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zwo3wir

Punschkrapferlviolett (2020)

3.7

December 25, 2021

Tuning / Blend 4.0
Energy / Intensity 3.3
Innovation / Creativity 4.0
Soloists 4.0
Sound / Production 4.0
Repeat Listenability 4.0
Tracks
1 Weihnacht is neama weit 4.0
2 Christmas Lights 3.7
3 Für die Liebe 3.7
4 Driving Home for Christmas 3.3
5 's Christkindl findt di 4.0
6 Sie san der Klaus 3.0
7 Vor der stillen Nacht 3.7
8 Come and Blow, Winter Wind 4.3
9 Maria durch ein' Dornwald ging 4.0
10 Es wird scho glei dumpa 4.3
11 Stille Nacht 4.0

Recorded 2020
Total time: 40:00, 11 songs


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Weihnacht is neama weit 4
2 Christmas Lights 3
3 Für die Liebe 3
4 Driving Home for Christmas 3
5 's Christkindl findt di 4
6 Sie san der Klaus 3
7 Vor der stillen Nacht 5
8 Come and Blow, Winter Wind 4
9 Maria durch ein' Dornwald ging 4
10 Es wird scho glei dumpa 3
11 Stille Nacht 3

Punschkrapferlviolett, a holiday album from Austrian quintet zwo3wir, is a mix of songs in German and English, plus traditionals, covers, and originals. It's more of an album of songs about the season than a collection of holiday familiars, so if you're looking to hum along while sipping eggnog with your family, then skip directly to the final track, Stille Nacht. But I don't think that "holiday album" is what zwo3wir is going for here — or if it is, the group has done a great job of disguising their intent behind a non-holiday title and a bright purple cover.

Even if you don't speak much German, some of the non-English songs are delightful; Vor der stillen Nacht has a lovely melody and soloist Tina Haberfehlner's lilting voice really sells it (she's also the composer of the track). Maria durch ein' Dornwald ging has a sweetly somber feel, and Haberfehlner's soprano melody sounds heavenly on the traditional Es wird scho glei dumpa.

The songs in English are less interesting — there are covers of Coldplay and Chris Rea, plus a seemingly obscure (but lovely) tune named Come and Blow, Winter Wind. Having these songs interspersed among the German ones will be a little disjointed for listeners that don't speak both languages (Now you understand it! Now you don't!). Of the three, Come and Blow, Winter Wind is the most engaging and has a cool vocal-horn interlude halfway through that I keep coming back to.

Throughout, there are a few little imperfections that will either come across as charming or sloppy, depending on your point of view — harmonies that are slightly off-tune or voices that are slightly off-rhythm. These are the kinds of things that most listeners are used to having fixed in post-production with computer wizardry. Depending on your point of view, these may either be lovely reminders of the fact that music is created by actual humans who are imperfect, or it may feel as though the group didn't take advantage of all of the modern tools that exist. I prefer to focus on the former here, but if you're hoping for the studio gloss of a group like Pentatonix, then you'll probably land more on the latter sentiment. Still, zwo3wir has some charming winter tunes here, and Punschkrapferlviolett definitely has a few songs worth checking out.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 5
Tracks
1 Weihnacht is neama weit 5
2 Christmas Lights 4
3 Für die Liebe 4
4 Driving Home for Christmas 4
5 's Christkindl findt di 4
6 Sie san der Klaus 3
7 Vor der stillen Nacht 3
8 Come and Blow, Winter Wind 5
9 Maria durch ein' Dornwald ging 5
10 Es wird scho glei dumpa 5
11 Stille Nacht 5

Have you been listening to Christmas music for the last couple of weeks and are already sick of the twelve songs every radio station lazily rotates through? Well, luckily for you, Austrian quintet zwo3wir has given all of us some new takes on some of your favorite Christmas classics on their latest full album release, Punschkrapferlviolett.

