Neubauten and myself have been missing each other by days for years. They don't play in the States that often and every time they played in a European city I was visiting it would be either the week before or the week after my visit. This time finally the stars aligned! I happened to be in Italy on tour with Zorn the same week Neubauten were coming through and their only italian concert(s) were at the Estragon in Bologna so I got tickets for the first night and went. Oh boy what a show!
Being this Neubauten's 30 year anniversary tour they really went all out and played for a staggering 3 hours! The current line up includes 2 percussionist (N.U. Unruh being one of them), a keyboard/sampler player, a guitarist (Jochen Arbeit) and of course Hacke on bass and Blixa on vocals. The six of them played songs from their entire discography to a packed audience of about 2000 souls. Needless to say the classics made the crowd go wild and the visual impact of what was happening on stage was overwhelming. You just simply can't find another band today that has the type of sound they do and that does it all live. Their research for weird sounds and objects is amazingly creative and unique: who else would think of using a vinyl record mounted on the screw gun and amplified with a paper cup? or the tight and extended spring that when hit sounds like an electronic kick drum? or a bucket full of nails and scrap metal that is slowly emptied from a height of more than 6 feet creating a rain of metallic objects? To think that they've been doing this since 1980 is just mind-boggling!
Unfortunately I couldn't go to the second show the following night but I've heard from people who went that it consisted in a shorter Neubauten set followed by a few sets of side projects by some EN members. Dulcis in fundus, the band then distributed about 200 drum sticks to the crowd and rolled out moving drum stations so that all attendees could participate in a noise-making hitting fest. Pretty amazing idea and great ending. Too bad I missed that.
Einsturzende Neubauten is still touring so I highly recommend that you go see them if you can. They should be in the States right about now in fact!
You can see more pictures of the show taken by local photographer Elena Sartorari here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/elenasartorari/sets/72157625262314299/with/5174509935/
Third edition for the Obscure Fest, annual dark-gothic appointment in Naples. This year the venue has changed, and the new club Rising South I must admit it’s quite good: a wide concert room, nice stage, an acoustic that lets you understand what the bands are doing. The only problem is that you could think you in a tropical jungle because after an hour, when the club is full, you start sweating and feel like fainting due to the humid heat. The Festival includes not only concerts but also bodypainting, performances, videos, pictures and paintings, while the three djs DEMON, NOX and ANDY fill the air with good music between the bands’ exhibitions and after the show, till dawn. The concert bill included also LE VENE DI LUCRETIA but with silly excuses they decided not to come at the very last moment, really a bad promotion for a new band just growing.
Dances are opened by REALGAR, a Neapolitan duo: Claudia Florio (ex-singer of LUPERCALIA) and Roberto Marino (played guitar for some time with ARGINE) give life to a mix of neoclassic and electronic atmospheres, an intense sound that enchants all the listeners. On the electronic beats Roberto Marino plays keyboard and flute, while Claudia sings with a deep and powerful voice. References to QNTAL and DEAD CAN DANCE are obliged, but the band knows hot to make their music original, and I must admit that Claudia sings even better than in her previous appearances: more spontaneous, the singing fuse in a better way with music and she seems to be more involved, really giving her best. REALGAR play the songs from their demo, quite interesting (in particular I like "Finis"), and a new unreleased song that follows the direction of the previous tracks but emphasizing the electronic aspect, and I found it really wonderful. I’ll wait for their debut CD, I hope they’ll release soon because it’s a great quality ensemble.
After a little time to resolve technical issues, on stage come the Neapolitan TOTENWAGEN. This is a strange band for this happening, because they don’t seem to be "obscure" and make a strong contrast after the ethereal duo that has just played. The band, with an album released in these months, is made by members of THE SPERMS, and it’s a crazy ensemble that plays an harsh rock’n’roll with strong MOTORHEAD references, but you can find also various influences from RAMONES to LYDIA LUNCH. Distorted bass, drums and keyboards (no guitar) support a rough voice singing in German, Neapolitan and English. Aggressive, provocative, intense, they make the public shake and dance. "Che donna 666" (joking with the Italian language) is the most vulgar of their songs and is a confirmation that their Deutsch-Neapolitanische Rock 'n' Roll has the power to break into pieces the walls of this club.
