German Error Message’s music is forever on the periphery. Like the sun rising in the distance, it’s beautiful to watch yet it’s heat never assaults your senses nor causes sweat to form.
Nashville’s Paul Kintzing, the man behind German Error Message, has been perfecting his curious blend of acoustic guitar, analog tape loops, digital sampling and synthesis for some time now – his first Bandcamp release was back in 2008! His releases were always consistent until a five year gap fell between his fourth and fifth full-length, the latter of which dropped at the end of March. It’s probably no coincidence that the first of these albums was called ‘Haunts’ and the second ‘Mend’.
‘Mend’ is an intensely introspective and profound record that takes us through Kintzing’s altering states of depression, dissociation and anxiety. It’s not a maudlin record though, Kintzing grapples with these feelings to disperse the gloom. The album cover characterises that outlook, it’s a photo by Kintzing himself that shows the sun coming in through the blue curtains in his bedroom – a real-life depiction of hope. Kintzing’s descriptions draw those curtains a little, and while the view from it may reveal that his characteristic blanket-layer of fog has cleared a little, the mystery still remains.
Murmuring was written from a place of anxiety, and being frustrated by anxious feelings instead of overwhelmed by them. This song was an attempt to identify the fruitlessness of them. The line “I don’t want to miss anything” means both the desire to remove rose-glassed nostalgia as well as the constant nervous checking of details — the flawed belief that if I do everything right and know enough, I will somehow be able to protect myself.
Hopelessness is about the cyclicality and indefinability of depressive states — days blurring together with morning and evening looking much the same. The wordless section in the second half of the song is meant to feel like when one finally ends and slowly coming out of it. The photo I used for the cover of the single release of this song is the sun coming in through the blue curtains in my room. When I saw the image, it immediately felt linked to this song.
Red Kitchen was inspired by friendship and isolation and is partially based on a conversation I had with a friend 10 years ago. They asked what I wanted my life to look like in the future. I said something about a warm, brightly colored kitchen filled with people that I loved. The “this” that gets carried around is mostly the stuff we all carry around in some way — trauma, grief, and those things felt like a physical weight in your body.
Protection I & II were written a few months apart but are closely related, musically and lyrically. Protection I is mostly trying to explain the why and how of my experience to myself and explores childhood memories that shaped me. It’s also about feeling stuck in some indiscriminate transitional state and seeing houses being torn down everywhere.
Protection II is about snapping into the present sharply out of dissociation — small moments of clarity, shifting memories, and failed or unsuitable coping and defense mechanisms. I realized that many of my actions were based in trying to protect myself in some way — emotionally, my ego, etc.
Water was written about trying to find a balance between external and internal worlds, the fluidity of identity, and inherited behavior. The last section of the song was written out as a kind of a frantic stream of consciousness.
Saltless was the first song that I wrote for the album and was one of the most difficult songs to finish. It’s about the experience of dissociation, identifying it, and attempting to break out of it. The word “saltless” came first out of nowhere as a way to describe how I was feeling, and I built the rest of the song around it.
Carefully is about self-isolation, dealing with intense doubt, and trying to learn self-assurance, making a pact with myself to try to live more presently and openly.