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Palais Schaumburg – Palais Schaumburg

Bureau B

I first came across this album in a particularly smelly charity shop in the middlings of the ’90s. Sandwiched between some mouldering ’70s fodder, the massive sans serif Palais Schaumburg red of the slightly worse for wear cover, screaming out 2buy me now, or you’re gonna regret it!” I didn’t know anything about them at the time, my expectations were for some noisy, at the best slightly squiffy, post-punk shenanigans, some half-arsed assumption that was thankfully shattered for the better by the quirky goo that jig-jagged out of my speakers. A comedy of clattering off-kilter angles and retracted drum beetles that sounded more like a Greek plate smashing the further into the album you went. The accompanying Holger Hiller vocals  veering off in all directions, re-writing vocal dynamics like some exasperated/intoxicated Blixa Bargeld or a helium headed dwarf distance zipping on the exhale…

This had, and still has, a mad gleam of pure sunshine about it, a new (no) wave aesthetic that revels in life rather than raging against it. The flip side of the coin to Einstürzende Neubauten and DAF‘s angst-driven demons, I suppose, but sharing that self-same eagerness for disassembling. Sound that seems to be stumbling around its own paradoxical loose ends like some David Byrne crazy joint-popping sliver in a oversized suit, perpetually in a state of toppling. The instrumentation knotting together just enough to stop the giddy momentum from giving into collapse. This is very much like a dyslexic reading a jazz score through a broken mirror, luxuriating in the resulting bizarre concoctions, staccato obliques for a whole host of new dance moves, shapes… Yes this is avant-garde(ness) that you can actually dance to, although you may resemble a epileptic windmill in doing so. I’m miss-hearing the Hiller vocal grease on “Grünes Winkelkanu” … I’m getting “Do you think in Meccano?”… and these boys seem to be doing just that, in fits and starts, swerving obstacles in zig-zags of contrasting bolt-on textures.

Those over-wound drums, wiggy guitar serifs and smearings of trumpet leapt over by whelping vocals are simply superb, a bracket-filled bucket of pop wrongness like “Morgen Wird Der Wald Gefegt.” A Die Tödliche Doris skewer of cerebral satisfaction, with its dry typewriter chucking , cheese grater commas and speedo spray delights. “Eine Geschichte” with its canvas  dribbling dream treacle of slug-formed jazz; “Madonna”‘s multi-tempo shuffle of bassy treadmill eaten up in trafficking guitars and kindergarten piano. Never a dull moment.

This sure packs in the variety, and it seems incredible this is almost 30 years old, which shows how stale and redundant a lot of music has become, drivel that’s falling over itself to fill the Friday night TV – haven’t the producers heard Palais Schaumburg have reformed: yes reformed, incredibly enough… get them on the box now, jolt the anaesthesia, for the sake of our children and their tinny music listening habits.

Honestly this is a blast of Dada(tastic) goodness, that still effectively banishes the beige in bold primaries, the single and live extras completing this exquisite re-offering. Extra gilding to an album that has been in my personal top five ever since that cold’n’miserably bleak November Saturday and something you should definitely get acquainted with immediately if you’ve not already.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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