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Einstürzende Neubauten

Music style: Industrial, Electronica
Band members: Blixa Bargeld (Christian Emmerich), FM Einheit (Frank Martin Strauss), N.U. Unruh (Andrew Chudy), Gudrun Gut, Beate Bartel, Marc Chung, Alexander Hacke
Name means: "Collapsing new buildings"

Named for the collapse of the Berlin Kongresshalle, a post-war construction, the Einstürzende Neubauten made their first appearance in the Moon Club in Berlin in 1980. Using items from the junk yard and from everyday life, the experimental band from Berlin expressed their apolyptic world view in an indistinguishable mix of music and noise. Today their works are more melodious, but no less abstract.

After their successes of the mid-80s, the group distanced itself increasingly from the punk and industrial movements and for the next several years turned to working on projects for the theater. In 1991, the band recorded the soundtrack for dramatist Heiner Müller's theater piece Die Hamletmaschine. The following year they performed in Erich Wonder's Das Auge des Taifun during the Academy of Visual Arts 300th anniversary celebration in Vienna. After their 1999 album Total eclipse of the sun, several long-time band members left the group. With their 20th-anniversary album Silence Is Sexy in 2000, the remaining band members sought to perpetuate the group's earlier successes.

When the Neubauten's label was sold in 2002, their recording contract was not renewed. They were nonetheless able to continue producing music through an Internet project in which fans prepaid online for the CD that was being produced. Supporters could also chat with band members and watch them rehearse online. In 2004, the band was once again picked up by a record label and they did a world tour and released Perpetuum mobile. But the Neubauten have not abandoned their loyal supporters who continue to participate in the band's Internet music publishing experiment. Their official biography Nur was nicht ist, ist möglich, which appeared in 2005, is available only at the band's website or at its concerts.

