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Main Category: Avantgarde
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Starting Period: The Divided Eighties
Also active in: From Grunge To The Present Day



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Year Of Release: 1981
Overall rating =

Guess somebody took the old "rattle those pots and pans" line a bit too literally.

Best song: KOLLAPS

Track listing: 1) Tanz Debil; 2) Steh Auf Berlin; 3) Negativ Nein; 4) U-Haft Muzak; 5) Draussen Ist Fientlich; 6) Horen Mit Schmerzen; 7) Jet'm; 8) Kollaps; 9) Sehnsucht; 10) Vom Krieg; 11) Hirnsage; 12) Abstieg & Zerfall; 13) Helga; [BONUS TRACK:] 14) Negativ Nein (live).

My first, way too hasty decision upon hearing this was: "There's no way I'm giving this a positive review if I have to stick a number on it, so I'll just leave it unrated". Then I remembered that were I to follow that decision, I'd have to leave the entire catalog of Neubauten unrated, which would mean leaving the band themselves unrated, and that wouldn't agree too well with my little numeric obsession. So here's your sweet blue mathematical equivalent of my spiritual appreciation for all to see. But keep in mind that this is a highly arbitrary decision. If you have problems with that number on your personal numerology charts, feel free to E-mail me a full account of your personal arithmetic compatibility, preferably verified by your psychoanalyst, and I'll adjust the result. Hey, I don't wanna be a nuisance. Let's all be honest: can you tell good clanging from bad clanging? If, as Mark Knopfler once sardonically remarked, a guy "takes an empty canvas and sticks it on the wall", how is this going to be rated?

Kollaps is officially recognized as Einstürzende Neubauten's first full-fledged LP, although the band had certain tape-only recordings and suchlike prior to that. As far as unlistenable records go, only John Lennon's early experimental records and maybe Throbbing Gristle, whom I have actually never heard, sound even more unlistenable than this. No need to worry, though: the way I see it, there is absolutely no need to subjugate oneself to repeated listenings here. Kollaps is an aural experience that might be fun to relive once and then shelf it forever; it's one of these cases where the memory of an event might mean much more than the event itself. And frankly, I don't know what kind of utterly disturbed psychology one should possess in order to want to relive this experience more than once (I actually relived it thrice, but that's the unfortunate fate of a reviewer, you know - according to a recent survey, we live ten years shorter than the average guy, and are far more prone to brain cancer, gastritis, flatulence, and bubonic plague. Oh, and we all have a fetish of jacking off to pictures of Martha Stewart in jail, too).

Anyway, if you want to like Kollaps, get ready for a lot of clanging. Clanging which, so it seems to me, is produced with every existing metallic object, from drums to hoes and rakes to overturned buckets with holes in the middles. The band thrives on percussive work, and the several percussionists that were forming the bulk of E.N. at the time make every "song" into a hellish celebration of banging and booming. The banging can be fast and rhythmic, or it can be painfully slow... and rhythmic; one thing is, despite all the obvious despisal for melody and harmony, E.N. rarely turn the seances into a completely cacophonic chaotic mess. There's always some kind of rhythm going on. There are very few instruments beside percussion; now and then you'll notice a distorted synthesizer noise, or a few disjointed basslines, and occasionally Blixa Bargeld actually picks up a guitar and plays a rhythm of one or two notes, but essentially it's just the BANG and the CLANG that matters. Not to mention that sometimes it's pretty hard to actually tell the guitar from the drums: Blixa's style is to minimize the differences between the two, and somehow he manages to squeeze all life out of the guitar, rendering it just another piece of cold robotic acting in his paranoid universe. No wonder Nick Cave took to the guy.

The second important element are the vocal overdubs, of course. There's nothing sung here - how could there be, it's soooo uncool, this is performance art, you know - but there's a lot that is spoken, whispered, murmured, muttered, gulped, yelled, screamed, hollered, and expectorated. Some of the screaming, by the way, sounds much more gruesome than your average Iggy Pop, but I have a deep suspicion Blixa was seriously tampering with his voice using all kinds of electronic devices. At times, the hideous screams actually just "fade" into an outburst of ear-destructive synth feedback. However, it is never overdone to the point of seeming downright silly, as obvious a problem as that might seem.

