The band with the coolest symbol is back, and continuing its existence off the grid. The Jewels marks the sixth year of continuing its efforts via a fan-sponsored strategy, where the band is free from any external expectations and has great freedom to pursue its singular vision. EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN grew from large amounts of restless kinetic energy, of pure intent and blended chaos marked by harsh percussion, of metallic noise and primal urges, inspiring the likes of PUSSY GALORE and TEST DEPT among others. After 28 years, the clang has mellowed but the intent (and most importantly, independence) still burns fiercely.
The Jewels comprises fifteen separate tracks which were originally released a month apart (on the 15th, except for the January 2006 installment) as downloads made available to their supporters, starting in March 2006. Said to have been inspired by dreams of leader BLIXA BARGELD (who left NICK CAVE’s Bad Seeds in order to give full attention back to Neubauten), the cd demonstrates its scattered origins, and is not as thematically strong as a proper LP could be. Generally low-key, there’s an icy detachment and mechanized hum to the proceedings, and despite the close, almost conspiratorial vocal presence of Bargeld (especially on “Jeder Satz Mit Ihr Hallt Nach”), I think that even a weak grounding in the Teutonic language arts would help the listener considerably. Where there are spaces of sound (such as”Mei Ro,” which could fit nicely as a soundtrack to a DEREK JARMAN experiment), the emotional weight is carried a bit farther. Some ideas come out as half-formed; the first English song (“Hawcubite”) is a sparse ninety second sketch, the title track name (referring to a 1700s London street gang) gently repeated against an emphatic electronic throb.
After probably the dullest song on the cd (“Vicki,” a lifeless, drab monologue that started out with a pretty cool jackhammer sound but lost the plot quickly), a techno-oriented “Ansonsten Dostojevsky” quickens the pulse, with sharp squelchy keyboard stabs standing starkly against organic vibraphones, bringing a slightly disorienting but ultimately satisfying juxtaposition. Which is actually a fitting metaphor for this somewhat disjointed collection, where heterogeneity is both a strength and a weakness.