Blixa Bargeld releases liner notes to NEW Einsturzende Neubauten CD – “Jewels”

The bold history written by Einstürzende Neubauten over the last 28 years now has a dramatic new chapter with the release of their new album The Jewels which is being released  on their own Potomak label, distributed in the U.S. by Ryko Distribution. Working outside normal record business market mechanisms, Einstürzende Neubauten recorded the CD in their own studio funded by their world-wide network of subscribing Supporters via www.neubauten.org. Also created during this same period were the Alles wieder offen.

The The Jewels comprises compositions often created in one day whose lyrics are based on dreams. The group were guided by a system of cards (called: “DAVE”) with specific instructions written on each one, sometimes a clear message (“five keys”, “short”, “cymbal”), and at other times more cryptic (“cut off underneath”, “totalitarian”, “fruit”). Each member of EN drew several cards, interpreted their instructions and translated them into music. This procedure was specially developed to undermine rigid work mechanisms. The process was not only employed in the studio but also on stage. Improvising of this kind — with all its inherent unpredictability and lack of defined boundaries — naturally contains the possibility of failure but as the EN already proclaimed on their album Fünf auf der nach oben offenen Richterskala of 1987: “Keine Schönheit ohne Gefahr” (“No Beauty without Danger”). The cards also played an important part in the recording of Alles wieder offen.

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Once it had been decided that each month we would unleash one of these pieces on our dear supporters, we simply had to come up with a mode of working which allowed us to conceive and finish each of these utterances within two days, because at the same time we were also working on another record, hence the idea of miniatures. To record and compose a song in such a short time, given the experimental state of our research, it was necessary to limit output to 2-3 minutes for each track. We’ve broken that rule too, of course-as we usually do-but we did stick to it for a little while…

After drawing our cards, we would briefly act like headless chickens, then travel to the vault and return with shopping-cart loads of weird stuff. We would spend the better part of the day turning all these things, objects and materials into ideas. Work. And, miraculously, the things would usually cooperate and allow us to arrive at some place somewhere which, by modern definition, could be called music. As we edged forward into the realm of the unknown, rehearsed and then soundchecked, I would try out a couple of my dream protocols, eventually settling on one, perhaps even several at a time, as in “Ansonsten Dostojevski” or “I kissed Glenn Gould”. Eureka! That’s it!

It worked in every case-well, almost: on one occasion we gave up and just went home instead. At first the whole process felt like a huge digression, but after a while it started to be fun. We soon noticed that the results justified this detour away from our regular album work, allowing us to “harvest” some of our most ego-free compositions yet. The random draws of cards and their subsequent extraordinary instrumental interpretations (in addition to my equally unparalleled freedom in using no-sense-for-anyone-dream-language) gave us a welcome release from routine EN duties and resulted in one of our most appreciated (by us at least) albums. -Blixa Bargeld

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University.

I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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