Einstürzende Neubauten CDs

Perpetuum Mobile (2004) | LISTEN
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Kalte Sterne: Early Recordings (2004) || LISTEN
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9-15-2000 Brussels LIVE (2002) | 2 CDs |
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Strategies Against Architecture 3: 1991-2001 (2001) | 2 CDs || LISTEN
REVIEW: Much like the first and second installments of Einsturzende Neubauten's overview series, Strategies Against Architecture III haphazardly juggles highlights with rarities, live tracks, and unreleased material, doubling as an agreeable state of the union. This third volume covers 1991-2001, a period that saw some upheaval; following the exits of Mark Chung and F.M. Einheit and the death of associate Roland Wolf, Neubauten considered disbanding. Thankfully, the original core of Blixa Bargeld, Alex Hacke, and N.U. Unruh opted to carry on. Throughout the early '90s and into the next decade, the group's sound became less confrontational and less jarring, but it never came close to growing complacent. Neubauten's enduring ability to challenge themselves and their audience while remaining as creative as the day they started finding metallic objects to throttle is well-summarized here. Although much of the extra material collected is on par with the proper LP material they released during the period, the compilation isn't without its frustrations. The running order is completely helter-skelter (perhaps that's part of the point), with no sense of flow whatsoever, perhaps altering the effect of each song in a bad way; the scattered live tracks make listeners crave an entirely live disc that captures the experience of a full show; the detailed notes on each track make listeners wish that a similar setup accompanied their non-compilations; the alternate versions of songs aren't that alternate; Blixa doesn't scream enough (though he never screams enough). All qualms aside, this digest is solidly stocked with fine experimental music that isn't willfully difficult to digest. Another thing to consider is the attached photo bonanza, which depicts everything from some of Neubauten's bizarre musical doohickeys to what appears to be some shots of a family reunion-type event. ~ Review by Andy Kellman, All Music Guide
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Berlin Babylon (2001) || LISTEN
Soundtrack to the film of the same name by Hubertus Sieger.
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Silence Is Sexy (2000) |
REVIEW: Einstürzende Neubauten have long made a career of taking a wrecking ball to the staid towers of musical convention. Their seminal industrial excess having become a musical institution in Germany--aligning them somewhat to the left of Kraftwerk and Can--they turn the wrecking ball on themselves on Silence Is Sexy. Employing aural texture, murmurs, hushed vocals, and, yes, silence, instead of the Sturm und Drang of collapsing buildings, monstrous machinery, and industrial decay, Silence defies all preconceived notions of what an Einstürzende Neubauten album should sound like. The title track manages to imbue long patches of complete silence with a backbeat and groove, proving their titular claim. Blixa Bargeld--perhaps having learned a thing or two about terrible beauty from his work with Nick Cave--imbues his deep-toned vocals with warmth and emotion, and while at moments the music can careen out of control, for the most part it wavers on the lower fringes of the sonic spectrum. Now that the sonic ceiling has been shattered, perhaps EN want to prove the complexity of silence. Ah, but not for long! Accompanying Silence Is Sexy is a second disc featuring the single, seemingly unending composition "Pelikonal," an improvised duet between a repeated vocal phrase and a drill--not much more pleasant than getting root canal. Yikes. ~ Review by Tod Nelson
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Ende Neu Remixes (1997) | LISTEN
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Ende Neu (1996) || LISTEN
REVIEW: Emerging from Berlin at the dawn of the '80s, Einstürzende Neubauten crafted a distinctive postpunk, proto-industrial sound that the group is still expanding on 18 years later. Typically, a Neubauten track combines abrasive machine sounds and the simplest of musical elements--spare bass lines, aggressive chants, thudding beats--to produce surprisingly atmospheric music. Ende Neu's "Was Ist Ist" embodies the band's punk-plus-machine attack, while "Installation No. 1" throbs with the pulse that spawned a thousand industrial groups. But the CD's most striking tracks recall the work of dramatic artists like Leonard Cohen and Serge Gainsbourg more than raging power tools. Not a surprise when you consider that singer-guitarist Blixa Bargeld has played with cabaret rockers the Bad Seeds and that Neubauten members have scored numerous films and theater works. A highlight of the album is the exquisite "Stella Maris"--a lovely duet sung by Bargeld and actress Meret Becker, accompanied by strings! ~ Review by Fred Cisterna
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Faustmusik (1996) || LISTEN
REVIEW: One of the more curious works in Einstürzende Neubauten's long and varied career, 1996's Faustmusik is a close relative of 1991's Die Hamletmaschine, their score for an avant-garde reinterpretation of Shakespeare's play. This play, by Werner Schwab, is more of an oratorio than an opera, with the focus entirely on the recitation and singing of Schwab's German verse by Einstürzende Neubauten's lead singer, Blixa Bargeld (as Mephistopheles, appropriately enough!) and other actors. Einstürzende Neubauten's musical contribution is entirely incidental, and sounds at times like they're merely playing rehearsal tapes for a low-key, nearly ambient album behind the actors. Those who aren't fans of experimental European theater, don't speak German, and are interested primarily in hearing Einstürzende Neubauten's familiar industrial power should look elsewhere, but there's a certain creepy beauty to much of this album, particularly the nightmarish "Das Orchestrion", a slowly building cacophony of voices and drones. ~ Review by Stewart Mason, All Music Guide
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Tabula Rasa (1993) || LISTEN
REVIEW: Despite its title--Latin for "clean slate" but, more likely, a play off the concept of beginning again--Einstürzende Neubauten's seventh full-length is a culmination of everything that has come before for this extraordinary band. Sure, they were known for making hellish noise in their early days, employing rocks, circular saws, and drills in their performances, but they were musicians, too, crafting elegant songs by the late 1980s that still possess an affecting power. Tabula Rasa, released in 1993, contains all these elements and ups the ante considerably. For one thing, it's a much more varied listen than its predecessor, the grimly powerful Haus der Lüge. The exuberantly melodic ("Zebulon") bumps up against the darkly experimental ("12305[te Nacht]") and the outright rockin' ("Die Interimsliebenden"). But the most startling track must be the ethereal "Blume", a sexually charged lullaby that's fraught with the thick layers of symbolism we've come to expect from lyricist Blixa Bargeld. Sung--in English!--by Anita Lane, whose voice registers somewhere near the Cranes' Alison Shaw, it sounds like nothing we've ever heard before from Neubauten. The disc closes with the 15-minute "Headcleaner", a mesmerizing, bombastic, symphonic cacophony that interpolates the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love." It all ends quietly, but your ears may never be the same again. ~ Review by Steve Landau
