Tanz in den Himmel - German Post-Punk and New Wave Vol. 4

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01. Die Haut - Der karibische Western (1982)
Twangy and moody urban post-punk blues with vocals provided by Lydia Lunch. Die Haut were one of the longest running German post-punk bands, remaining active well into the nineties and recording instrumentals as well as songs with guest vocalist like Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Kid Congo Powers, Anita Lane, Lydia Lunch, Blixa Bargeld and Nick Cave. Drummer Thomas Wydler is also a member of the Bad Seeds since the mid eighties.

02. Klopferbande - Appell (1981)
Basically the one-man project of one Peter Ortmann, who - with the help of various on-off collaborators - released a string of cassettes and one vinyl full-length, ... und doch so bezaubernd. Funnily enough,
with his mullet, moustache and leather jacket the guy looked like your typical eighties metalhead. The music is not metal at all though, rather a sort of dark wave with weird synth noises and the occasional touch of punkiness. I've only heard the vinyl album, most of which is actually a bit corny. This track is the gem under a ton of cheese though.

03. Belfegore - Heilige Kriege (1983)
Tribal, metallic post-punk in the vain of early Killing Joke. Originality wasn't this three-piece's forte and some of their material is almost embarrassingly generic. This song gets by on sheer, driving energy alone though - and on being so, well, fiercely Teutonic. Nerd fact: the b-side of Belefegore's 12" All That I Want features what must be the only collaboration between legendary producer Conny Plank and dance music genius Francois Kervorkian.

04. Profil - Berühren (1981)
The song-oriented strain of German new wave in a nutshell: synth-led, minimalist and chugging, with catchy, but detached vocals and lyrics that ironically reference pop clichés. There's hardly any info on this amazing band out there, but Mutant Sounds has what is more or less their complete discography.

05. 1. Futurologischer Kongress - Rote Autos (1982)
One of my favourites on here: bouncy, percussive and super-catchy art pop, propelled by an elastic bassline. Why this witty, Talking Heads- and Human League-influenced collective from Berlin isn't more widely revered is totally beyond me.

06. Emak - Tanz in den Himmel (1982)
Not really connected to the post-punk underground, this Kraftwerk worshipping duo from Cologne (Emak stands for Elektronische Musik aus Köln) got lumped in with the synth-wave bands of the day by virtue of their minimalist sound. But their music is actually a lot more wistful, romantic and, yes, conventionally beautiful than anything that could have come out of the new wave scene. The guys from Mutant Sounds (who else?) posted the first Emak LP.

07. Gorilla Aktiv - Kopf und Bauch
Granted, Gorilla Aktiv's tracks sound amazingly full-bodied for a DIY project. But most of them are still just bleepy, charmingly bonkers period pieces. Don't believe the geeky collector types who try to tell you otherwise - they will declare any old crap a work of genius if it's sufficiently rare and obscure! That said, Kopf und Bauch's choppy, robotic groove and proto-electro synth riffs still sound quite amazing. I wonder whether they were aware of what was going on in New York at the same time? After all, Planet Rock was released a year before Kopf und Bauch was made. By the way, ex-Gorilla Aktiv member Tommi Eckart is now one half of 2raumwhohnung (the other half being former Neonbabies singer Inga Humpe), whose vapid designer-electro pop is hugely successful in Germany. I guess the man has bills to pay...

08. Starter - Part Of You (1981)
A great, short-lived synth punk trio involving Grauzone's sax player Claudine Chirac. Guess where you can find their sole album?

09. Deutscher Kaiser - Danse (1982)
Yet another strange career trajectory for a former new wave avantgardist: obviously Deutscher Kaiser member Bernd Kolb is now a bigshot in the German IT-business. Influenced by Fad Gadget and early Depeche Mode, the trio released two singles on their own label Mode (sic!), Halli-Galli Tanzmusik (which you can find here) and Tempo! Tempo!

10. Richy Müller & Yello - Jetzt und alles (1981)
This short and brooding piece from the soundtrack of the German film Jetzt und alles, directed by Yello vocalist Dieter Meier, is a bit of a curiousity. Leading actor Richy Müller, who provides the sung-spoken vocals here, went on to become a rather prolific actor and is probably best known outside Germany for his part in Die innere Sicherheit (The State I Am In). Interestingly, half the tracks on the soundtrack album are by Anthony Moore, formerly of Slapp Happy and Henry Cow.

11. Schön - Pure Design (1981)
The b-side of another ZickZack Records release, the EP Tanz doch! I couldn't find any information on the group and it seems that they didn't release anything else. I've yet to find a rip of the complete EP, but this shimmering, sparkling and light-footed track is one of the finest examples of German post-punk's mutant disco strain.

12. 4d - Fauve Moderne (flexi version) (1982)
Sophisticated, cosmopolitan and decidedly adult sounding, with French lyrics, sonorous vocals and a restrained, elegant groove, Fauve Moderne sounds a bit like a chance meeting between late-era Roxy Music and prime-era Serge Gainsbourg. More info on the band and their Sex Appeal/Fauve Moderne 10" (plus two bonus tracks) courtesy of user oldskool over here.


Populäre Mechanik - Scharfer Schnitt/Muster

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Absolutely no info out there on this privately pressed 7" from 1981 that I nicked from Soulseek. What you get are two excellent tracks of proto-electronica, one in a sort of clunky, minimalist post-new wave stylee with distorted vocals delivering nonsensical lyrics (Scharfer Schnitt) and one in a sort of clunky, minimalist electro-dub stylee (Muster). Also, dig that very cool cover artwork.