This should have come as no surprise. Blixa Bargeld has been touring incessantly with Nick Cave, the lush “Stella Maris” was released as a herald, and percussionist/madman F.M. Einheit has spoken of his increasing dissatisfaction with Neubauten’s musical progression. I heard that he left the band, but he’s here, albiet a more subdued presence, playing a metal plate, a tank, brushes, and various other forms of metallic scrap. Even knowing all of these little tidbit/portents didn’t prepare me for the deep disappointment I felt upon listening to Einsturzende Neubauten . Groups SHOULD be allowed to change style, especially a group like Einsturzende Neubauten. For fuck’s sake, they revolutionized the face of modern music. Neubauten were bringing cement mixers and drills on stage as instruments when most of our current crop of industrialists were still grooving to the Bangles and Culture Club. But this record is just lacking disorder and entropy, it’s too mannered, almost too elegant.
First grudging admission first, “Stella Maris” is an absolutely captivating and timeless song, no matter how you look at it. This song takes the term melancholy to new heights of suicidal grandeur. Blixa, strings, female vocals, pulls you underwater to drown quietly. The rest of the album is mostly Neubauten-lite. The songs are song-y, guitars are in tune, lyrics are not screamed in the throes of agony. However, all songs remain in German and that there is barely one conventional percussion instrument utilized, and yet…
Some mention must be made of 11-minute epic “NNNAAAMMM”– which is unlike anything else I have ever heard. It’s a rhythmic collage built around the continual chant of “New No Age Advanced Ambient Motor Music Machine,” augmented by a grinding array of mechanical motors all distorted and humming.
“Der Schacht Von Babel” takes the understated tone of the whole album and turns it into a masterpiece of restrained panic-attack tension. That’s three brilliant bits and nothing else really sticks in my head. Something is missing here. Einsturzende Neubauten is conclusive proof of the chaos theory in quantum physics — out of disorder, a natural system of order will inevitably arise. And just like quantum physics, this record is difficult to sit through without stifling a yawn.
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