Various Artists

Magnetband: Experimenteller Elektronik-Underground DDR 1984-1989

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Magnetband: Experimenteller Elektronik-Underground DDR 1984-1989 collects several tracks from obscure cassettes produced in Germany during the years leading up to the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The selections skew toward experimental post-punk created with drum machines, tape loops, and other electronics, and often contain jarring edits, fractured rhythms, and eerie, distorted vocals. While the state of political and social unrest inevitably informs these recordings, they aren't entirely full of rage or confusion. Many of them are actually quite playful and surrealist, mutating elements of disco, reggae, and even blues. Several of these tracks were recorded by musicians who later achieved fame for their subsequent ventures. Frank Bretschneider, co-founder of glitch/techno label Raster-Noton, appears no less than four times on this compilation, and one piece was co-written by Ronald and Robert Lippok, both later of To Rococo Rot. Perhaps most surprisingly, the amusing, somewhat loungey "Er Hat's Geschafft" by Magdalene Keibel Combo turns out to be the work of Christian Lorenz and Paul Landers, who would both join industrial metal stars Rammstein in 1994. The album's most alarming, aggressive track is "Die Kuh," a noisy synth-punk tune by Der Demokratische Konsum. The most avant-garde piece here is Robert Linke's "Musik zum Weltuntergang," a buzzing nine-minute drone that's much closer to Asmus Tietchens than Pyrolator. Magnetband is a fascinating, eye-opening release documenting expressions of creative freedom during an oppressive era. Highly recommended for fans of early Felix Kubin, Der Plan, Diseño Corbusier, and other bizarre minimal wave visionaries from the 1980s.

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