Einsturzende Neubauten

(Photo copyright Thomas Rabsch)

It’s been awhile since we blogged about an oldie but goodie here on TWBITW, so we thought it was high time we give a shout-out to Einstürzende Neubauten. While these German art punks didn’t actually invent industrial music, they probably influenced its development as much as earlier acts like Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire–maybe more, actually. Guys like Trent Reznor and Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy definitely took a few style tips from Neubauten’s tormented, black-clad frontman, Blixa Bargeld.

Einstürzende Neubauten–whose name means “Collapsing New Buildings”–started in Berlin in 1980, and right away, they brought a scary intensity to their music and their live act that made the British industrial acts seems almost polite by comparison. Blixa and his co-conspirators, N.U. Unruh and Alexander Hacke (the most constant members in a rotating cast), liked using power tools and found objects as percussion, and they sometimes took their use of such objects to some pretty wild extremes. Early Neubauten shows tended to look more like construction sites than rock concerts: band members would drill holes in the stage, set fires, swing huge oil drums suspended on chains out over the audience, maybe do a little arc welding–oh and play some distorted, detuned guitar and yell a lot, too.

Eventually, Einstürzende Neubauten’s sound became a little less chaotic and by the mid ’90s, they were producing records like Ende Neu that employed actual recognizable melodies and instruments–though always with plenty of weird noises created on specially made instruments (like the “bassfeder,” a giant steel spring struck with sticks to create a twangy, bass-like sound) and always with Blixa’s distinctive, cadaverous vocals. But it’s those crazy early live shows and wildly experimental, almost unlistenable albums like 1981’s Kollaps that earn them a spot on The Weird List.

Speaking of Kollaps: here’s a video from that album for the Kollaps song “Sehnsucht” from a 1986 film called Halber Mensch, shot while the band was in Japan, that pretty neatly sums up the early Neubauten vibe. (Thanks to reader “tertius” for pointing out the source of this video…our research dept. was clearly falling down on the job when we originally posted it.)


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3 thoughts on “Einsturzende Neubauten

  1. tertius

    Uh, this video is the opening of the Halber Mensch movie. A bit later that Kollaps.

    And I believe F.M. Einheit has his knee wrapped up because of an incident involving a chainsaw on stage (he uses said chainsaw here).

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