Anna Kühlein

" Anna K├╝hlein certainly is a composer to keep an eye on. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the download only release

Freibad is a 2022 German comedy set in the comfortable surroundings of a swimming pool, enjoyed by a variety of women of different cultures, different beliefs; a culture clash. The film is a comedy, but underneath it, also a social drama, yet everything is sometimes too enlarged, while it buries some social themes (almost) entirely, but most of all tries to tackle too many themes at once, ultimately drowning in content. It doesn’t mean there's anything good about the film, but it is arguably a little too much of a mishmash of things that are either effective or ineffective.

Anna Kühlein, a female composer, graduated from recording, composition, and piano at the University of Popular Arts Berlin in 2016, onward functioned as a musical assistant on a few projects and has gone beyond actively writing music for series and films since 2017. Freibad marks her third project, getting exposure through a commercially available digital release by Königskinder.

I began to write my thoughts from the presumable point of view of Kühlein and my personal critique, then stopped, and approached my review by letting her tell me about the music, which is much like the words initially written, and added some critique.

Anna Kühlein:
For this project in particular, it was difficult to strike the right note. On the one hand, it was supposed to support the rawness of the conversations, the prejudices and "vulgarities" and, on the other hand, the humor of the film and its light handling of the subject matter. It was also particularly important to the director Doris Dörrie (working with her was a really great experience) that the emotions and sensitivity of the characters should not be lost in the process - each of the characters has his or her own baggage to carry. And in addition to that, it should support the summer mood - something fresh - and also fit in well with the songs used in the film. Getting all that together was hard, especially the process of finding the sound, the right feeling and tone took some time in the beginning.

Characteristics that came to my mind were: cheeky, fresh, edgy, light, pointed, suspicious, ironic, sarcastic, a bit - or sometimes a lot - of yearning and longing, freedom and warmth.

I worked with musical themes, so-called leitmotifs, which develop and sometimes intertwine over the course of the film. I assigned instruments to characters - for example, the character Paula got the Steels Drums as a character instrument. The score is very colorful sonically, besides woodwinds, strings, electric guitar, percussion and drums I also worked with instruments like a Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Marimba, the Theremin, Mellotron, old synthesizers, ukulele and dulcimer, etc. I especially loved working with the rhythms, woodwinds, old synthesizers, the wonderful Mellotron and the Theremin. For the score, timing, musical transitions and changes were also especially important as the movie plays with a lot of misunderstandings.

This is what specifically attracts me, mostly in context, but also as a listening experience. Comedies such as this usually strive for an overall feel of satirical, or a combination of comedy and drama, but even absurdness. The pieces of score underline that, regardless of whether I feel they always work, which in most cases isn't because of the composer's efforts, but specific scenes vary in their effectiveness. In colouring, using such an array of instruments as Kühlein does, strengthens the comedy. As the genre is extremely difficult, and also a semi-saturated market, unlike all other genres, the more energy flows from the varied choices of instruments and compositional merits, the more I tend to find some appeal, even the bits which are mainly trying to be witty and try to create the strongest support to deliver the punchline of a scene. As a standalone experience, as with many musical scores to comedies, all the effort is of a lesser, yet still very enjoyable appeal.

Anna Kühlein:
I really wanted to give Freibad a unique sound that supported the conflict between the characters and their own inner conflicts - while not taking themselves too seriously and not losing the humor and lightness. And all that with a big pinch of self-irony.

Because that's what the film also shows: No one is perfect, and everyone has their own twisted and unreflectived prejudices in their heads - some more and some less. And actually, we all want the same thing: To be free and accepted. And instead of coming together and respecting each other, we think we should impose our idea of freedom on everyone - because that way everyone would finally be free, right? The opposite is the case: it is only by letting go and "taking our own ideas off the pedestal" that we can all be as we are and coexist - in freedom. Freibad holds up a mirror to the viewer in a playful, exaggerated, and light way.

Normal Records and Königskinder have proved useful music labels, solely highlighting scores of modern German cinema, going from many physical releases to digital only in recent years. With that transition, I sadly lost sight of the majority of their input, leaving me somewhat ignorant of their display of existing and new talent. Anna Kühlein certainly is a composer to keep an eye on.

1. Wouldn't It Be Nice (Wallis Bird with Kat Frankie, Nicola Rost & Larissa Pesch) 2:36
2. Gabi und Eva beobachten Yasemin 1:02
3. Paula 1:30
4. FKK-Oma gegen Ganzkörperkondom 0:55
5. Paula legt sich neben Yasemin 0:44
6. Mermaids (Larissa Pesch) 2:31
7. Ankunft Araberinnen 1:46
8. Evas und Gabis Pilz ist von Araberinnen besetzt 1:02
9. Yasemins Mutter will schwimmen 0:54
10. Gabi wird von Araberinnen verfolgt 0:36
11. Wettschwimmen 0:54
12. Uschi Obermeier von Giesing 0:57
13. Freiheit (Clarissa Peach) 2:49
14. Noch mehr Araberinnen 0:44
15. Wurst im Becken 1:16
16. Der neue Bademeister 1:38
17. Siamo Liberi (Marlene Schuen) 0:40
18. Schwimmtraining und Rettung 2:02
19. Paula rebelliert 1:02
20. Bademeister Nils als Nixe 0:48
21. Rocky und Nils flirten 0:41
22. Schmetterlinge im Bauch 1:44
23. Versöhnung Gabi und Eva 0:52
24. Kims Rede 0:51
25. Ti Giri (Marlene Schuen) 2:28

Total Album Time: 33:02

(click to rate this score)  
(total of 3 votes - average 4.5/5)

Released by

Königskinder (download only release 2022)