• Einsturzende Neubauten: Live At Rockpalast 1990

    Released by: Mig Music/WDR
    Released on: January 15, 2013.
    Director: Christian Wagner
    Cast: Einsturzende Neubauten
    Year: 1990
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    The Movie:

    Formed in Berlin in 1980, Germany’s Einsturzende Neubauten (which translates into English as Collapsing New Buildings) is still going strong at the time of this writing, more than three decades after their humble beginnings. A very important act in the early industrial music scene, the band rose to some fame for their use of custom made instruments using found items like scrap metal and construction debris. Want an example? Sure, this 1990 performance recorded for German TV features a shopping card on stage that works its way into the show as does a spring spread across two poles that’s then hit with a power drill.

    If that sounds a bit odd, well, it is, but Einsturzende Neubauten has never been interested in mass appeal. The band’s earlier years were more chaotic than the time period captured here, but even if Blixa was wearing a suit and not leather pants with giant teased up hair, there’s very little here that could be considered commercial. Even when the band covers Lee Hazelwood’s Sand they make it their own (no easy feat when you consider how distinctive the original recording of that song really is). Alternating between some smooth, deep and almost crooning vocals to intense screaming the likes of which you’d expect to shatter wine glasses across the fatherland, the band are, more or less, in their prime at this point.

    There’s still a sense of ‘noise for the sake of noise’ to some of the performance but the rhythms are strong and the song writing far more apparent than on Sogo Ishii’s 1986 document of the band, Halber Mensch (which was a mix of live footage shot during a Japanese tour and footage of the band performing in some sort of industrial compound). The band have more or less found their style at this point, and while they continue to experiment, their discography was strong enough in 1990 that they had enough solid material to really deliver a strong show – all killer, no filler, for lack of a better cliché.

    So obviously Blixa is on vocals and lead guitar here but the rest of the band? Alexander Hacke is in guitar, N.U. Unruh on percussion as well as FM Einheit with Mark Chung on bass. So if this isn’t the very first, original line up it’s definitely one of the strongest of the band’s long history. There’s an impressive sense of flow between each of the musicians appearing on the unusually large and at times almost empty seeming stage. Tighter confines might have lead to a more interesting concert to watch but at the same time this offers up enough space for each of the musicians to ‘do their own thing.’

    There’s next to no crowd interaction here, no ‘Does anyone remember laughter?’ or ‘As long as I’ve got a face you ladies have got a place to sit’ banter – it’d be out of place and stupid alongside an act like this. But at the same time there’s more to this than just five guys getting up and playing. There’s a strange energy present throughout the performance that seems to build in an inexplicable way towards the finish. It’s pretty fascinating to watch and as enthralling as it is bizarre.

    The full set list for the seventy-one minute performance contained on this DVD is as follows:

    Prolog / Feurio / Der Tod Ist ein Dandy / Sehnsucht / Armenia / yu Gung / Zerstorte Zelle / Trinklied / Ich Bin’s / Ein Stuhl In Der Holle / Der Kuss / Haus Der Luge / Kein Bestandeil Sein / Zeichnunungen Des Patienten O.T. / Sand / Letztes Biest Am Himmel


    The video is presented in 1.33.1 fullframe, just how it was probably broadcast on TV twenty-two years ago. As you’d gather from something that was originally shot on video, it’s soft in spots but as this was professionally shot the compositions are solid throughout and the picture stays stable and watchable throughout. Colors are a little soft and there’s some trailing here and there but overall, yeah, this is fine.

    The PCM Stereo track is in German with no alternate language options or subtitles provided. There isn’t a whole lot of dialogue here, however, and as all the music with the exception of parts of Sand were recorded in German, that shouldn’t be a problem for most fans. Regardless, as far as the audio quality goes, it’s pretty solid. A surround mix might have been fun given the variety of percussive instruments used here but outside of that, you can’t complain. Levels are balanced properly, Blixa’s vocals are clear and intense and there are no problems with hiss or distortion. In short, the performance sounds very good on DVD.

    There isn’t a whole lot in terms of extras on the DVD itself, just some promo spots for a few other Rockpalast DVD releases, however, this release does come with a CD of the band’s performance as well as a booklet of liner notes from Ecki Stieg that give a quick history of the band with some thoughts on their importance.

    The Final Word:

    A pretty fantastic document of what is widely considered to be the best line up of one of the most interesting bands to come out of… anywhere, really, this DVD/CD release is one that Einturzende Neubauten fans should consider a must own. If the lack of extras on the disc is a strike against it the quality is otherwise very sound and the inclusion of the CD makes this a very solid release overall. If you’re not a fan this won’t change your mind, if you are, you already know you need it.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Roderick's Avatar
      Roderick -
      Thanks for reviewing this, Ian. Although I would have bought it even if it looked and sounded fairly crap. And it's nice to see they included the performance on CD. The Public Image Ltd release made you buy them separately if you wanted both.