Church of Industrial Music: Einstürzende Neubauten - Halber Mensch

in music •  6 months ago 

Though I don't think it's necessarily the case for the most recent generation of industrial fans, for many, I think Einstürzende Neubauten practically defines industrial. Although it's not really what the originators were thinking of, the scrap-metal and machinery sounds do fit the term in their own way, I think just as well as the original concept of "disposable music made by disposable means for a consumeristic society", which is a vision that I would say industrial music has strayed from, for better or worse. There I go, rambling again... anyway, my introduction to Neubauten was the "Feurio!" remix that appeared on the second edition of Cleopatra's Industrial Revolution compilation, which was from a later period, when they had incorporated more electronic elements (which is still cool). However, it wasn't long before I was introduced to the "classic" stuff, as Neubauten seems to be one of those bands no rivethead can avoid for long. I don't think this was the first of their earlier works that I was exposed to, but it was the first one I owned.

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I suppose me saying I that like Einstürzende Neubauten is about as surprising as a stoner-rocker liking Led Zeppelin, so there's probably not too much that needs to be said here. However, I would say that I definitely think that, like many of those now-cliché early rock bands, these guys earned their place as a cliché. For the uninitiated, Einstürzende Neubauten became known for their use of unusual instruments such as shopping carts, sheet metal, and other such bits that one might find in a junkyard. Although there's plenty of banging and klanging, as you would expect, they also coax some more surprising sounds out of this stuff. The end result is definitely harsh, but also often more musical than you might expect.

Listen to Halber Mensch on Dezzer: https://www.deezer.com/us/album/75100072?autoplay=true
Get the CD from the official website: https://neubauten.org/en/halber-mensch

The album opens with the title track, which is perhaps one of the least experimental tracks in a way, in that it consists mostly of chanting. However, the sound and form of the chanting keeps it well in the "strange" category. Up next is "Yu-Gung (Futter mein Ego)", which brings in the metallic, rhythmic goodness you're probably waiting for, and plenty of it. Skipping one track, we come to "Z.N.S.", which is another fine example of the kind of awesome sounds these guys got out of their unconventional instruments. I'm pretty sure the lyrics are about hallucinogens, which are, by the way, a fine accompaniment to EN if you're into that kind of thing. Up next is "Seele Brent", which starts out with sparse bits of percussion and atmospheric sounds, then builds into a sort of intense dirge, with moaning vocals and the signature metallic percussion. Another definite favorite is "Der Tod ist ein Dandy", which has a more ominous, creeping sound to the instrumentation than most tracks here. Also worth noting are the cover of "Sand", a Lee Hazelwood song, and the Adrian Sherwood remix of "Yu-Gung", which thickens up the sound a bit, and has a few other interesting twists.

While I think most newer bands are probably more indirectly influenced by Neubauten (that is, their influences were influenced by them), these guys are definitely one of the most important bands in the history of the genre. Also, though I think this applies much less to their later work, early stuff like Halber Mensch is some of the best industrial music for freaking out people who think Marilyn Manson is an example of "weird music".

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