Einstürzende Neubauten

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Berlin Babylon

Einstürzende Neubauten - Berlin Babylon ©2001 Ourch
1. Berlin Babylon
2. Godzilla In Mitte
3. Overture Mit Helikoptern
4. Walkie Talkie Babylon
5. Trauermarsch
6. Glas I (Sony-Center)
7. Befindlichkeit (Baustellenversion)
8. Der Engel Der Geschichte
9. Beauty (Tiergartentunnel)
10. Glas 2 (Richtfest)
11. Archtektur Ist Geiselnahme
12. Gasteliste
13. Die Befindlichkeit Des Landes

Einstürzende Neubauten is one of those artists where it takes some courage to dip into their extensive and daunting back catalogue. The German outfit began their existence as a truly "industrial" band, using machinery, metal tools, and other items as part of their clanging, noisy assault on the senses. My first attempt at initiation with this band came back in college, with the Strategies Against Architecture '80-'83 compilation. I don't think I sat through the whole collection even once. Over the years, Einstürzende Neubauten has become considerably more palatable my set of ears as the band has chosen more orthodox methods to create music. Many of the band's later releases are much easier to dive in and enjoy, despite still being one of the more unusual outfits around.

Though other recent releases have also caught my attention, Berlin Babylon has founds its way onto my playlist quite often. The album is the soundtrack to the 2001 film of the same name by Hubertus Sieger. Einstürzende Neubauten excels at creating musical landscapes, making them an obvious choice for this sort of project. The album is cohesive from start to finish, moving through throbbing rhythmic portions to ambient soundscapes, using occasional narration along the way. Some of the material is derived from Silence is Sexy, reworked for the film's needs. The album does well at conveying moods throughout, from contemplative to nervous pensiveness. The band's sense of percussion is evidenced, with many objects still being struck.

No doubt there are many jumping in points for a band such as this, depending on your tolerance for all out aural attacks or more gentle approaches to music. For those who might have heard 80s Einstürzende Neubauten and then had a series of nightmares that have only recently receded due to years of intensive therapy, an album like Berlin Babylon is a good way to discover this band can be thoroughly enjoyable in other realms as well.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2006

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Perpetuum Mobile

Einstürzende Neubauten - Perpetuum Mobile ©2004 Mute
1. Ich gehe jetzt
2. Perpetuum Mobile
3. Ein leichtes leises Säuseln
4. Selbstportrait mit Kater
5. Boreas
6. Ein seltener Vogel
7. Ozean und Brandung
8. Paradiesseits
9. Youme & Meyou
10. Der Weg ins Freie
11. Dead Friends (Around the Corner)
12. Grundstück

Compared to the band's earlier years, Perpetuum Mobile is practically an album of soothing lullabies. Long gone are the sounds of a band running higgedly-piggedly through a construction site, throwing power tools willy-nilly into the night sky. Although the band still likes to throw metal objects around to create a clanging dissonance of mechanical mayhem, they seem to have reserved a small corner in the studio for such activities. Rather, Perpetuum Mobile is a collection of deviously twisted songs that are strangely accessible despite the occasional cacophony Einstürzende Neubauten likes to include in the mix.

By 2004, band leader Blixa Bargeld had forsaken much of his shouting and ranting for an understated singing approach that, like this album, is strangely accessible. However weird the style is, Bargeld sells his voice. It's a perfect match for the throbbing, somewhat minimalistic songwriting. The album features occasional moments where they very nearly write a mainstream song (assuming your mainstream is based in the alternate reality of music Terminator cyborgs are the record buying public). "Youme & Meyou" is easily one of the best creations by Einstürzende Neubauten to date. The song is subtle, quiet and very moving. "Dead Friends (Around the Corner)" is yet another bizarre yet entirely memorable song that falls into the category of "Weird Yet Memorable" songs.

Perpetuum Mobile is certainly one of the easier entry points into Einstürzende Neubauten's lengthy back catalogue, particularly if you're leery of their early days as noise merchants. The album contains a powerful variety of moods, dynamics and approaches. I have found myself reaching for this album more than any of their other releases when I'm in the mood to hear the band or wish to introduce them to new listeners. It's definitely a top notch effort that proves the outfit hasn't lost their touch for constantly creating memorable new material.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2010

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