Music Reviews

Artist: Mittageisen (@)
Title: 1981 - 1986
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: mital-U (@)
Distributor: mital-U
Rated: *****
Well, here’s a new one on me, I thought I’d at least heard OF most all the early goth type new wave bands of the 1980’s even if I hadn’t heard them, but the Swiss outfit Mittageisen somehow eluded me. Eldergoths might be familiar with the name "Mittageisen" as a track from the first Siouxsie & the Banshees album. I’m sure this group was far more known in Europe than they ever were in America; but a remastered retrospective of their music 20 years later is an interesting document of a band that seemed to have a lot going for it. There are 19 tracks on this two CD set, 6 of which are previously unreleased.

So what is Mittageisen’s sound? Well, kind of a blend of what was happening at the time – guitars and synths, Bauhaus, The Cure, Brian Eno, Kraftwerk, Wall of Voodoo, Ultravox, that kind of thing. The rhythm comes courtesy of a drum machine. Maybe one thing that held them back from becoming a known entity in the U.S. is that they only sing in their native tongue, not English. Apparently they were said to have very expressive lyrics, but that’s lost on most of the American music-buying public, our phobia of foreign language being what it is.

For the most part, the music is set in a dark pop song format. Some tracks exhibit a more experimental tone than others, veering off into oblique sonic terrain. Considering what kind of music was happening at the time, this is pretty interesting stuff. Not earthshaking, but eclectic nonetheless. Very minimal-expressionistic and underground. The kind of cult band that would have been great live on a double bill with a group like Cabaret Voltaire. Apparently in their time they received a fair amount of radio play in Europe, European radio being far more progressive than what it is in the U.S. They even had a dance hit with a song called "Automaten" which is on this compilation. (You’ll be reminded of SNL’s "Sprockets".)

I don’t know if there’s any U.S. distribution for this 2 CD set but it’s well worth checking out. The 2 CD set comes in a tri-fold digipack with a 24 page booklet, band info and photographs as well as song lyrics (in German, I believe, maybe Swiss, not really sure). Nice quirky cover illustration too. Your best bet is to visit the label website (mital-U) and order a copy. When music from a "lost" cult band like this comes along you owe it to yourself to scoop it up as quick as you can because you never know how long it will be around for. Even though you can find the video for "Automaten" on YouTube, you’re not going to find this CD on Amazon or iTunes. There were only 500 copies of this limited edition made, so you might not want to dawdle. Recommended.

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