This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the release of Einstürzende Neubauten‘s first official LP Kollaps. To celebrate, we are joined by none other than Blixa Bargeld. Blixa talks about the making of Kollaps, as well as some of his major influences.
Einstürzende Neubauten (“Collapsing New Buildings”) is a German experimental music group, originally formed in West Berlin in 1980. The group is currently composed of founder members Blixa Bargeld (lead vocals; guitar; keyboard) and NU Unruh (custom made instruments; percussion; vocals), long-time contributor Alexander Hacke (bass; vocals), plus Jochen Arbeit (guitar; vocals), and Rudolph Moser (custom-built instruments; percussion; vocals), who both joined the line-up in 1997.
One of their trademarks is the use of custom-built instruments, predominantly made out of scrap metal and building tools, and noises, in addition to standard musical instruments. Their early albums were unremittingly harsh, with Bargeld’s vocals shouted and screamed above a din of banging and scraping metal percussion. Subsequent recordings found the group’s sound growing somewhat more conventional, yet still containing many unorthodox elements.
With the release of its debut album “Kollaps” in November 1981, EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN declared war on all conventional listening habits. The album is actually an “inaudible” record; it is a frontal attack on expectations and ways of listening that have been blunted by mainstream sound. For lack of money, among other reasons, the range of instruments consisted of “found” and self-made objects, created from sheet metal and including drills, hammers, a “non-voice” that snatched shreds of German words from a text, and professional studio equipment, which was consistently used to undermine its actual technical purposes. This nonconformist mixture itself would become the foundation of a completely new understanding of music that would later influence countless artists, and would highly stylize the band’s subsequent albums into milestones of the industrial scene.
Join us as we look back, listen and discuss Kollaps.