Of all the confusing, oddball pop albums the label Staubgold has released, Die Schwabinggrad Ballett's eponymous debut ranks among the strangest. A collective that is not quite a band, not quite an interest group, not quite a multimedia happening troupe, but a little bit of all that, Die Schwabinggrad Ballett seem to come back to the communal ideals of the late '60s to test them against the crude realities of the 21st century. Members come and go, but the one name that will stick to most casual fans of German underground music is Ekkehard Ehlers. The album consists of 17 short tracks (the whole thing is about 45 minutes long) covering a very wide range of styles and approaches, from collective drones ("Zara") to quirky alternative pop ("Moderne Welt," the arrangements of which are strongly reminiscent of Ehlers' März project), Can-type instrumental grooves, Amon Düül-like freak-outs, and cabaret numbers out of a forgotten Weill/Brecht piece. There are also touches of street fanfare and accordion music evoking La Fanfare Pourpour, although Die Schwabinggrad Ballett add a sense of anarchy that would be incompatible with the latter. The album as a whole is wonderfully chaotic and soaks in German absurd political humor -- two aspects that may register as pluses or minuses in your book. At times, the group sounds terribly amateur and then, the arrangements of the next track showcase extreme care and delicious invention, to a point where you might wonder if it isn't all a hoax. Some understanding of the German language is definitely recommended, along with a specific interest in the Ekkehard Ehlers/Harald "Sack" Ziegler axis of weird German pop.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture