Friday, October 30, 2009
Einstürzende Neubauten - Silence Is Sexy (2000)
It's clear that these German industrial pioneers have matured a lot since their humble beginnings nearly thirty years ago. In the early days, they collected various scraps of metal and concrete and banged them together for their (and our) amusement. They haven't lost any of their scrap metal, but now they use it to make actual songs, and catchy ones at that.
Not to imply that this is in any way poppy; it's still arty and difficult and sometimes downright disturbing, but now there is a sense of genuine craftsmanship in every track. Frontman Blixa Bargeld has obviously been honing his lyrical skills as well, since the words on the album display far more subtlety and depth than on earlier releases such as Halber Mensch, or even the groundbreaking Haus Der Lüge. Some of the songs are in German, and some are in English, but all are enjoyable.
The mood of Silence is Sexy is notably restrained and a bit morose. Blixa's voice resembles a whisper far more often than a scream. The result of this is a lingering tension that gradually builds and is sustained for most of the album. You keep expecting things to explode, but they almost never do. The notable and awesome exception to this is the standout track "Redukt." It begins with a simple 4/4 rhythm coming from what sounds like an anvil. This is accompanied by long and wordy verses in German, all subdued and held back by the unceasing metal banging. The track is ten minutes long and this pattern continues for a really long time, but just when you think are no more surprises, the roaring, single-word chorus comes blasting out like the wrath of God. If you're not prepared for it, the sudden change in volume can be hard on the ears, but the effect is marvelous.
The other song I want to mention is the sole track on the second disc. "Pelikanol" is a twenty minute industrial nightmare that relies on repetition, a lopsided washing machinee rhythm, creepy words and long drones provided by Bargeld's voice. It almost sounds like Krautrock with its steady (albeit warped) groove and trance inducing drones, and it's probably my favorite track on the disc. It just goes to show you not to write off a great band, simply because they've been around for a few decades.