1979 Martin Kolbe & Ralf Illenberger: Colouring the Leaves
After the first year of my collaboration with Ralf, which was as rewarding as it was exhausting, I fell into a state of mind I had never experienced before. Nowadays you would probably call it burnout or chronic fatigue syndrome. Winter seemed to be nothing but grey and colder than usual. I felt empty, desperate and anxious about the future. Having to cancel the recording sessions for the next LP because “it” was not happening at all did not improve my mood. It took until spring 1979 before everything became lighter and more bearable. The recordings went smoothly again and we finished the first half of our “Colouring the Leaves”-album with a lot more sophisticated playing and recording technique. The last piece of this session was “Veits Tanz” (St. Vitus Dance), a pun on the name of our concert agent Veit but also a strange omen to the things that were to come.
Out of a clear sky pretty exceptional things happened to me: I felt no need to sleep anymore. I, rather the silent type, now talked people’s heads off, surprising them with bizarre plans and ideas. I felt close to enlightenment and to the world formula when things dramatically changed and the primal euphoria turned into a psychosis with heavy paranoid aspects. This was not enjoyable at all any more. This state resulted in me finding myself in the mental hospital of the university of Tübingen where I was brought back to reality in a quite rude way. The diagnosis was “crisis of adolescence” - I did not know what that was supposed to mean.
The months following my stay in the hospital were terrible. I would have liked to hide away from the world but things had to go on somehow. The concerts, participating in a TV show or working as a studio musician were torturous and I felt incapable of anything and useless. I did not know then that I was suffering from major depression. Nobody knew and the illness was not diagnosed properly and not treated. Today I am still puzzled how I managed to function at all in that state. Surprisingly you do not hear it in the recordings or see it on the video tapes. Ralf and I were able to finish our second joint LP. For me it was a time full of self-doubts and negativity. However, the recording worked out fine. It was different from our first release, more mature and a definite step forward. Wolfgang Dauner and Eberhard Weber played a more important role on two of the tracks. On the title track we sang a lyric of our friend and colleague Mike Silver.
“Colouring the Leaves” did not sell as well as the first album but received more media attention and good reviews.