Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Curse of the Foehn Winds

Arabella High Rise, Munich Germany (Source)

Does weather really have the ability to affect our psyche? Can it lead to suicide....or even murder?

A few days ago, I finished reading a really fun book called Haunted Rock and Roll by Matthew L. Swayne. The book briefly mentions the Musicland Studio in Munich Germany. The studio was a popular one throughout the 1970s and 1980s, with bands such as Led Zeppelin, Queen, and the Rolling Stones recording their hits within its dark walls.

But, there was something strange about studio. Many of the artists who spent time there reported feeling extremely uncomfortable. They claimed that there was an evil sense of foreboding that permeated the space, and sensations such as depression and isolation were common. A few even believed that their careers took a downward turn after time spent there. Some began whispering that the studio might even be cursed.  But, why would the studio be cursed?

Musicland was established in the late 1960s by Giorgio Moroder, an Italian record producer. The studios were located in the basement of Munich's Arabella High-Rise Building. The Arabella is a 23-storey skyscraper, built between 1966 and 1969. Over the years, rumors began circulating among the bands that recorded at Musicland that the Arabella was a popular place for suicide victims, the preferred method being to jump off the roof.

A theory has emerged as to why this particular building attracted such a high number of suicides and why so many who used the basement studios felt a curse was attached to the property: the Arabella Hotel is in the line of a weather phenomenon called the Foen (or Fohn, in Germany) Winds. The term 'Foen Winds' originally was used to describe the mass of warm winds that would quickly blow south, down over the Alps, melting the snows and significantly raising temperatures. Today, the term is used to describe the same phenomenon occurring at any mountain.

These strong, hot winds didn't just bring higher temperatures, they also brought weird behaviors. Over the years, studies have shown that those in the path of these winds are likely to suffer higher rates of migraines, suicides, homicides, and delusions. Munich University did a study that seemed to show at least a 10% increase in suicides during Foehn Winds. But HOW does a wind cause so much turmoil in people?

In the 1950s, an Israeli team studied the effects of a similar weather pattern and concluded that the culprit was the concentration of ions in the air. According to an article by Joe Kloc, "When the wind blows, it accumulates positive ions. This causes a rise in serotonin production, which in turn leads to nausea, vomiting, migraines, and a number of potential other side effects." 

For over a hundred years, the Foehn Winds have been great source material for legends and superstitions, and have been mentioned in literature over and over for their strange ways of affecting people. Now, science is finally helping explain WHY. Fortunately for recording artists, the Musicland Studios no longer occupy the basement area of the Arabella. In the early 1990s, a new subway route nearby began to affect the quality of the recordings, so the studios were shut down. 

Sources/Further Reading

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