Thursday, January 24, 2008

Are you staying, or what?

Einstürzende Neubauten - Alles Weider Offen

As Einstürzende Neubauten began work on Alles Weider Offen they were coming off a truly stunning hatrick of great albums (Silence is Sexy, Perpetuum Mobile and Grundstueck) and they had set themselves a very high standard to match. Sadly, they didn't quite make it.

Alles Weider Offen is still a decent enough album. It goes without saying that on a Neubauten release that the production is impeccable, and a few standout tracks are up to their usual standard. The opener 'Die Wellen' and ten minute mid album centrepiece 'Unvollstaendigkeit' are moody epics in the vein that Neubauten have tapped to so much success with in the past. However the rest of the album feels less passionate than their other recent work, and that's a serious disappointment.

Alles Weider Offen continues the trajectory that Neubauten's music has been taking over the last few years. The instrumentation is not as pretty as Silence is Sexy, the swooning strings have largely been replaced with a return to the industrial percussion that characterised their earlier work even if the raw aggression that they had in the Eighties has been replaced by a very German, contemplative sense of beauty. The new album also further develops their forays into a weird kind of pop music, many songs have a twisted sort of R&B feel to them, and there are a few tracks such as 'Let's Do It A Da Da' which are outright bubblegum pop in their approach, although of course not in their execution. These upbeat, energetic songs don't sit well next to their more usual style of moody, epic music, which is perhaps part of the reason why this album has an unsatisfying, inconsistent feeling.

The supporter version of Alles Weider Offen comes with a b-sides album (and a DVD, which I've missed out on for various reasons attributable to my own incompetence) which was released track by track as they were completed during the recording process. These songs are actually surprisingly good, they're shorter, more experimental and less cohesive than the real album tracks but taken one at a time they're almost all great songs.

This album has been a long time coming and it's quite a disappointment that it turned out to be not up to their usual high standards. Still, it's good that their online subscription business model is still working out for them (they've been doing it for five years now, anticipating Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails' rejection of the record label system by quite some time), and I'm still looking forward to finding out what they'll do next.

Here's their official video for 'Nagorny Karabach'. Blixa Bargeld sure is a peculiar fellow:

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