The first week of Einsturzende Neubauten’s new album “Alles Wieder Offen” has resulted in impressive airplay. The record debuted on the CMJ Top 200 at #129! Eighteen stations gave the record enough play to chart it in their Top 30 lists. Of those eighteen, eight were priority stations.
The title of this album translates into “everything open again,” especially fitting considering that this band have been going for nigh on three decades and continue to evolve. Many a younger band would be delighted with this as a debut, let alone the 20-oddth studio album of a consistently innovative career, not just musically but also the very means by which a record is made. With Radiohead taking a leaf from their book in terms of cutting out the record label middleman, this album is as much a statement of the healthy state of independent music as it is a fine collection of songs.
The fact that Alles Wieder Offen was fully funded by the fans and recorded without any constraints, artistic or otherwise, could have lead to two very different situations: the first being a turgid, self-indulgent mess or the second being a quality work of art done with the full respect for those who have helped and trusted them with their money. Granted Neubauten’s track record of exceptional album after exceptional album weighs the odds in their favour but it is always great to hear the final results and confirming that yes indeed, they have spent our investments well. How a similar model would work for a less established artist is unclear (a fan base is undeniably necessary) but it is still a forthright middle finger displayed proudly in the direction of the record industry.
Everything may be open again but not everything is completely new. Like the Kurt Schwitters- esque collage that graces the album’s cover, many of the songs take bits and pieces from Neubauten’s past and superimposes them on the new material. Musical and lyrical elements from older songs like “Sehnsucht” and “Redukt” make appearances in new guises. Out of the ten songs on Alles Wieder Offen, two will be familiar to anyone who has been following their subscription only releases. The opening track, “Die Wellen,” was first released on the piano only album Klaviermusik. Here the vocals and piano are supplemented with a throbbing bass and percussion rhythm, propelling the song on and on until it topples over a precipice and ends suddenly and dramatically.
This is followed by the second familiar song which is also one of the finest songs to come out of Neubauten’s bunker since the band’s inception. “Nagorny Karabach” was originally performed and recorded at a concert for neubauten.org supporters in Berlin three years ago. Taking the original live take from that night, the band have added some very slight overdubs and Bargeld has finished the lyrics. The finally completed song is beautiful; a tender bass line by Alex Hacke provides a canvas for Bargeld’s new and improved lyrics. E-bow guitar and a stripped jet engine played with brushes complete the magical sound.
I could go through the album track by track as each song has enough ideas to it to warrant a paragraph of its own but I will rein myself in. Only one of the songs disappoints: the music to “Ich Hatte ein Wort” sounds a little like something from The Lion King, I cannot help but imagine antelope galloping across the Savannah in time to this song. Aside from that, Alles Wieder Offen is faultless. Those expecting any return to the confrontational Neubauten of old will of course be disappointed, this should be obvious but there still seems to be a core group of people out there who expect the group to revert to their older, wilder style. To those with open ears, it is clear that Neubauten are still as cathartic and evocative as they have always been; “Weil Weil Weil” and “Let’s Do it a Dada” are their big ‘hits’ like “Feurio!” and “YÃ¼ Gung” of yesteryear, “UnvollstÃ¤ndigkeit” and “Ich Warte” are the sounds of the band looking forward again. As much as I am enjoying this present work, I too continue to look forward to what the future will bring. John Kealy/Brainwashed 10/7/07
The new Einsturzende Neubaten record Alles Wieder Offen has found a home in my steady rotation. The release date on this record is October 23 in the US. After 27 years together they have really had an amazing journey. This disc was funded by their subscribing supporters and released on their own Potomak label. The subscribers had web video access and even discussed and tried to direct the creative process over 200 days of recording.
This album has so many attractions for me. The music is industrial and modern in a softer, more accessible vein than earlier works of the band. The first track ramps with a fade-in that can trick you at first. Turn up the disc too early and you’ll be blasted (nice idea), let it grow naturally and it’s like easing on to the Autobahn, slowly gaining speed in your well-crafted Mercedes until you slowly slip onto the fast lane. Before you realize, you’re looking at your speedometer and it’s out of control.
