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The Bavariations EP

Back in 1987, I had a poem, Noo Yawk Chant / Sheer Funk, as the opening track on side one of a compilation album called God Save Us From The USA which was released in support of The Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign.

Fourteen years later, a guy in Bavaria called Thies Marsen (first name pronounced ‘Teas’), who’d been in various local German punk bands (which he’d later describe as ‘unsuccessful’) came across this recording. He began playing around with it, chopping up my words and setting them to music. He used a blend of electronic, sampled and live music, the latter on a variety of instruments all of which he played.

Nick Toczek & Thies Marsen Bavariations back cover

To this mix, he added a drum track played by his brother, Luz Marsen (drummer with acclaimed German heavy rockers, Haggard). Two years later, he’d finally finished the song, but had no plans to do anything with it beyond including it on mix tapes for his friends.

Nine years later, in 2010, he sent me an email in which he introduced himself, said what he’d done and added that the resultant song was attached. In May 2013 he explained in another email that “I mixed the Noo Yawk track in the year 2001, but after 9/11 I really didn't know what to do with it - especially because of the end of the song: ‘You just blow ‘em away, Uncle Sam.’ It seemed to be a little too realistic. So it took some years till I pulled the track out of the deep spaces of my computer and decided to send it to you.”

Soon after receiving the track, I emailed a reply, saying how much I liked it and asking if he’d be interested in me recording and sending him some more of my poems to work on. He was. Six months later, we’d got other tracks finished.  More time elapsed while both of us did different stuff.

Two years on, in late summer 2012, Bradford label Sound Shack Records released the Bavariations EP, a CD of three of those songs by me and Thies.

Nick Toczek & Thies Marsen

In April 2013 we had our first phone conversation, and first met when he came to visit me in early June 2013. The main purpose of this visit was that German media had become interested in the story of an EP made by two people who’d neither met nor even spoken to one another. 

His visit was primarily to make a sound recording of our first meeting and our subsequent conversations. From this came a one-hour documentary about the two of us which was broadcast by a leading Bavarian radio station later that year.

In 2016, out of the blue, Thies sent me another track, The Dying And The Dead. Have a listen to it – my voice and words, his music and cut-up. I think it’s cool. This is its first outing. Maybe we’ll do something more with it. Maybe there’ll be more tracks to come. Who knows? We’re both busy people.

Nick Toczek, June 2018

Nick Toczek & Thies Marsen, Bradford Bavariations

Slow but sure, Thies and me head towards the possibility of a Bavariations album. Here's the latest cut-up track, The Forces, which which he emailed to me in October 2018.

Nick Toczek, October 2018

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