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Strategien Gegen Architektur II (1991) | LISTEN
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Die Hamletmaschine (1991) |
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Haus der Lüge (1989) || LISTEN
REVIEW: Einstürzende Neubauten's sixth album, 1989's Haus der Lüge, is a real eye-opener as well as a turning point for the Berlin-based band. For one thing, you can hear how much more attention is being paid to rock idioms--clearly an influence from frontman Blixa Bargeld's moonlighting as Nick Cave's guitarist. More important, though, is that the metal bashing, glass breaking, and electric drilling--in many ways the be-all, end-all of the band's early, musique-concrète-influenced sound--is here harnessed in subservience to downright tuneful compositions. The unmistakable message: Hey, we're "real" musicians, too. Still, Neubauten neophytes will undoubtedly find listening to Haus der Lüge a bit like having a dentist clean their ears. The opener, "Prolog", sounds like a German poetry slam held in a subway tunnel, and "Fiat Lux", a 12-minute opus kicked off by 30 seconds of buzzing bees, is bound to get up your bonnet. Elsewhere it's a different story. The beat-heavy "Feurio!" projects an industrial-dance energy, and the lilting "Ein Stuhl in der Hölle" sounds like it was meant to be chanted in a beer hall. But the crowning achievement here is the title track, an epic, foot-stomping, Dantean allegory that culminates with God shooting himself. Simply awe-inspiring. ~ Review by Steve Landau
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Fünf auf der nach oben offenen Richterskala (1987) / Five on the Open-Ended Richter Scale || LISTEN
REVIEW: Imagine a child that's been given a toy with detailed directions. Frustrated with its complexities, the child throws out the directions and chucks the toy against a wall, proceeding to step on it, bite it, smash it, and ultimately break it into as many pieces as he can. Bored with merely making as much noise as possible with the toy, the child begins to examine its parts and how it works. Though the child puts it together in a way that was not intended, the child becomes enamored with the new toy. Fünf is where Neubauten truly grab hold of their broken elements and fashion them into something completely unique and (relatively) contemporary at the same time. Take their sleazy, spaghetti-westernized cover of Tim Rose's "Morning Dew" for instance, and the structured manner in which the record glides by. Very subdued and darkly ambient throughout, it's nowhere near the aural riots of yesteryear. For its lack of cacophony, and as restrained and formed as it is, Neubauten are just as unsettling, gripping, and tension-ridden as ever -- they're just finding a new way to be all of that. You expect the big release during the closer, "Kein Bestandteil Sein", but you don't get it. Fünf is like watching a stalker cleverly follow its prey for miles, only to watch it shy away just short of lodging a knife into the back of the followed. ~ Review by Andy Kellman, All Music Guide
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Halber Mensch (1985) || LISTEN
REVIEW: Though it's a bit less intentionally noisy than previous Neubauten material, Halber Mensch is, in a way, the group's masterpiece. The inspired use of such "traditional" instruments as a grand piano alongside the band's characteristic blazing percussion make for a record similar more to their compositional influences like Stockhausen than their nearest contemporaries, Throbbing Gristle or Cabaret Voltaire. The record that showed Einstürzende Neubauten could rise above the concept of noise for its own sake to reach another level of noise-oriented post-punk music, Halber Mensch is an excellent feat of industrial music. ~ Review by John Bush, All Music Guide
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2 x 4 LIVE (1984) || LISTEN
REVIEW: This is a first-time CD issue of live material from Einsturzende Neubaten's early '80s European concerts. This entire recording was performed prior to their U.S. debut in 1984. The presentation is effective in capturing their organized chaos. Not only their effect on industrial music, but their premonitions in applying ambient and world music voices can be heard here. Surprisingly compositional and collectively whole, it is obvious why 20,000 copies of the cassette edition were sold. I can think of no other Neubauten recordings that are as listenable or that show the group's potential as clearly as this one. A darkly beautiful, orchestrated collision of deep rhythms and debris are pressed into service as music. Included are original and updated liner notes. The only drawback to this collection is the sudden, clipped ending to many tracks. ~ Review by Tom Schulte, All Music Guide
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Strategien Gegen Architekturen (1984) || LISTEN
REVIEW: Strategies Against Architecture, Volume 1 (Strategein Gegen Architekturen) encapsulates German industrial progenitors Einstürzende Neubauten at their rawest and most primordial. This recording--compiled by the band and Jim "Foetus" Thirlwell--includes early singles and previously unreleased cassettes from 1980-83, along with most of the B-sides of the band's first LP, Kollaps. Primal and provocative in its austerity, Strategies... remains hyper-progressive and unmatched almost 15 years after its initial release. Junkyard angst for the apocalypse, Neubauten strips down into broken instruments, buckets, and sheet metal for drums. ~ Review by Esther Yoon
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Die Zeichnungen des Patienten O.T. (1983) / Drawings of Patient O.T. || LISTEN
REVIEW: Dedicated to the compulsory, whimsical, elongated drawings of Oswald Tschirtner (one of the artist-patients in the infamous Gugging, Switzerland, psychiatric hospital's House of Artists) this 1983 recording by Einstürzende Neubauten is among the group's most influential and intense works. It brims with seemingly accidental, childlike, improvised, musique-concrète-inspired noises arranged to subterranean beats, abrupt changes, and electronic pulses. O.T. appears to have been recorded inside some insane person's junkyard: songs are lovingly punctuated by the sound of breaking glass, smashing bricks, bending metal, and vocal cords pushed to their absolute limit. One might hear suggestions of Gavin Bryars (on "Armenia"), Rune Lindblad (on "Die Genaue Zeit"), and Suicide (on "Vanadium-I-Ching"), but that just shows EN's good taste and skill to appropriate other approaches to their own ends. For music fans of their generation, Neubauten redefined the concept of "acceptable" noise within music, allowing the listener to hear the music hidden within virtually any carefully--or at least dramatically--arranged succession of sounds. But for all its importance as a musical breakthrough, O.T. should mostly be praised for the drastic, still vibrant, screaming punk-rock (minus the predictable chord changes) record it is. ~ Review by Mike McGonigal
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Kollaps (1981) |
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Einstürzende Neubauten Weblinks

Einstürzende Neubauten [German and English] - Official band webpage
Blixa Bargeld [German and English] - Official homepage of one of the band's original founding members

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