zappa phaze two
Essential Zappa: Phaze Two
ween comp
Understanding Boognish:
The Best of Ween
drag comp
Drag: A Witch House
Essential Zappa: Phaze One
Radiohead Album Series
It Took the Night to Believe
Killing in Style
Cadillac Casanovas
A Night in the Box
Brasil, Para Sempre!
Same As It Ever Was:
The Best of Talking Heads
Universe Dirt
The Best of
American Music Club
The New Dance
Cut the Kids in Half
Machines of Canterbury
Archimedes Said It Best
The Early Rock of
West Germany
Music from
the Republic of Iceland
Take Me Back:
The Best of M. Ward
The Best of...
Of Montreal
Dust & Diamonds
The Best of
Sigur Ros
The Hall of Mirrors

Imaginary Sounds Feature: Einstürzende Neubauten

Out of fire; Out of chaos. Out of the mud, rubble, metal, rivets, and splintered wood. Ash of burnt food, linoleum and dreams. There is a peace of nothing; absence of movement and breathing. Even the usual current of wind stopped short by rubbled monolithic buildings. Rows of corporate churches stopped short of worship. Nothing where there was once something. Nothing caused by something. Was it in direct opposition; like a revolution or a mutiny? Or was it simply a necessity; a natural progression toward simplicity and ultimately perfection?  In 1980 came the storm.

On a makeshift stage in Berlin a group of like-minded artists performed under the name Einstürzende Neubauten ("Collapsing New Buildings") for the first time as a performance art collective. Somewhere in the collective media-obsessed shallow eyed mass a butterfly flapped it's wings and created a hurricane within this group of people made of blood-curdling screams, home-made power tools, and raw percussion atop any junk metal that could be found.
The term "Industrial" that would come to describe the music scene they were pioneering could not have been any more literal
. The group scrounged around construction sites and scrap yards to find whatever material they could find to fashion their instruments out of. Frontman Blixa Bargeld fueled the storm with apocolyptic tinged lyrics about destruction, illness, and death. By the end of the 80s the group had developed a considerable reputation for their riotous live shows and anti-pop ethos. A strike was called against all casual listening patterns and mediocrity and it would have no mercy for almost 10 years; creating many milestones and blueprints for Industrial music and avant-garde sound experiments alike.
We're not here, though, to talk about the storm. We're here to talk about debris and silence. In 1983, after 3 albums with Neubauten, Blixa Bargeld joins Australian no-wave band The Birthday Party as a side project. The Birthday Party's line-up includes a young Nick Cave, and when the band breaks up within the year, Bargeld follows Cave over to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Here we see the storm begin to quell, and the effects begin to show.

On 1985's Halber Mensch, the band pulled the reigns tighter on song structure and
melody. By the 7th album, 1993s Tabula Rasa, the silence rips through the smoke and calls our attention to it's tell-tale prominence. Bargeld and the band also changed their image. Once clad in torn up, DIY punk gear, the band began wearing tailored suits. Tabula Rasa added a welcome air of ambience and subtlety to the intensity and neurotic charge of the band's former work. Song's began to take their time, and not rely on sheer anger to get the point across. But of course, the silence occasionally remembered the storm; there were still flairs of anger and power. They were only memories though; flashbacks that had become part of the psyche of the aftermath, not an entirely different event.

Einstürzende Neubauten - Blume
Track Blume starts out and pulls us in with a harmonic guitar melody that serves as an anchor to the entire song. Guest Anita La
ne serves as our guide, Bargeld only coming into the mix intermittently to accompany the melody with airy humming that's quite honestly a little creepy. Anita tells us that she would be various uncanny flowers, not for any reason, but for us. A dedication that is either strangely beautiful or quite creepy. Or both. This song is an early showcase of Neubauten's ability to hinge an entire song on maybe one or two elements, something that becomes very important in the band's minimalist sound.

Einstürzende Neubauten - 12305(te Nacht)
12305(te Nacht) starts as if things are about to get noisy, but is quickly reigned in by a bass frequency that sounds more like controlled feedback than a note played on a string; an example of Neubauten still using homemade experimental instruments.


8th album Ende Neu, released in 1996, saw the group receiving quite a bit of positive attention. Bargeld's duet with Meret Backer Stella Maris became an international hit and spurred a world tour for the group. Ende Neu is incredibly varied and contains some of Neubauten's most minimalist tracks, and some of the most aggressive concepts and tones in some time. Many show a deep inspiration from Krautrock greats such as Neu! and Can, with driving beats and hypnotic melodies, something that seemed to be in evolution for a long time.

Einstürzende Neubauten - Stella Maris
Already mentioned Stella Maris was at the time one of the most commercially viable songs Neubauten had ever released. That of course seems entirely coincidental because it is a wonderful song, a song that you know is a love song without understanding a word of German. The song starts out simply enough, pulled along by that iconic bass, but is lifted toward the end by violins and cellos pulling it into the stratosphere and then dropping it to a soft finale.

Einstürzende Neubauten - The Garden
The Garden is without a doubt Neubauten's most minimalist song. Most of it including only 3 elements; a steady beep for rhythm, sliding bass, and Bargeld's mantra, telling us where he can be found. His descriptions become increasingly darker as the song goes on, hinting that this hiding place is a place of solace while waiting for the end.

Einstürzende Neubauten - Sabrina
4 years after Ende Neu came Silence is Sexy and another decidedly minimalist track. Sabrina is focused on Bargeld's covetous mantra, wishing for something it seems he can not have, and can not even describe specifically. Like Stella Maris before it, Sabrina ha
s the feel of a love song but one that may not have the same positive message. We don't know if he is ever satisfied by his wishes. The end suggests not.


In 2003, Bargeld left Nick Cave & The Bad Seed
s to tour with Neubauten and focus on the songs that would be on the next album. During this era Neubauten began experimenting with air, air compressors, and whistles. In 2004 Perpetuum Mobile was released. Surely their most subdued and ambient album, this is where we see that the silence makes a mark as Einsturzende prove they are masters of tight minimalist song writing and deep ambient textures.

Einstürzende Neubauten - Youme & Meyou
Youme & Meyou starts out with a subtle but driving beat with a story of travel to accompany. Bargeld speaks of tw
o different characters and their wants as if they are a part of the same whole, like an id to an ego compromising for the better of both. One of the more lyrically driven songs of their catalog, strange as usual but sensual and mysterious as Bargeld increases the seriousness in the events; he speaks of a "them" in the mix and the song increases in intensity hinting at a conflict of interest.

Einstürzende Neubauten - Dead Friends (Around the Corner)
A meditation on mortality and what may be the sound of the band nearing it's 30th anniversary, Dead Friends is Neubauten looking back to old habits in their sty
le. The metal instruments are more obvious in the song's bridge and the guitar work is much more apparent than in previous tracks, the crescendo at the end escalating to a point where the old anger and thrashing could break out again. It stops short of course, possibly as
an indication of the future.

Perpetuum Mobile was the last proper album Einsturzende Neub
auten released until 2007 when Alles Wieder Offen was released independently with help from supporters. Just 3 years from what would be their 30th anniversary, the band proved that they were not done releasing amazing music. And they weren't done with the memories of the storm. Sometimes, it seams, that the memories and the years of subconscious suppression can cause another storm of it's own.

Einstürzende Neubauten - Weil Weil Weil

Early video of the band. From the 1986 film Halber Mensch. Evidence of the hectic noisy style they started with.

Music video for Stella Maris with English translation of lyrics.

Minimalist video for the minimalist masterpiece The Garden.

Hilarious collection of videos with Bargeld reading commercials for a German hardware store.

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