Der Plan

Unkapitulierbar

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Der Plan are one of the most groundbreaking bands associated with the German new wave (Neue Deutsche Welle) scene, and really, they deserve credit for helping to invent synth pop. Founded in the late '70s and initially featuring input by members of D.A.F., the group went from atonal industrial noise rock to more melodic avant pop songs (particularly when Kurt Dahlke left D.A.F. and joined Der Plan full-time), melding the cryptic strangeness of the Residents with more accessible German pop styles. The band worked steadily throughout the '80s and disbanded in 1992, but has since re-formed occasionally. While co-founder Moritz Reichelt created an all-new Der Plan lineup for the group's 2004 release, Unkapitulierbar is a reunion of the group's longest-standing lineup, rounded out by fellow co-founder Frank Fenstermacher and longtime member Dahlke (aka Pyrolator). Unkapitulierbar essentially delivers the wackiness and experimentation that have always been central to Der Plan's sound, but they've noticeably grown as musicians, and the album sounds much cleaner and more professional than their earlier work. As usual for the group, these are brief, compact songs, rarely lasting longer than three minutes, and they vary between different forms of pop. There are bouncy beats and fizzy bass ("Lass die Katze Stehn!"), along with spacy lounge numbers ("Der Herbst"). "Man Leidet Herrlich" dives headfirst into reggae, with deep digital sound system bass and icy dub effects. "Grundrecht" has some slamming hip-hop beats and a few bursts of crunchy distortion, perhaps flashing back to the group's earliest experiments. "Körperlos im Cyberspace" has a Kraftwerk-esque technology theme, but with a more sophisticated arrangement, and "Die Hände des Astronauten" goes for a sort of astral Beach Boys vibe. The only song with English lyrics is "Come Fly with Me," which isn't the Sinatra standard, but a dreamland fantasy featuring an uncredited chanteuse. Overall, a fine comeback that contains the same creative spirit as their past work, but doesn't come close to being a retread.

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