Review Summary: If you missed early Einstürzende Neubauten's earlier work, say hello to a surprising and brilliant re-introduction to Bargeld's wilder side, supported by Germany's leading electronic musician.
ANBB is the recent project by Alva Noto (Glitch artist Carsten Nicolai) and Einstürzende Neubauten frontman Blixa Bargeld, formerly of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. This 18 minute EP is their first release. Bargeld's last words on the EP are 'I wish I was a mole in the ground', and fans of Einstürzende Neubauten's earlier work will be pleased to hear him digging again, as the release's sparse minimalism shows two of the most impressive artists from the last three decades of German music making no compromises and letting common ground find itself.
Let’s start with the sound. Nicolai, also a visual artist, recently took time out of the duo’s brief tour to open his latest exhibition at Schloßplatz in Berlin-Mitte, a project called autoR, which consists of a plain white building and sachets of 10 three-point boomerang style stickers received by each member of the public who chooses to participate in the project. People are then invited to stick them on the outside of the building, with the help of elevated platforms is these are needed. The exhibition at the Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin offers yet another visual insight into Nicolai’s work, because no matter how minimal and vague his music feels, it always feels like there’s something underneath: the sound serves the function of highlighting blank space not as dead nothingness, but as a living and expecting enigma. Like his label mate Frank Bretschneider’s best work, the louder you listen to his music the more you hear the silence, the more you feel the music’s walls submitting. Nicolai’s contribution to Glitch has achieved this arguably more than anybody else, and this record highlights this in a manner only previously hinted at in his Unitxt
release from 2008.
As the record’s more well-known personality, Bargeld’s lyrics are juxtaposed brilliantly with Nicolai’s noise. Ret Marut was a pseudonym of the enigmatic German author B. Traven who is believed to have existed under several different names but never his own, and the Traven reference is just one of the several vague and teasing aspects of the record's lyrical content, handshakes with figures disappearing before eye contact and information. Bargeld's lyrics are as minimal as Nicolai's clicks, static and pops which occasionally develop into nightmarish rhythms ('Electricity is Fiction') shortly after exploring melodic structures in a form of Glitch orchestra ('One', a reworking of Aimee Mann's hit from the film 'Magnolia', with altered lyrics adding a sense of schizophrenia in their rapid combination of broad and empty possible meanings).
Ret Marut Handshake
is a surprising and beautiful contribution from two great artists and at its brief length, one hopes for more as soon as possible. For now, listening to it four times to achieve the length of an LP is a more than satisfying solution.