And despite all the defiant minimalism and arrogant unmusicality, there is still something here that draws my attention. Maybe it's just the darkness and unprecedented cruelness of this entire project that redeems it; after all, industrial music focuses on machines and metal, objects that are in direct opposition to "soul" and "emotion", and Kollaps and the like, albums which totally reject even the traditional usage of the electric guitar to convey some kinds of feelings, pass along this feeling of cruel, impending doom better than the best Goth-rock the Cure could ever master. The trick thing is that so many intentionally "evil" albums are so easy to laugh at; they have these dark, spooky guitar tones, these Satanic lyrics, these overblown vocal deliveries, tons and tons of stuff that provides magnificent fodder for ridiculing, for beginners and seasoned pros alike. But how exactly do you ridicule a guy who bangs on steel pipes? "Ha ha, he bangs on steel pipes, I can get me a steel pipe and bang on it, too, go back to flipping burgers, you wannabe artist moron". That's sort of trite, you know. The bang-on-a-pipe sound is not funny. It is not spooky, either. It is not nice. It is unpleasant to hear, physically, but that's about it. You can hate these guys for ruining your eardrums, at best you can just ignore them - but laughing at them is impossible.

Naming highlights on here is a virtually impossible thing, since most of the time you will not even notice when exactly track n becomes track n+1. That said, personally, I was almost entranced by the two opening numbers (although that might just be due to the album's sequencing). 'Tanz Debil' is loud and arrogant, with a harsh, "rough-techno" drum machine beating out a murderous rhythm while Blixa screams out Karate interjections - it's like a Mortal Kombat series for the toughest of audiences, where the cartoonish violence of the cinematopgrahy is complemented with real blood and guts strewn across the screen every five seconds (especially at the end of the track, where Blixa picks up the guitar and makes it sound like an old, rusty, 50-foot long truck that keeps refusing to ignite due to old age and bad temper). And 'Steh Auf Berlin' is the most Teutonic piece on here, with Blixa screaming out isolated German phrases in prime Hitlerian intonations (the lyrics have absolutely nothing to do with Nazism, though), alternating them with blood-curdling larynx-shredding screams and feedback blasts that slowly but steadily corrode all your sense organs into a state of total mush.

The album's centerpiece is 'Kollaps' itself, a giant of a composition in relation to everything else - eight minutes in all, and for most of its duration the "song" is actually accompanied by a guitar rhythm, even if, like I said, it's not easy to tell a guitar from a steel pipe on this album. Okay, so there's a little guitarish ring to it here, I won't argue with that, but under certain circumstances, you can make them steel pipes ring as well. It's also got Blixa's only attempt to create something remotely reminiscent of a vocal melody - or maybe I'm just imagining things. Eight minutes of one steel-pipe-like guitar note and paranoid screaming and you've gotta suspect that the screaming actually represents singing. Otherwise, here come the people in white.

Operating in traditional terms, we might even find ourselves stating that there is, in fact, a ballad on this album. Indirect evidence, such as a one-note piano rhythm ("piano" = "mild", that's one thing the Collapsing New Buildings have so far been unable to bring over to the Dark Side) and certain "tender" intonations in Blixa's voice, does indeed allow us to place 'Sehnsucht' in that category. For one minute and twenty seconds, you get to see Bargeld's softer side. Rest assured, though, that the Carpenters would never want to cover that song anyway.

Overall, debut albums by radically-minded people do have a tendency to be their most uncompromising, and Kollaps is no exception. However, it also has plenty of intrigue, and I feel rather safe about saying that never again would Bargeld really reach such an ideal combination of roughness, innovative power, and freshness at the same time. The band would go on to better things, but they wouldn't be that mind-blowing; and they would go on to equally mind-blowing things, but they wouldn't be better (in fact, they would be far more boring). Thus, I heartily invite all of you to get hold of Kollaps, one of the milestones in industrial music development; listen to it; defend a PhD thesis about it; and then go back to your happy childhood, regardless of whether it consists of Billy Joel or Premiata Forneria Marconi.



