Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Einstürzende Neubauten "Tanz Debil"

German avantgarde/industrial pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten came out with their first album "Kollaps" in 1981, and "Tanz Debil" is the opening track. You get the pleasure of getting beaten over the head with junk percussion, weird machine sounds, distorted vocals, etc. Sounds like any other industrial record you ever heard? Well, this isn't Revco, Ministry, etc. This is something much more raw and...hmmm...primal?

I only became aqquainted with "Kollaps" a few years ago, and was surprised by a lot of elements sounding quite contemporary - like some of the tricks pulled by newer, computerbased artists. And EN certainly did not "do" computers back then, they preferred stuff like pneumatic drills and hammers, steel pipes, busted electric guitars, etc. Supposedly their stageshow once caused structural damage to the now defunct venue "Ungdomshuset" in Copenhagen. Defunct...it was in fact demolished by the authorities not long ago. How ironic.
Founding member Blixa Bargeld of course joined Nick Cave's Bad Seeds during the 80's, but remained with Einstürzende Neubauten, who continue to release music to this day. Other standout tracks are "Negativ Nein", "Hören Mit Schmerzen", the Serge Gainsbourg mock-cover "Jet'M", title track "Kollaps", "Sehnsucht" - the list goes on. A classic.

Download it: Kollaps

Get the cd: Kollaps

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lee Scratch Perry - "Blackboard Jungle"

Dub is for certain one of those sound-for-the-sake-of-it genres, and Lee Scratch Perry is one of the masters. Now, I'm a bit unsure of this version - the video says "Upsetters", but as Perry was known to use this name as a moniker both for his record label and for whatever constellation of musicians happened to be around the studio at the time of recording, it's difficult to say what's what here:

But anywho - this is the real deal. A multitrack recording of some reggae song is picked apart and put back together sort of randomly, but usually with the original vocal tracks left out...and most of everything else, except the bass and drums.
A bit of organ finds it's way in there too, but most of the spice on the track is weird soundeffects courtesy of Perry, who has his fun clinking bottles together, making air-raid siren sounds, percussive clicking and plopping (with his voice), etc. everything is then processed through good old fashioned tape echo - and what sounds like spring reverb, resulting in spacy goodness. And let's not forget the intro - Perry's weird, guttural death rattle (or whatever it is).
Recommended? Oh yes it is.

Dub-Triptych from Trojan records is a good collction which features the album "Blackboard Jungle", as well as two other albums by Perry - "Dub Revolutions," and "Cloak And Dagger". A good one!

Mp3 here: Dub-Triptych

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Kraftwerk - "Die Roboter"

Came across this great performance of "Die Roboter" (The Robots) on german tv.
Notice the cool makeup, the weird homemade electronic instruments, the sharp looking outfits, and the vocoded drawl when Ralf Hütter sings the word "Roboterrrr...".
Too cool for words is what it is.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Kraftwerk - "The Man Machine"

Yeah - I know. It's Kraftwerk, the band that pioneered electro, techno, inspired hiphop legend Afrika Bambaataa to record "Planet Rock", and so on, and so forth. Nothing new in that.
So why not just revel in the band itself, and it's sound? Yessir, coming up.

1978's Man-Machine is a perfectly good example of what they were good at in their heyday: Minimal electronic beats, sprinkled with cold - even clinical, synth melodies and topped off with minimal and sometimes naive lyrics sung with detachedment and heavy german accent (in the german-market version "Mensch-Maschine" the lyrics are of course in german).
This record has everything I like about electronic music: Meditative/hypnotic beats, simple tunes, inventiveness in sound design, and most importantly - lots of space for the sounds to breathe! "Man-Machine" has so many gorgeous sounds, but still the compositions are sparse enough in their (as Frank Zappa would say) "statistical density", that there is actually time to enjoy the sounds themselves. A high rate of repetition of the little melodies, single-notes and simple rythmic elements helps in that respect too.

Standout tracks for me would have to be opening track "The Robots" (try listening to this one LOUD on big speakers!), "Neon Lights", and title track "The Man-Machine". But really, it's all great. The most famous song on this album is, without a doubt, "The Model", and it's alright. But compared to the rest, it feels kinda like the hit song that "had to be on the album", but doesn't fit in 100%. I'm probably wrong though, and it is a good song.
Do yourself a favor and listen to this highly original piece of electronica.