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Monday, July 10, 2006

Experiencing musical difficulties...


Difficulty #2

The simple fact that the lyrics of a song are in a foreign language can make some music extremely challenging for the majority of listeners. If you can't even pronounce the name of the band (I go with INE-stur-zen-duh NEW-bow-ton) how can you be expected to enjoy their music? Einstürzende Neubauten are considered forefathers of industrial music, with a name that translates into English as "Collapsing New Buildings." I'm not exactly sure how, but somehow the meaning seems entirely appropriate. You wanna talk avant garde? How about a band that records in an abandoned warehouse, clanging bars against metal plates for percussion combined with droning guitars?

Some of Einstürzende Neubauten's work isn't really that far removed from the sound of or style of Nine Inch Nails. Think of Trent Reznor banging out an alternate version of the Downward Spiral with a rusty bar and a bit of a penchant for tribarhythmsms. The main difference being that the computerized synthesized tones of Nine Inch Nails beats and music tend to have a more cold, exacting feel than the more earthy aspects of Einstürzende Neubauten.

Does it make it less challenging or more enjoyable to translate the lyrics and actually understand the intended meaning of a song or to intuitively half-mumble English words that sound similar and come up with your own story from the emotion and feel of the vocals? I've been surprised a number of times by discovering the actual lyrics of an Einstürzende Neubauten song and learning what a tune that I'd listened to dozens of times was actually about. But of course that's not to say that their lyrics are solely in German- they've also recorded in English, Spanish, and French.

No matter how many times the tea-kettle whistle vocal screech of Blixa Bargeld unexpectedly appears out of nowhere in a song, it still tends to startle me as much as it did the very first time. Touches like this and the atmospheric layering, no matter how complicated or simple, are what make much of the music of Einstürzende Neubauten more of an experience than simple music listening. A good starting point for the curious but unexperienced would be one of their three Strategies Against Architecture compilations or their classic album Haus der Luege.

Einstürzende Neubauten- Selbstportrait mit Kater

Einstürzende Neubauten- Haus der Luge

Einstürzende Neubauten- Salamandrina

Official website

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