Year Of Release: 1983

Can I give an Einstürzende Neubauten record a bad rating, Mr "Industrial Music Buries The Beatles Five Feet Under"? Can I? Oh please allow me to do that just once! (Or twice. Or maybe unlimited credit, eh, sir?). Because I really really hate this one.

The band's second album just didn't do anything to me. It's larger, bigger, and even more pretentious. And it all sounds like one big 'Revolution 9' ripoff, and it's just as bad as whatever Coil were doing at those early stages in their career. Drawings pushes the plank even further, because this time the rhythmic stuff is kept to a minimum. So is the cold cruel Teutonic stuff. When I heard Kollaps, I said - okay, this is just a sequence of cling-clangs, but at least they're rhythmic cling-clangs and they're cold merciless expressive German cling-clangs. Hey, that could be the start of something! When I hear this... well, sue me. And that was, you know, the stuff they did to convince the world of the emergence of a new convention-breaking art. THIS? There's no way in hell, totally no way in hell this bunch of random disconnected meaningless ugly noises could EVER be the start of something. Unless, of course, the sound of it were tamed, streamlined, and made not necessarily accessible, but at least purposeful.

And Einstürzende Neubauten would go on to tame it later, but here you have the band at their wildest, most unlistenable and most unfriendly. The only use I can think of for this album is to put it on at a large party and then proudly proclaim, "This is my favourite album of all time". VERY useful if you want to eliminate all your friends in a matter of five seconds, although some of the more caring ones might give you an unpleasant surprise by calling 911 or something. And yeah, I did come across certain freaks who were proclaiming their love for this stuff (and just today I've been reading a review of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, too, which said how much of a revelation that album was - punk, industrial and noise all in one, and all that coming from a guy who's always released such ordinary music, too!). I wonder if these people watch their TVs with inverted colours, too.

But back to the album. It's fifty three minutes of... of... noises. Noises that don't mean anything, don't go anywhere, and don't do shit. Well, here's 'Wassertum' for you: a bloody six minutes of gurgling creaky synth and some far, far, faraway clanging and some German muttering along the way. Yeah I know this was very typical of the contemporary scene in the early Eighties, but hasn't the failure of John and Yoko taught these guys anything? Here's 'Merle (Die Elektrik)'. Much shorter, this time just a steady pulsation similar to that of an artificial heart apparatus and somebody reciting over the radio. Nice. Here's 'Die Genaue Zeit'. Just a long long long track of synth feedback looping back and forth and Blixa screaming his Teutonic stuff over it. Hmm, come to think of it, 'Die Genaue Zeit' at least has a little bit of that same atmosphere that made Kollaps acceptable and 'conceptual' in an understandable sense.

But the problem is, these atmospheric bits are very hard to come by on this album. And when you do come upon something acceptable, you're already so tired of getting through all the muck you don't give a damn. Besides, some tracks can have cool passages and then degenerate into complete shit. 'Zeichnungen Des Patienten O.T.', for instance (that'd be the title track), has a fun industrial percussion-and-bass rhythm going on before Blixa spoils everything by yelling in a totally vomit-inducing manner. He's got that murky "nasal sharpness" to his voice, and when he overindulges in it it makes me go crazy. I mean, screaming gotta be DEEP, coming from the bottom of your larynx or something, ugh, spare me this horrid whining.

There's also a couple of excellent 'chaos and destruction' tracks - like 'Abfackeln!', for instance, the album's violent call-to-arms and everything that goes along with it. There, the percussion, the guitarwork, and the vocals blend together real fine. But the strange thing is, for a band that much preoccupied with destruction, demolition, and deconstruction, Drawings isn't really that much of a nihilistic album. 'Abfackeln!' is powerful, and a couple other tracks are too, but lots of the time you just get things like I already described. How 'destructive' is a monotonous pulsation with radio announcements going over it? Whatever. I could understand Kollaps as expressive art because I understood, or at least seemed to understand, what its 'expressivity' was all about. Drawings might be 'expressive', too, but I really wouldn't know what the hell it is supposed to express.



