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Einstürzende Neubauten - Alles Wieder Offen

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Artist: Einstürzende Neubauten

Album: Alles Wieder Offen

Label: Potomak

Review date: Oct. 22, 2007


Einstürzende Neubauten - "Weil Weil Weil" (Alles Wieder Offen)


It would be difficult to name another band of Neubauten's stature that has so steadfastly persevered with its own unique vision over the course of 27 years. And not just in terms of sound and style, but also with regard to the less-visible, yet unavoidable, business side of being a band. Since 2004's Perpetuum Mobile, those not intimately connected with the band might have believed them to be in hibernation. In fact, they've released quite a few albums since then, but only through their web site for their dedicated fans.

Expanding on the connection with their fans, the band turned to a subscriber model for their latest album, Alles Wieder Offen. Rather than working with a traditional record label, Neubauten recorded in their own studio, funded by the faithfuls’ dollars. In exchange, not only did the subscribers receive a special edition of the album, but they were able to participate in its creation. The recording process was available to subscribers via webcam, and they could then discuss the recordings with the band and encourage the developments they found most interesting.

Thus what we hear on Alles Wieder Offen is a blend of the band's own personal vision and that of their fans. The results are intriguing, indicating that more than a few have recognized Neubauten's always-present, yet oft-hidden, ability to channel melody out of the most minimal of ingredients. Only on the humorously-titled "Let's Do It A Dada" does the band truly let loose with heavier percussion; the rest of the songs are stripped down to the most basic elements necessary. The band demonstrates an uncanny ability to decide how much is enough, and stops right there.

"Die Wellen" opens the album with near-silence, slowly building on piano and spoken words, growing louder and louder as bass and drums join in, everything hitting at once like an old Swans pummel job. "Nagorny Karabach" proceeds with an unexpected gentleness, the bass and quiet percussion supporting wonderful vocals from Blixa Bargeld. "Weil Weil Weil" also features a (almost) catchy vocal melody over pulsing bass and clattering percussion, more of a throwback to earlier albums than most of the songs here. The title song makes good use of a fantastic bassline from Alexander Hacke, pulling the song forward as Blixa whispers and chants over steady percussion.

The barely-there "Von Wegen" lays chanting over delicate plucked strings and slow bass thrum, and "Unvollständigkeit," the longest track here, revels in ominous atmospheres that build slowly into a harrowing blizzard of sound, intense rattling and vocalizations harkening back to the band's industrial origins. The harp-like strings of "Ich Warte" are partnered with near-whispered vocals that grow more incantatory as a glowing drone builds, accented with sudden percussive hits. Two-thirds of the way through, everything expands in a whoosh as the percussion begins a steady lope and Blixa's voice grows more powerful. It's an exhilarating conclusion.

Throughout, Hacke, guitarist Jochen Arbeit and percussionists Rudolf Moser and N.U. Unruh provide each song with personality, and no more. Blixa's voice, whether whispering, singing, or commanding, works in and around the music. These are subtle songs, and the first listen may leave only a vague impression because of it. Successive listens let the music sink in, and details emerge like filigree. One would never have thought, 27 years ago, that Einstürzende Neubauten would become masters of subtlety, but so they are, and we reap the rewards.

By Mason Jones

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