Augen auf”, this is the songs chorus that appeals to us as the audience to finally appreciate the incredible freedom we were born in. Bilderbuch wants us to perceive this “magical wonderland” we take for granted far to often. According to frontman Maurice Ernst Europe is the best heritage one could wish for and we are obliged to nourish and spread the idea of countries being peacefully united in a big union. He wants to accentuate all the great features of our European society and spread some positive vibes concerning this big and sometimes complicated construct.
In honour of Europe (and also to promote their new album) Bilderbuch started an unconventional promo action: on their website https://www.bilderbuch-musik.at/ is a link to a webpage where everyone can create his or her own European Passport https://bilderbucheuropa.love/ to “be part of the European Family”. Right before the European Parliament elections in May 2019 these well-designed fake documents where a great means to promote the European idea, a chance many politicians and celebrities like Martin Schulz (SPD) and Jan Böhmermann ( German TV host) took.
But not everyone shares the positive vibes Bilderbuch try to spread. Via Twitter there were also numerous critics who conceive the song’s message as shallow and excluding. Or as Twitter user @DerJaZ puts it: "Ich will nicht hinter einem von Lobbyismus geprägten Konstrukt [sic] stehen, das seine Außengrenzen mit Gewalt verteidigt." Racism and Nationalism cannot be treated through the EU; critics wish for a world citizen passport. Against those pundits Ernst accentuates once again that they simply want to spread the great idea of the European Union rather than excluding other countries, Bilderbuch wanted to create a sense of unity without ostracism.
Bilderbuch is a band with a unique and very clever tone, in musical arrangements and topics. They are a great example of a European band that develops without the need of local categories. Bilderbuch does not follow the great Austrian tradition of music, the group is neither Mozart nor Falco nor part of the “Austropop” movement, they are simply a European band that is aware of its privileges. They live in our diverse Europe and they love this Europe. Or as Maurice Ernst puts it: “Europa is’ so leiwand!”