Year Of Release: 1983

The band's actual discography is a ferocious nightmare (although, granted, through personal experience I've learned that pretty much every industrial band has a nightmarish discography, with such a maze of LPs, CDs, EPs, singles, maxi-singles, mini-singles, soundtracks, compilations, archive releases, "half-compilations" and stuff that you should get paid - good money, too - if you ever wanted to make an exhaustive and comprehensible listing of industrial production). This here thing is actually a compilation, but I've decided to include it here for the following reasons: (a) it seems to have a small bunch of tracks that were previously unreleased; (b) it collects several chunks of material from the band's earliest EPs, Schwarz and Kalte Sterne, which don't seem to be available by themselves no more; (c) it is, most likely, the only piece of Neubauten material from the early days that'd be relatively easy for you to find. (But don't confuse it with SAA II and SAA III, which are all collections of later material).

Besides, it's mostly good stuff on here. What makes my heart jump around and whistle 'The Itsy-Bitsy Spider' in a typical Nick Cave intonation is that the band didn't put anything from Zeichnungen on here, apparently thinking that the aesthetics of that album was not altogether compatible with the aesthetics of the stuff from 1981-82. Were they ever right, I say. Around five or six tracks were apparently taken directly from Kollaps, including such highlights as 'Negativ Nein' and 'Krieg In Den Städten', which is just another name for 'Steh Auf Berlin'. Everything else either comes from the aforementioned EPs or from other sources I didn't have the strength to identify.

So what's out here, really? That early EP stuff might not all be genius, but it was certainly created in that same atmospheric vein, and makes a good addition to the essentials of Kollaps. 'Zum Tier Machen', for instance, mixes industrial beats with some kind of drugged-out party mood, and some of the actual backing vocals are very much reminiscent of aboriginal chanting (in fact, I think that's what it is). Aboriginal chanting + wild screaming from Blixa + the usual clanging = a wild ravaging experience, quite unlike the boredom of Zeichnungen. 'Stahlversion' creates a slow depressing rhythm out of a periodic hammer banging against a metal tub (that's just my aural impression, of course) and a slide guitar scraped against a pitchfork (that's another aural impression), plus the tension constantly increases as the hammer starts pounding faster and faster.

'Schwarz' is, true to its 'black' name, the darkest thing on the album, with synth feedback dominating the proceedings, but it's hardly the most interesting thing on here (sounds like something Yoko Ono would have been doing at her "avantgarde peak"). On the other hand, 'Kalte Sterne' ('Cold Stars'), which is actually built around a real bass rhythm and is the most "song-like" track on the album, is a great inclusion. It's like assisting at The Great Cosmic Debacle or something like that; some might complain that it's very similar to a stripped down Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd tune, and it probably is, but on the other hand, it's interesting to see the band achieve the level of early Floyd trippiness by using far less "sonic textures" than those guys did. Gotta dig the funky bass too, and the ominous chiming synths. And Blixa plays some really tripped out guitar on here, too.

All in all, I guess Strategies is really an excellent overview of the band's early days, and an essential buy for any fan of industrial clanging. One might certainly question my ranking of Zeichnungen so far below, but remember, this is Einsturzende Neubauten reviewed from the point of view of somebody who's willing to incorporate a tolerance for industrial noises into a bigger scheme of things. Sure, some of the tracks on here sound pretty similar to the ones on Zeichnungen, but this retrospective is far more diverse and multi-lateral as a whole. I don't care much for "rule-breaking for the sake of rule-breaking", which is what that proper 1983 album essentially does, but when failures of that kind are combined and interspersed with emotionally valid successes, that's an entirely different story, you know. Remember, these reviews are useless for industrial fans - they'll only be useful to you if you want to try and tread this new weird "industrial water" (gosh, that should be polluted water, hah!) because you're all nice and open-minded and crap. And in that case, Strategies is that precious golden middle that might marginally appeal to you, unlike Zeichnungen, which is just one big fat question mark. Once and for all.



Year Of Release: 1985

Good this album be. Make me want to grab my frying pan, it does. Make me want to BANG ON A PAN, it does! Happy I so am, industrial music hear. Industrial music shit be, so me think. Halber Mensch industrial be. Halber Mensch the shit be, I be thinking.