I am incredibly impressed with the wide variety of genres that the group has managed to fit on the album. Pop/rock, jazz, traditional...zwo3wir gives us all of it at an exceptional level, and it just highlights the skill and talent that all the members possess. I do wish that the order of the tracks had been mixed up a bit and given more balance instead of "dividing" the album between each of the genres. That said, the last four tracks are some of my favorites on the whole album, which are all the traditional tunes. The blend among the five singers is wonderful throughout these tracks, and there is so much emotion and tenderness in each voice. Stille Nacht (Silent Night, to those English speakers) is one of my favorite Christmas songs going back to my high school choir days, and zwo3wir's rendition is simply beautiful, with gorgeous solos from Tina Haberfehlner and Judith Fuchslueger. This was absolutely the right choice to end the album with. If I had to nitpick, I would have put a little bit of both a decrescendo and ritardando on the final line, just to punctuate the "silent" feel. I am also very impressed with the "fa da da" section in Come and Blow, Winter Wind, and I love how each vocal part had its own little moments throughout with the various entrances and crescendos, which the production of the track highlights well.

Outside of the traditional songs, I wasn't familiar with many of the tracks on the album — which makes sense, given that primarily German tracks wouldn't be the go to here in the United States. Weihnacht is neama weit speaks to the feeling that while we adults may not be the most excited for the season to be upon us, we see the excitement in children, and maybe that should be enough for us to get excited for the holiday. I'm sure many of us have felt that one way or the other about the holiday, and zwo3wir does a good job conveying the emotion of the track in the opener to the album. And while the vocals aren't as tight in 's Christkindl findt di as some of their other tracks, this original track written by Haberfehlner does provide some laughs and realism that, no matter how you try to escape the holiday if Christmas is not your thing, it's always going to be there... even if you try and escape to Hawaii. I wasn't even familiar with Christmas Lights, which is a Coldplay track (maybe I just live under a rock), but I love how this song builds from start to finish. Shout out to the bass and vocal percussion which really drive the track from the start, along with Paul Schörghuber and Michael Burghofer on the solo.

So, no matter what you gravitate to music-wise around the Christmas holiday, you can be assured that there's something on this album that you can put on your holiday playlist moving forward. Well done, zwo3wir, and Frohe Weihnachten to you all!


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 2
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Weihnacht is neama weit 3
2 Christmas Lights 4
3 Für die Liebe 4
4 Driving Home for Christmas 3
5 's Christkindl findt di 4
6 Sie san der Klaus 3
7 Vor der stillen Nacht 3
8 Come and Blow, Winter Wind 4
9 Maria durch ein' Dornwald ging 3
10 Es wird scho glei dumpa 5
11 Stille Nacht 4

There's something incredibly pure about reviewing an album from a country where I don't speak the native language. Lyrics are language-dependent, but music as a whole can be entirely independent of languages. Without knowing the language, I am forced as a listener to rely on the energy and overall musicality of the group to try and understand what is coming through the speakers. Austrian quintet zwo3wir gives us an interesting study of this rule. Punschkrapferlviolett features some wonderful sounds, but the lack of emotional and energy differences across the tracks leads to a very monotonous result.

The easiest way to prove this point is by looking at the opening two tracks. Weihnacht is neama weit is lacking a sense of musical direction for the piece. You can tell from the chords that it's some form of elation. However, the energy doesn't give any sense of direction for that elation, whether it's being victorious, inspired, or maybe perhaps even love. It wasn't until I finally looked at the title and saw it translates roughly to "Christmas Isn't Far Anymore" that I realized that it's a holiday album and the opening number is supposed to give off an aura of excitement. This piece feels like it should have the excitement of a small child, and that excitement is instead presented with very nearly one dynamic.

As the album nears the end, the emotions begin to flow more freely from the speakers. I love the opening to Come and Blow, Winter Wind. Regardless of whoever is singing the melody, the opening moments of simple dissonance and resolution and effective use of dynamics really set the stage. I can listen to the lyrics and paint the mental image of a family sitting in a dimly-lit house on a cold winter's night staring longingly for snow to come. I am far less enamored with the second half of the piece, which introduces significantly more polyphony and style changes before eventually returning to the simple chords for the ending.

The overall feeling I have regarding this album is just that it lacks impact. This is not the album to get your heart racing. However, there are moments like in Es wird echo glei dumpa, where the music is just greatly serene and will put the listener at peace. Of course, for a holiday album, that may just be the magic formula. It won't be your favorite a cappella album, but it might just be a great listen for the holidays.

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Ordering Information

This album is available for purchase at the group's website.

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