Einstürzende Neubauten is a musical force from Germany, generally billed as an avant-garde musical act working in the subgenre of industrial music. Frontman Blixa Bargeld is probably more famous nowadays for going on to form The Bad Seeds with Nick Cave, but from 1980 to present Einstürzende Neubauten has carved their own unique cult fanbase all over the world for their use of custom percussion, intense, destructive-to-the-venues-they-play-in live performances and bringing exotic, foreign textures to the table of noise music. For this they are often seen as an essential act of the genre, at least an offbeat experiment which is certainly not to be missed.
, at times known as ½ Mensch which in English is supposed to mean "Half Man" is the third studio album from the group (or the fourth if you count the groups unofficial and very rare Stahlmusik
instead of Kollaps
as the first). It's a fairly restrained effort, there is nothing quite as maniacal as the one track with a jackhammer used as an instrument on Kollaps
but it doesn't quite meet the standard of groups work in the 90's on albums such as Tabula Rasa
for softer, more acoustic guitar based experimentation. Halber Mensch
lies perhaps somewhere in between, but still leaning more towards the noisy, intense side of EN's earlier work. Which is a good thing.
opens as a choir chant, which is awesome and all but we get to the good stuff with Yu-Gung (Futter mein Ego)
. The song features some slinky synth work over a hypnotic percussion loop, as Blixa chants "futter mein ego" (feed my ego
) over and over eventually working up to a shout. There is a heavy German accent to their native lyrics, which is particularly pronounced during moments like Trinklied
. Most of the stuff here is rhythmic centered, built around the unusual custom kits the group assembles from found material with some bass hooks anchoring them, plenty of layered noise, electronic sounds and lots of repetition. Anticipation rides high on the thundering drums of Seele Brent
, using plenty of silence to breath in between with some chiming keys spicing things. It builds up to a nice climax.
Sehnsucht (zitternd), Der Tod ist ein Dandy
and the 9 minute long Das Schaben
show the noise side of the band off a bit, with some raw, harsh compositions that are difficult to listen to but enthralling all the same. Letztes Biest (am Himmel)
manage to be the two softest songs on the album, but neither hardly qualify for easy listening as the first shows a strong dark ambient influence off and the latter something of an unusual ballad sung in English accompanied by the bands trademark splatter-bang-crash sense of atmosphere.
Einstürzende Neubauten is a hard act to pin down, from the act of even learning to pronounce and remember the correct spelling of their name to the music itself, it is a challenge. Not a challenge that should be met with trepidation and disdain, mind you, rather a worthwhile effort that is worth investing your time in. They are certainly one of the more interesting cult acts to come out of the industrial and avant-garde music scenes, that's for sure.