NASTRO is a new band from Rome which got some attention for having supported the American group BLACK ICE. At first they shock a bit with their strange aesthetics, something reminds me of the 80 white rap bands like BEASTIE BOYS, but when they start playing they shock even more because of their very particular musical proposal. Really crazy, they play something like No-Wave or Art Rock, but trying to definite their style it’s absolutely hard. Very good music, a fanatical vocal approach and really well playing musicians, that is what emerges of this uncommon band. In the last song they reach their top, with the singer using a floor tom as timpano, while the guitarist gives his guitar to the public to play, even though the effects used are so heavy that anything you do on the instrument results in a square and rich noise. The only thing that makes me sad is that NASTRO hasn’t released any demo until now I could buy!
SCARLET AND THE SPOOKY SPIDERS come from Livorno, Italy. They’re a deathrock-horrorpunk band and as the other bands in this genre their aesthetics is particular and cured in details. The singer is like TIAMAT’s Johan Edlund in his LUCYFIRE experience: dressed up to nine with a cowboy hat. Their music is the right style to put the public on fire: rough and "in your face", they have energy and a powerful approach, with simple riffs and dirty melodies. Songs are really involving even though I don’t remember a single song after having listened, and they maybe seem too similar the one to the other. Anyway, the public appreciates a lot because they surely deserve to be listened, and I obviously bought their MCD "Pop Up Your Eyes and... Thrill!".
RICCARDO PRENCIPE’S CORDE OBLIQUE is another Neapolitan band dedited to neoclassic music with strong ethnic influences. They are on stage with a new singer and a different drummer and the result is very good. I thought that the decision of placing them after a deathrock band would have resulted as a flop, but I was completely wrong: even though they play acoustically, the powerful drumming and the rhythmical and energetic music makes them appreciated and the public is numerous and enjoys a lot. The presence on stage of Luigi Rubino (piano) and Edo Notarloberti (violin), both members of ASHRAM (Edo also in ARGINE and many other bands) adds a wonderful ensemble to the guitar of Riccardo Prencipe (ex-LUPERCALIA), who plays like a Spanish Flamenco, vigorous and always passionate.
The Slovak THE LAST DAYS OF JESUS are the last band of the bill. They come with a crazy attitude, in particular the singer acts as a madman in accordance to the music, that is a deathrock-psychobilly with influences from SIEKIERA to RAMONES to ALIEN SEX FIEND (for many reasons I’d ideally compare them to this last, for the disturbing and out of lines attitude). Their exhibition is really what we need to end this wonderful night, and they drain all the energy left in our veins. They make also a bis, the cover of RAMONES "Pet Semetery", more aggressive than the original. A great exhibition that is the cheese on the cake for a wonderful night, placing Naples as one of the most important cities in Italy (together with Milan and Rome) for the obscure/dark scene. I’m already looking forward the next edition, and if you live in Southern Italy or you’re going to be here next year, don’t forget to come and you’ll be satisfied.
Sincerely, one of the worst concert I’ve seen in this year. Considered one of the most important French New Wave bands, CLAIR OBSCUR during these years have passed through different styles and experimentations, covering all the influences among rock and classical music, experimental and industrial. So, when this concert was announced, many in southern Italy were expecting it as THE EVENT OF THE YEAR. But often what starts badly ends even worse. The concert was announced as starting at 22 (that, in Southern Italy means it will start at 23:30), but keeping the club closed until midnight, and then starting the concert at 1:30 is really a lack of respect for all the fans who arrived in hurry and maybe do anything in their life different from going to dance and see a concert. But this are silly things compared to how was the concert. The band - now the lineup is only Christophe Demarthe (vocals) and Nicolas Demarthe (guitars) – starts to play really bored, seems to do a favour to the public. The first songs are interesting, even though disturbed by this "fuck-you" attitude of the band, but soon the other songs show a total lack of energy, interesting ideas, compositive skills: all the things you just know CLAIR OBSCUR usually have! Songs are boring, similar one to the other, banal. The singer after quite every song decide to speak just to offend and insult the public, telling in different ways we understand nothing, that we applause and have fun when the song just sang was sad and so on... the worst is when, after a JOY DIVISION’s cover (at least remember the lyrics when you play a so important cover) they gently invite the public to hang themselves. Really a drunken poor man willing to cross out in an hour 26 years of good music, leaving in all the real fans of the band (the ones who have all the records in Lp and CD, the original 7", know the lyrics by heart) a sense of disgust and sadness. The last pearl has been when Christophe Demarthe announces the new songs, a new "dark disco" genre they pretend to have invented right now and they’re proposing during concerts... so you’d expect some gothic dance maybe different from the usual ebm or techno-industrial, maybe more new-wave oriented or other things... NO, it’s the 20 years old style that bands like FRONT 242 and others played in the eighties... THIS IS THE NEW GENRE THEY INVENTED JUST NOW as they presumptuously declare? Forget it, go back to your CLAIR OBSCUR records collection. Never again.