The polish on this record floats you over the cement highway with a natural and urban soundscape that works in these modern, disturbing times. Nothing is out of place; all the instruments sit perfectly in the mix.
The second song Nagorny Karabach sounds like a beautiful Mogwai tune which pulses with resounding elements of cedar trees breathing in an oceanic gale in Monterey. It’s my favorite piece on the disc.
The voice is the real captain of this record. The music sets the ambience and the Germanic chanting and singing form the character. The authoritative god-like voice sings and speaks from an older perspective, providing the steering. Some of the disc is in English, but it’s really the mysteriousness of the German language that holds the listener enrapt, allowing open interpretations of the emotive qualities through the voice, the tone, and the colors in a way that creates a more open-ended experience for the listener.
Amazingly produced, there is nothing that distracts from the experience of the song, the album and the cryptic messages of the band. Often the repetition in the lyrics allows you to sing along and imagine you have some idea of the theme.
The artwork is a a modern psychedelic explosion of pleasure filled with reds and metals in a collage style that expresses the music well. The picture on the back of the disc reflects the vastness of their music and the relative smallness of the people in the band. It’s a huge warehouse wall with the five band members, so small against. They look like a cluster of black holes within the immense backdrop of space; all grays and darkness with splashes of artistic reds.
This ten song, 53 minute disc is a pleasant listen, well crafted and filled with just the right amount of passion and existentialism. Eric Nielsen/Blogsandiego.com 9/21/07
German industrial purists EinstÃ¼rzende Neubauten may have seemingly sat dormant since their last release, 2004’s Perpetuum Mobile, but on the contrary, they have been as busy and prolific as ever. Free from record label constraints since 2002, the band launched a behind-the-scene series of supporter projects, each a fan-funded venture to record and release a series of musical experiments over a set course of time. Over ten discs worth of material was created as the band lay silent in the public’s eye, and now they’re ready to rise forth again with the upcoming release of Alles Wieder Offen (translation: “All Open Again”), their tenth ‘official’ studio album on their own independent label, Potomak.
Those familiar with Neubauten’s illustrious supporter projects will also be familiar with some of the material that appears on Alles Wieder Offen, for the ten-track record features sound bytes, backing tracks, and a handful of compositions from their supporter releases, most notably the 8-part Musterhaus series. This is not a simple compilation of past recordings, however, for Alles Wieder Offen expands on previous ideas and offers up fresh ones, and the majority of the record is comprised of unique tracks. Just like the previous few Neubauten albums, the sound of Alles Wieder Offen is much less abrasive and confrontational than their classic 80’s output, but there’s a more subdued yet powerful aesthetic with the inclusion of pianos and string instruments alongside their usual marriage of modern technology, organic percussion, and singer Blixa Bargeld’s vocal experimentations. Also unlike past efforts, Blixa’s harsh wail is more calculated, rhythmic, and direct. There are pieces that meander skillfully, like piano-centered opener ‘Die Wellen,’ which beautifully builds to an abrupt conclusion. However, songs such as ‘Let’s Do It a Dada’ and lead-off single ‘Weil Weil Weil’ throb and pulse with dance floor rhythms and infectious grooves, even if they happen to be steel-based and unconventional. In the end, though EinstÃ¼rzende Neubauten may not be reinventing the wheel with Alles Wieder Offen, they have certainly recorded an album worth their supporters’ (and even their more casual fans’) fiscal input, and one that shall sit boldly beside previous efforts. Frank Deserto/Jerseybeat.com
Experimental Berliners EinstÃ¼rzende Neubauten will release Alles Wieder Offen– their 20 gazillionth album in a career that has spanned gazillions of years– via their own Potomak label tomorrow (October 23) in the U.S. (it’s already out in Europe).
The title of the record, the official public follow-up to 2004’s Perpetuum Mobile, translates to “all open again,” which refers to the fact that the band has taken almost all matters related to the album into its own hands.
The reason the phrase “official public” modifies the “follow-up” above is that Neubauten released over 10 albums since Perpetuum Mobile came out. These albums were self-released to subscribers to the band’s website (creepily called Supporters), and the material on them ranged from piano compositions by Neubauten members to something a press release calls “the musical possibilities of ritualized wine consumption.”
