Thursday, 18 December 2014

Review: Einstürzende Neubauten – 'Lament'

Germany's pioneering avant garde institution Einstürzende Neubauten return with the sixteenth album in their near thirty-year career. From their dissonant raucous proto-industrial sounds to their soft but sinister synthpop Einstürzende Neubauten have remained outsiders in the world of music, but have nevertheless inspired countless acts, and remained on the pulse of avant garde art. The band's new album 'Lament' captures the band at their conceptual best. A live recording from a performance in Dixmuide, Belgium on November 9th, 2014 the album is centred around the idea that the first world war never ended and that the conflicts of the 20th century are a continuous path.

The album is strongly narrative, even in its instrumental tracks it speaks with a clear voice. The album ranges from the grinding industrial malevolence of 'Kriegsmachinerie' and 'Lament- 2. Abwartsspirale' to dark synthy orientated pieces such as 'The Willy – Nicky Telegrams' and 'On Patrol In No Man's Land', dark ambient on 'Lament- 1. Lament' and 'Lament- 3. Pater Pecavi', and the dark bluesy strains of 'How Did I Die?' and 'All Of No Man's Land Is Ours' all in the band's own particular style.

The band raid the archives for both audio and lyrical source material to create aseries of Dada-esque collages. Tracks such as 'Hymen' with its mashup of the British and Prussian anthems, 'The Willy – Nicky Telegrams' depicting the Telegram exchanges between the Tsar and the Kaiser, 'Der 1. Weltkrieg (Percussion Version)' a thirteen-minute dance track that lists major statistics of the war, and 'Der Beginn des Weltkrieges 1914 (Dargestellt Unter Zuhilfenahme eines Tierstimmenimitators)' a cover version of a performance text by Joseph Plaut easily emerge as the strongest and most challenging tracks on the album.

The album isn't an exercise in lamentation as the title suggests. There is an emotional undercurrent to many of the songs, but it is more focussed on telling the stories from every angle to build up an overall picture of the war – that it was, and still is a world war. It is an atmospheric history lesson that subverts the egocentric views of each nation involved in order to rebuild a narrative without sentiment or jingoism.

'Lament' is a rich and clever album that sees Einstürzende Neubauten on top forms as both creators and performers. It is a strong addition to their already esoteric back catalogue and one that is particularly relevant given the amount of revisionist history about the Fist World War around. In the process the band further cement themselves as one of the most dynamic and challenging musical acts today.  

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