(Sorry for a little pidgin there, industrial music tends to do weird stuff to people. At least I chanced to take it the easy way). Yep, well, this is probably the closest that industrial music can get to a 'traditional' approach to musical values and still retain its "industriality" - no sane person would accuse Blixa Bargeld of selling out on this album just because he happened to make the proceedings more rhythmic. And not just more rhythmic, but actually more complex as far as rhythm is concerned - in fact, add on some guitars and pianos and bass and you got yourself some real post-punk out there. They don't, so it's still industrial; but really, it's much more listenable that way. I do realize that no sane person would call one Einstürzende Neubauten album more listenable than another, but you must understand, I'm trying to reach out to the more insane part of the population here. Not the insane part of the population for which Einstürzende Neubauten's peak was Zeichnungen, just the insane part of the population who's stuck somewhere in between the rationality and the mental catastrophe.

So here we go: 'Halber Mensch' is perfectly rhythmic, the rhythm being represented by a croaky dry synthesizer croak (don't trust my words on the instrumentation used, though - for all I know, it might be an amplified sound of a violin bow scraping against a dead shark's entrails) and a female chorus chanting 'Halber Mensch, Halber Mensch'. Against this rhythm, other female and male choruses engage in pseudo-religious chanting, always dissonant and never inviting. I didn't take the time to translate the lyrics from German, although 'Halber Mensch', of course, means 'half-man' or something like that.

The real music, of course, begins with the classic seven-minute "industrial dance" track 'Yu-Gung', with one of the best percussion paradigms ever set up by these guys. Look especially how these goddamn chimes clock in around the second minute - classic! Too bad I don't have the strength to mess around with the lyrics, this could have been useful (the endless 'fütter mein Ego!', chanted over and over by Blixa, means 'feed my ego!', which, of course, everybody who's buying Neubauten records is actually doing). The rhythm out there is so great I don't even notice the horrible length, even if very little happens outside the percussion work and the vocals... but I'm always in favour of great percussion work, if it's rhythmic enough.

Not everything on here is rhythmically based, of course; a major problem occurs on the second side, when 'Das Schaben' takes place - I seriously don't know who in 1985 could have been interested in nine minutes of pure industrial noise. It's weird how people, instead of progressing and trying to think of something "positive", so often retread to the basic foundations which have already been explored to the last inch. Ugh. Nobody will be able to convince me that the goddamn track does not suck. Especially since it has the nerve to come after 'Der Tod Ist Ein Dandy', which does everything 'Das Schaben' does (ear-splitting shrieky synth noises, sledgehammer clanging, etc.) and more (has some kind of a rhythm and evil, shiver-sending Blixa vocals).

But the misfires are compensated with more of those goofy 'industrial-dance' numbers like 'Z.N.S.', for instance, which almost sounds like friggin' break dance in parts, only gloomier and less formulaically robotic; or with pseudo-pop songs like 'Sand', which finishes the album on a note very similar to some of the more radical Tom Waits numbers (and is actually sung in English, with lyrics mocking, or imitating, traditional British folk, but, of course, steeply soaked with Blixa's Teutonic mysticism). Besides, it's hardly possible to imagine a true industrial album that wouldn't contain a solid portion of filler (Coil's Scatology is almost an exception, but that one wasn't a true one hundred percent industrial album anyway), unless you're one o' them freaks who praise everything as long as it is noise.

In fact, I did see some people refer to Halber Mensch as the band's one true masterpiece, and these people sure know what they're talking about - in any case, it's easily the most accessible of Einstürzende Neubauten's inaccessible records, too, so it can serve as a good introduction. And if you're interested in complex, unpredictable percussion work, it goes without saying that the album is a must.



Year Of Release: 1987

Yeah well, I know it's hard to believe, but facts are facts - this is the first EN album not to have any percussion on it. Hey! Watch out for that jaw!

