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coverpic flag Germany - Full Moon 43 - 04/18/00

Einstürzende Neubauten
Silence is Sexy
Zomba / Mute Records

Here is a new album from our favorite noise makers Einstürzende Neubauten, right in time for their 20th stage anniversary. For twenty years they have been hammering away on sheet metal, concrete, plastic bins and numerous other non-musical instruments, playing with electric and pneumatic drills and shopping carts, molding every noise imaginable into music and thereby extending the borders of music into never heard regions. Twenty years of work have left their traces in all areas of pop and rock, noise and natural sounds in music have become a commodity. So it was about time for the band to re-evaluate their position. And when noisy music has become omnipresent, the logical reaction would be silence, as indicated by the album title.

The musical shift was further triggered by the departure of two long-term members during the work on the last album and inclusion of two new musicians before the recording of the new one. And while twenty years ago Einstürzende Neubauten have started as dilettantes and autodidacts, the replacement members come from a more sophisticated musical background in the semi-instrumental guitar rock band Die Haut, which leads to a more conventional approach to the music on this album. Obviously the shift in their musical working methods had a definite influence on singer Blixa Bargeld's lyrics as well. Formerly his lyrics were sparse multi-layered statements rich on symbolism and word play, whereas on this album he fully explores his lyrical side, lazing around in verbosity, but still offering many cross references which put the lyrics in perspective as part of a whole album.

The album starts rather conventionally with Sabrina, a mellow soft pop song carried by slide guitar, vibraphone and a string section. Rather surprising from a band with Einstürzende Neubauten's reputation, but nobody would even turn his head if this was played as background music in a bar. The title track begins quite fitting with a long period of silence, broken only by the sounds of smoking a cigarette. Slowly, through singing it builds up to the final bursts of percussion, but the rather un-melodic chorus prevents the song from becoming a catchy tune.

In Circles and the silly but funky Newtons Gravitätlichkeit are short and rather unmemorable pseudo-scientific songs. The first real highlight is Zampano with a driving techno rhythm which is interrupted every now and then by a completely un-melodious but rather funny car horn installment, accompanied by pneumatic pistons and other machine sounds. Heaven is of Honey and Beauty are two more soft tracks, the former is a generic tearjerker, the letter a sparse recitation over sparse music.

For once they get it all right on Die Befindlichkeit des Landes, easily the best track on the album. A driving metallic rhythm, a catchy melody and quite fitting lyrics on the current state of Neubauten's home town Berlin, the newly reconstructed capital of Germany ("The new temples are already cracked... future ruins... one day grass will also grow over this city..." - pure genius, especially coming from a band with a name that means "Collapsing New Buildings").

The next track Sonnenbarke once more wallows in schmaltz, even though plastic percussion and the metallic wings of a jet turbine add a certain edge. Musentango is just plain silly, a chanson-like showcase of Neubauten's sense of humor, not really funny at all. Another highlight is Alles, a heavy percussive driving track, including bass playing with a vibrator. The track is really enjoyable throughout, so it's rather disturbing that Neubauten gave it the subtitle A piece in the old style, just as if they had to excuse for including a good song on this uneven album. The next track Redukt is a lengthy and mostly calm song with metallic rhythms and a string quartet with eruptive choruses.

The title Dingsaller is a word play on the word "Allerdings" (however), the music consists of a choir of the band members with sparse instrumentation. The last track differs on the various editions of this album. The Mute version distributed in most parts of the world has the mellow pop song Total Eclipse of the Sun, the Zomba version for German speaking countries (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) get Anrufe in Abwesenheit instead where Blixa is singing children's rhymes over cut-ups of answering machine messages and the band's studio conversations.

The first edition of this album comes with a limited bonus CD with just one 18 minute track called "Pelikanol", a mantric invocation of childhood memories of the smell of school glue. The repetitive musical background is supplied by an installation of metal stripes powered by an electric drill. Towards the end Blixa is also exploring some of the cut-up and replay techniques of his Rede/Speech vocal solo performances. This is also the only place on the album where Blixa lets us hear one of his famous screams.

Overall impression: It is a good album compared to other rock and pop albums out there, but a rather uneven effort by the standard set by other Neubauten records, moments of genius alternate with mediocre pop songs.

Copyright © 2000 Lonely Locke e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Einstürzende Neubauten article/review: Ende Neu.

© 2011 Luna Kafé