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Einstürzende Neubauten – Silence Is Sexy

Label: Mute Format: 2CD

Silence Is Sexy- sleeve Neubauten. Yeah, you know, Neubauten. (Somehow, after all this time, it’s kind of easy to forget that there ever was an “Einstürzende” in there at all; we are, indeed, on second-name terms. Thorough familiarity.) Because everyone knows what Neubauten do. They hit stuff, make a racket, and be German. Yeah?

Fuck off. Well, apart from the third one (although there is a great deal of English on this album, as well as – worryingly- some French). And the first one (although they do hit stuff, just… maybe not quite so hard?) And, okay, when a track like “Redukt” hits its peak, they do make a glorious racket (only this time with an additional string section). But you can fuck off, anyway, because this is that rarity – a quiet Neubauten album. Silence is, in fact, sexy, and not for ponces and wusses and John Cage at all, like you may have thought, and Blixa and his gang are here to show us why.

And boy, do they show us why. (This last sentence brings to mind another problem in reviewing Neubauten stuff- if you’re trying to answer the question “How good is this album” then it`s really tricky if the question keeps slipping and slithering and becoming all rhetorical on yo` ass, as in “How fucking good is this album?” But I digress.) And even the quiet ones are Neubauten through and through- wry, menacing, and just a little bit fucking weird. Just as “In Circles” looks set to continue as it began, a kind of These Immortal Souls style thang, there’s a scraping of stuff, and suddenly it becomes DAF with plastic percussion as it bangs straight on into “Newtons Gravitatlichkeit” and thence to “Zampano”, which even manages to turn out to be the actual song, with the others just buildup – it’s kind of hard to explain, but then, it’s in German which I don’t speak and it’s partially played on amplified pneumatic piston and electric signal horn installations, so it bloody well should be.

Whimsy? Oh, ja, we got a whole bunch of that, too. From Blixa’s pioneering use of cigarette as musical instrument on the title track to his cheery and cheeky little drinking song “Musentango” (which is kind of like a nicer cousin of Haus der Lüge‘s “Ein Stuhl In Der Hoelle”) there’s as much merriment as menace. Oh yeah, there’s a fair bit of the latter, too, in case you were worried. Of course, with Nick Cave increasingly looking towards the solitary pleasures (eh?) of the piano, Blixa finds room to do a whole shitload of his trademark slide guitar here, notably on “Die Befindlichkeit des Landes”, which sounds like some kind of steel bug (a bit like one of the moths on Lexx, I would guess) flying through a slow steelworks at night, for some reason. Or possibly the sun rising over a rainforest made entirely of railings. Or maybe not. Sorry, I haven’t had much sleep.

Another slow-burner is “Sonnenbarke”, which builds from a single bass figure (kind of like …Richterskale‘s rendition of Nancy & Lee‘s “Sand” into a chunky percussion-driven meisterwork of a machine. Only still fairly restrained, but in the sense of being held back; controlled. Barely. So, yeah, it’s still art, but you can still listen to it for pleasure rather than out af any kind of sense of cultural duty. In fact, if you will excuse my appallingly phonetic spelling for a moment, it could be said that Neubauten are indeed `Avin’ it Garde. (If you read that last sentence out loud it’s funnier. Not much, unfortunately. Sorry.) Moving swiftly on, we get “Alles”, subtitled “Ein Stuck im alten Stil” (“A Piece In The Old Style”), which wouldn`t sound out of place on Tabula Rasa, although may still be a little too tuneful for Kollaps. And, of course, what recent Neubauten album would be complete without the obligatory epic? This time they give it a CD to itself (it’s about twenty minutes long) and call it “Pelikanol”. Metal is duly hit (underwater, by the sound of things, only probably not really) and somehow ends up sounding like very big bedsprings, bringing to mind s more surreal (yowza!) take on that bit in Delicatessen. You know, the bit with the bed. Yeah, that bit. And much humming. It`s spooky. Oh, yes indeedy.

So, yeah. Neubauten. Still hitting stuff. Still making a racket. Still being German. Only quieter than before.

-Deuteronemu 90210, godfather of modern industry and things with cogs-

P.S. Did I mention: Still fucking brilliant?

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