All right, I am pulling your leg here. There's plenty of percussion on the album, of course. How could there not be? It's just that there's actual music on here, and all of a sudden, Blixa and company start relying on things like bass, guitar, and synthesizer, just as much, if not more than, on their regular pots and pans. There are bits and snatches of melodies, too, not just "empty" rhythms. It's still weird and trippy and disturbing, but overall, it just continues the usual scheme of how pretty much every industrial team eventually "mellows out" and starts merging their radical innovation with more traditional values.

So, even if it's less 'diagnostic' of Neubauten's true essence than Halber Mensch, it's almost every bit as good. And as far as pure atmosphere goes, this one might even be more paranoid - the goofy question mark of HM is transformed into a dreary nihilistic blob. When 'Zerstörte Stelle' opens the album, it doesn't aim for the usual "ear destruction" (although occasionally Blixa's vocals can't evade the usual physiological reflex of vomiting anyway, but then again you can't ask a guy like that to start sounding like Paul Anka all of a sudden, can you?); rather it aims for a bleaker post-punk/Goth attitude. Which, by the way, isn't that unexpected if you remember that Neubauten was occupying only half of Blixa's musical life at the moment, whereas the other half was spent accompanying Nick Cave - and much of this album does sound like Nick Cave. Thus, the dues are repaid, and the two styles kind of merge.

Anyway, 'Zerstörte Stelle' is lengthy, mantraic, driven by a minimalistic evil bass riff, and actually developing - the crucial moment comes when that mind-blowing pseudo-orchestrated background comes on, sending the world spinning around you in a quasi-Wagnerian manner. Along the way, vocals come in and go out, the pots and pans are used but never abused, and the bass riff serves as that one anchor to keep everything from falling apart. This IS pretty good, and then it's followed by the band's "gleeful" deconstruction of the traditional folk favourite 'Morning Dew', which is arguably one of the best post-modernistic deconstructions I've ever heard (certainly beats the crap out of the ridiculous "know-what-you-want-to-do-before-doing-it" deconstruction of 'All Along The Watchtower' by XTC, for one thing). The vocals are the key here, of course, as Blixa threatens to crunch that microphone over his teeth or at least soak it right through with his venomous saliva as he whispers, wheezes, whines, howls, growls, yelps, meaouws, and blubbers through the song - 'I thought I haaaaaaard a yeeeeeoung maaaan crrryyyin', brrrrrrrrbaaby!' However, don't forget there's also an excellent overall musical crescendo in the song.

The album then picks even more steam as the band crashes into the nightmare of 'Ich Bin's', with fast fast fast fast proto-techno rhythms crashing into fast fast fast proto-trip-hop crashing percussion waves and then going out again and then having a tiny "folk chant" snippet and then drawing on church bells and fire team sirens and what-not and very very speedily picked guitars and post-psychedelic vocal overdubs and then it all just kinda fizzles out in a second, only to give way to 'MODIMIDOFRSASO', describing the complicated laborious fussy unbearable everyday life of... well, of the protagonist (the name of the song is just the first two letters of every weekday, in German, of course). There's not just percussion here - there's ominous shivery piano riffs, occasional violins scraping against the speakers, and bits of atonal keyboard noise in between the, uhm, "verses".

After such a violent first side, the second side seems almost disappointingly quiet, but it grows on you as well. 'Zwölf Städte' is something that I believe would have fit nicely on an Amon Düül II record, maybe with just a little more guitar to punch it up some; not as impressive as 'Zerstörte Stelle', but still pretty decent as far as "avantgarde jamming" goes. 'Keine Schönheit Ohne Gefahr' ('No Beauty Without Danger') is even more lethargic, all drenched in lengthy feedback noodling a la experimental Neil Young, and could be described as the album's stinker, although I don't really have any big problems with it. Finally, 'Kein Bestandteil Sein', with its constantly growing tension and occasional jazzy guitar attack, is probably the band's idea of a 'Sister Ray' - but thrice as short and thrice as idea-packed. (Okay, maybe not thrice, but didn't 'Sister Ray' have, like, one idea per its seventeen minutes?).

In all, it's the most "accessible" Neubauten album up to that time, although, of course, still with about as much commercial potential as a buncha dogshit. Don't be put off by the "Gothic" references, though - these guys aren't exactly Siouxsie & The Banshees. They don't take themselves too seriously. Besides, they sing in German. That makes them at the same time more authentic and less understandable.



