RLW

eaRLy W 4: Ajatollah Carter

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Here, in all their glory, are 20 wondrously gnarly lo-fi archival documents by legendary German (post?) punk outfit PD -- the letters originally stood for "Progressive Disco," though "Permutative Distortion," the title of an early cassette release, is perhaps more appropriate -- from the group's first ever performance, the mind-numbing 12-minute trawl "Alltag" recorded live in Mainz in January 1980, to the horrific "Alpentraum" from December of the same year. "Why do we have to think of right-wing terror when German 'folk' tunes violate our senses?" asks Ralf Wehowsky, aka RLW, the only remaining founding member of PD, who went on to transform the outfit into the hugely influential P16.D4. Good question -- but for most punters the sludgy rehearsal tape of "Bundeswehr" or "Kondensat" (which marks the debut of Wehowsky's own solo career in electronic music, condensing "Alltag" into a vicious 50-second blast) would probably be sufficient sensory violation. Compared to the brutish reductionism of "Kurzschluss II" and "Im Rausch der Geschwindigkeit," supposedly risqué German acts like D.A.F. and even early Einsturzende Neubaten sound positively civilized. Yet from this raw manure of cheap synths, stodgy drumming, inept guitar playing, and lumpen if wildly enthusiastic covers (watch out for Sonny Rollins in "Trio Wthout Strings," closely followed by Marvin Gaye in "Quartet With Orchestra") came two of German new music's most influential figures, in the form of Achim Szepanski -- of Mille Plateaux fame -- and Wehowsky himself. Both as a document of the murky, sweaty early-'80s underworld they sprang from and as the first entry in their subsequently illustrious discographies, this album is simply indispensable.

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