Many of these albums were conceived through alternative compositional techniques, and both these techniques and some of the material from these albums ended up on Alles Wieder Offen in one form or another.
The subscriptions of the aforementioned Supporters financed the recording of Alles Wieder Offen, and for their contributions, the Supporters also got to watch the process via webcam and participate in live online discussions with the band about that process. Neubauten will further reward the Supporters’ support with a special edition of the album (accompanying DVD optional).
We wouldn’t expect a band so invested in undermining traditional music industry practices to release a single, but that is nonetheless what they did with the worldwide digital release of “Weil Weil Weil”, out now. The single includes a radio mix (dudes, seriously? You’re not just pulling our legs here??), remixes of the song by each band member, and a karaoke version. Now if only someone could make karaoke versions of Throbbing Gristle tracks.
Fortunately, Neubauten don’t have any tour dates for us to type out now… What’s that? They’re planning a European tour for the spring. Gah! Dave Maher/ Pitchforkmedia.com 10/22
Radiohead get all the props for their seemingly revolutionary new marketing plan. In a nutshell, it’s “let the fans pay what they will, we are artists and artists (especially filthy rich artists) have no desire to observe simple monetary concerns.” While Radiohead’s down-with-capitalism approach is undeniably shrewd, Einsturzende Neubauten has already done them one better.
Though EN’s last album, 2004’s PerpetuumMobile, was a typical release promoted and distributed by a conventional record label, all ten albums (!) since have been available only from EN’s website, http://www.neubauten.org/. Not only are EN’s albums entirely listener supported and funded, the band repay that support with beautiful, exquisitely designed CD packages that are clearly unique, one of a kind collector’s items. Fans can interact with EN via the website as well, and are often privy to recording sessions and even the occasional musical decision. Talk about a revolution!
EN’s AllesWiederOffen (“All Open Again”) is by all accounts a more relaxed and even mellow affair than we have come to expect from the Berlin based quintet whose name literally means “Collapsing New Buildings.” Cryptic, ominous found sounds still surface (“Von Wegen,” “Weil Weil Weil”), as do industrialist wormhole worthy grooves (“Let’s Do It A Dada”). But the band sound most happy these days when vocalizing over a virtual cup of steaming java (“Nagorney Karabach”) or performing heated spoken word monosyllables against foreboding piano loops (“Die Wallen”). Throw in that abrupt sounding German language delivery in Brother Theodore worthy rants and you have the grandest caramelized spew this side of Leonard Cohen’s apocalyptic “The Future.”
“Weil Weil Weil” pumps the musical fists of a rowdy stadium punters ready to explode, complete with what sounds like sabers banging against trashcan lids. Modern electronica gets a nod with the pulsing “Ich Hatte Ein Wort.” Vocalist Blixa Bargeld is particularly conversational here, sounding as if he’s telling a fatherly tale, while in reality he is probably describing political assassination or totalitarian corporate control. The title track is similarly electronic and hypnotic, whimsical sound bubbles and gurgles spinning a glowing web of percussive play against Bargeld’s serene vocal recitation.
But as it’s Friday and we need a moment of calm to fully prepare for the rigors of the weekend ahead, only one track from AllesWiederOffen will really do as an MP3. The nine minute “Unvollstandigkeit” is a barrage of beauty and bombast, ferocious sonic attack and simple rhythmic acuity, an elastic display that has all the power of an avant garde theater performance. The song moves quietly at first, Bargeld enunciating over soothing acoustic drums, repetitive bass and birdlike keyboards. Slowly, the volume rises, the drums pound harder and what sounds like a turbine engine revs thru the mix. Then the volume level decreases, and Bargeld chants a playful mantra. The simple hypnotic drums and bass return….it’s like sleeping on a bed of steel balloons. Suddenly, Bargeld turns up the angst factor, percussionist N.U. Unruh clangs furiously, and the jet engine ramps up even louder than before. “Unvollstandigkeit” is a tornado in sound with the eye of a hurricane. Ken Micallef/ new.music.yahoo.com/blogs/betterlivingthroughmp3 10/26/07