Posts Tagged ‘music’

Einsturzenden Neubauten

Posted: June 11, 2022 in John Stammers Page



2004 should have been the year of Germany’s industrial music pioneers Einsturzende Neubauten.
It was the year their trailblazing album Perpetuum Mobile was released. So what went wrong?

History got in the way. Or rather, their history.

Their history stakes their claim on dissonance, on stadium stage-wrecking concerts using road drills, industrial machinery and off cuts, on clanging, banging, headache sounds.

But anyone who heard 1980’s STAHLVERSION, a live recording of rhythmic beats and drumming on the metal casing of an autobahn overpass, will attest to greater things to come.

Ok, it took a long time to come: things had to be done first. But in 2004 the fruits of those earlier plantings bloomed, and bloomed wonderfully. This was a classic album, in every sense of the word.
And not so unprepared for: the earlier two albums, Ende Neu of 2001, and Silence Is Sexy of 2003, lay out new, more generally accessible areas of harmonics and melodies to be explored.
Perpetuum Mobile is at some levels a collaboration between the band and fans: pieces were put out on net pages for dedicated fans to respond to, suggest what worked, what could happen next.
This resulted in a still industry-heavy sound, but one capable of greater subtlety and harmony.

The title-piece is an extended exploration of our continually more mobile lifestyle, and its changes and effects on the ways we live and view the world. It is still utilising industrial machinery: air compressors, plastic tubes, amplified steel wire; but also coming to the fore is greater use of electronic loops, standard guitar and organ.
The piece goes through a number of dramatic tonal shifts, sustained by the same driving/’travelling’ rhythm throughout.

Boreas is an ethereally breathy piece, evocative of the strange brittle brilliance of the aurora. Surprised? Oh, yes: greater subtlety, see?

And the more accessible Dead Friends (Around the corner), although no doubt alienating some of the band’s older fans, could not have done better to win more mainstream airplay.
The overall tone is experiment tempered by maturity: industry and melody. And it works.




It’s when you think back and say: However did that happen? And then all manner of half memories, false memories come nudging forward.

So, if I am honest – I have no idea.

We were still young then, early twenties; then suddenly he was there, tall, very lean, long straight hair, round glasses. Not that prepossessing, perhaps?  No, that was probably me. But he carried a certain something about him, the mystique of promise, an undefined sense of being someone with a Future.

I remember he crashed at my place one night. We had him play at our local folk club: he was a pianist, and luckily their rickety box was in tune. It was then we knew what it was about him. Not only was he an excellent pianist, but a cracking good songwriter as well. I still remember some of those songs from … well, a good many years ago now.

He had great performance skills, great charisma: he was alive in his music, larger than life.

Shortly after we heard he’d made the break, skipped out to London. He had to, there was nothing for him in the back places of the north.

Then an album: Kid in a Big World.

There he was on the cover looking Completely different! Shorter hair, shirt-and-tie… was that a suit?! I always have thought suits an invention of the devil. Ok, we understood the business, how it can make you turn inside out if it wants to.

What happened? It was the heyday of the Radio 1 dj: they could break any band or singer, if they fitted in with the sound. If they didn’t, then no chance.

The radio didn’t like his album singles: Goodbye Suzie (“Depressing”); Family Man (“Too anti-marriage”).

He had a three-record deal, the second was not developed, just shelved; the third, fell into silence on release. He just couldn’t get any air play.

He gave gigs, performed, pushed himself, did the business; but no dice. He went the route from in front of mixing desk to behind it. Arranging for other people. He’d be good at that; his own arrangements were always excellent. He hung on in there for some time. Still trying to crack the business. Still getting nowhere.

But it just didn’t make sense: he had great talent; he was doing the right stuff – what was the prob?

Someone whispered in his ear: he was too ‘out’ for those backward days: they didn’t like his openly gay-ness: you had to be secretive, stifled and tormented.

Eventually he packed it in! Can you imagine what that must have felt like?

But of course he couldn’t; started playing small clubs, performing – you just don’t finish, like that.

His arrangements were inventive, some would say ‘lush’ but I wouldn’t. He could match Bowie in his own way. Then came the lean years, and punk. He was no way punk.

It would come as no surprise he and his partner got out again – Spain this time. His own studio to work in; a local recording studio to put it on tape.

And then rediscovered!

Can you imagine – the queries suddenly coming in out of nowhere? Reissued that first album – and it started selling!

He’s pumped out the albums since then. Great stuff, too: live shows, and studio recordings. For a taster try his Soundscapes: v highly recommended!

He has his own webpage; has his own YouTube channel.

At last we can say it: The lad done good!