Year Of Release: 1989

This one is even more of a "rock" album, or, at least, a "musical" one. It's also short, and only really flawed through one lengthy extravaganza; otherwise, it is as imaginative and, in this weird world of ours, enjoyable as anything these titans of steel ever put out.

Perhaps the most memorable track on here is the fascinating 'Prolog' - not because of Blixa's surrealistic and slightly creepy (in a Teutonic kind of way) lyrics, because even if you are somewhat familiar with the German language, you'll hardly be able to understand what exactly they are referring to; but rather because of the lyrical formula he presents on the track. 'Meint ihr nicht... [don't you think]', he begins every spoken passage, 'wir könnten... [that we could]', then, after a flurry of bizarre imagery, he finishes with a flourish: 'wir könnten, aber... [we could, but...]', and I'm not telling what happens next. It's not music, of course, it's performance art, but it's pretty classy performance art.

'Feurio' is arguably the "best-known" track of the lot, and sure it is: it is built on a totally modernistic techno rhythm, still at least several years before techno made its commercial breakthrough. So it's "artsy" techno, and not generic in the least. It actually serves as a basis for the band to unveil their trademark percussion attack, and, being the mainstream sellout sheep that I am, it's easier for me to appreciate their trademark percussion attack when it's set to a fully-produced rhythm track, even if it's a techno rhythm track. The cling-clanging never ceases, and neither do Blixa's apocalyptic overtones - it's one of the angriest, most nightmarish "songs" the band ever mastered.

'Ein Stuhl In Der Höhle' is short and almost sea-shantiesque in a way; seems to me that this is, once again, echoes of Nick Cave transferred onto pure Neubauten territory. Don't forget Blixa himself has gone on record saying that, until he got acquainted with Nick, he was pretty much unfamiliar with the "rocking" world and the whole Anglo-Saxon tradition in general - which isn't that surprising if we remember that Neubauten did not at all come out of any rock background. The title track, then, ends Side 1 on another high apocalyptic note, although here the feeling is more "ominous" than straightforwardly "violent" - there's a frightening 'marching' melody, there's all kinds of clanging noises and broken glass and rattling chains throughout, and so on.

Unfortunately, the second side is dominated by the band's 'We Will Fall/Sister Ray' in one - the thirteen-minute long "suite" 'Fiat Lux', which is just tremendously dated for 1989. Not only is it boring per se, but other people did that stuff before, for better or for worse. I'm not really all that interested in hearing the 'song' open with that naggin' guitar drone a la early Velvet Underground/Sonic Youth; if anything, I can go to Velvet Underground and Sonic Youth to hear it. That's the first third of the composition; the second third is basically a sound collage where one droney guitar riff is replayed over and over and various noises in the 'Revolution 9' style are played over it; and only the third third finally gets a real rhythm and a real 'vocal part', but even that one is barely impressive. Once again, the shit hits the fan, and once again, I get extra evidence for my theory that no other genre can make the transition from genius to garbage quicker than "industrial", even if it's not so much pure "industrial" as "industrialized rock" (which the album as a whole is, but this song really isn't).

Fortunately, they redeem themselves with two good tunes to end the record. 'Schwindel' rolls along at an almost funky pace, although in truth, the only thing about it that's funky is that it's perfectly possible to play a funky guitar rhythm to it, which they do not (there is some minimal guitar accompaniment that kind of suggests the necessary syncopation, though); and all through the song, we find these inimitable percussion rolls again, which sometimes make it feel as if the whole world were collapsing around you. And 'Der Kuss' is, once again, droney and energy-less, but it's significantly shorter than 'Fiat Lux' and features all kinds of unpredictable developments (as in - a piano out of nowhere? the track is interrupted by a percussion avalanche? something like that).

The bonus tracks here also include two remixes of 'Feurio' (the first one is funny because the way it begins with that repetitive post-disco synth line, I could have sworn they were beginning to play Sparks' 'When I'm With You') and another "drone" called 'Partymucke' based on a violin line this time. Not particularly essential but fun to have around.


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