This is the second time the band from Rome comes to Sudterranea Club, in Naples. I remember last time, in December 2005, their concert was a great experience, while I didn’t appreciate so much the following exhibition at ObcureFest in May, when they seemed too pretentious to me.
Now I confirm my impression: they give their best in small venues or crowded places, with smoke and people sweating, where they can involve the audience in their ritual, and not in theatres with people nailed to a seat. I’ve never seen them in Leipzig (or in Utrecht where they supported BAUHAUS) but I think it was the same: give them reactive people and they’ll donate a memorable night, separate them from their public and they’ll play alone for themselves.
This time the first thing I notice is a general sleazy attitude, more glamourous and involving, starting with an intro where the common industrial or gothic atmospheres are substituted by a song directly from the Sixties (f I’m right one from Dirty Dancing movie but Im not so sure). But don’t think they’ve lost their obscure attitude, their theatrical pose or their decadent imagery: as the concert clearly shows, the intense emotions they transmit are the same as in the past, and the song are maybe even better than before.
Cruel with us, Wounded Canvas, Justine are one of my preferred, and since the first notes they open a break in my body, like a hand crushing my heart. We stand alone, the Ultravox cover included in their last album Every Mask Tell The Truth, is an invite to dance and jump. They’ve played also new songs, that show a conscious maturity: more electronic arrangements but not the simple techno beats and ts404 too many bands use to refresh their sound. They’ve reached a point where the influence of milestones bands of dark/deathrock is reduced and now the CHANTS OF MALDOROR speak their own language.
The only sad thing I could say about the concert is the limited audience (usually the room is crowded, today don’t know why we’re only 30) and the presence of a well-known local hothead trying to disturb the exhibition.
I strongly recommend this band to every dark/gothic/deathrock/batcave fan (people decide everyday to use a different definition, preferring to catalogue than to live the emotions). Listen to their album, maybe buying them and not only downloading, and see them live, for they were already a great band and they are continuously growing.
Echoes of Silence is an Italian New-Wave/Dark band (strong are the similarities with Joy Division) and they’re well known and appreciated here in Italy. It’s the third time they come to Naples, but I missed the previous ones. Now finally I can see them at Sudterranea Club, a small venue where every Saturday the dark-gothic scene gathers, and it’s with a great interest that I expect their performance. When they start with the first song, only few people are in the concert room, but soon the place is crowded, and people will stay until the end of their exhibition, listening, moving and dancing.
In my opinion, based on this concert, they’re surely overestimated. Songs are nice, but nothing particular or moving, I remember not a song or riff that entered my brain or a particular moment when I’ve thought "this is an interesting passage". What I remember is a harsh guitar sound playing isolated notes that didn’t fuse in riffs but, due to the lack of an even little reverb, remain isolated one from the other. I remember, too, a bass that each time uses distortion covers everything else, like a bulldozer covers with sand voice, guitar and drums, and many, too many times disagrees with guitar about the time of the song, playing in synchrony once every ten measures. Drums... sincerely I didn’t hear drums, drummer was there but none heard it: seems to me that played without the energy that post-punk band needs. The concert ends with a cover of Joy Division’s Shadowplay so muddled that even the band was laughing while playing...
I know, many could think that the quality in the exhibition is not the first thing to consider in a post-punk band, and you’ve to appreciate the attitude, the atmosphere, the energy the band gives. But I think that what was good in 1979 (like some Joy Division exhibitions, great for the emotions they give but musically speaking not so good) today isn’t appreciable anymore. You can be aggressive, sick, moving, desperate, even with a little (very little, I’m not asking for Malmsteen-clones) care for the way you play. Or you have to be so intense and involving and aggressive that anyone in the room will dance and shake, trapped in a whirlwind of emotions, like happened with the band FRANKENSTEIN, where none was still and we were too busy jumping to notice if they made mistakes on instruments.
I don’t want to believe this has been a standard ECHOES OF SILENCE concert, I firmly want to believe that this night has been a bad night, that they’ve heard nothing on stage and so was impossible to play well (a common problem in small venue concerts) and transmit their emotions to the audience.
I know they’ll play on 7th Feb 2007 in Rome, supporting CINEMA STRANGE, and I’m sure that they’ll do their best to show their qualities and receive the attention they deserve.