Track Spotlight: Tonbandgerät, “Halbmond”


Great music is a language beyond language, comprehensible whether you can understand the lyrics or not. That’s certainly the case with Hamburg-based quartet Tonbandgerät’s (German: tape recorder) and their truly delightful “Halbmond,” one of the singles from their 2013 debut Heute ist für Immer. As it turns out, though, I know German as well – and I can tell you, understanding foreign pop music has been one of the major perks of second language proficiency for me. But really – Tonbandgerät are making some of the best German-language pop/rock I’ve heard since Wir sind Helden’s Die Reklamation, and being able to understand it is a real treat.

Subject-wise, “Halbmond” treads pretty familiar “romantic frustration” territory, but with some nice poetic touches:

Ich hab immer nur halb verstanden
wie man jemals so wird, jemals so wird wie du
Du bist auf Halbmast gestanden
und winktest deinem Leben zu…

Bei mir ist seit Monaten Halbmond
Die andere Hälfte hast du mitgenommen
Vielleicht nicht mit absicht
Vielleicht ist sie einfach mit dir mitgekommen

(MY ENGLISH TRANSLATION:
I only ever half-understood
How somebody could ever, could ever turn out like you
You stood at halfmast
And waved to your life on the shore…

For me it’s been a half-moon for months now
You took the other half with you
Maybe it wasn’t on purpose though
Maybe it simply followed you out)

As we say auf Deutsch: probier’s mal!

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