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Kleenex/liliput

The Complete Recordings

(Kill Rock Stars; US: 20 Feb 2001)

Music history is filled with more unique and talented musicians that you’ve never heard of than you can imagine. And, considering the profit-driven mentality of most record labels, former musicians can find that their records go out-of-print and are forgotten about unbelievably fast. The extreme relevance of reissues lies within this fact, that entire musical careers will go forgotten if the generations to follow have no access to the music. Reissues aren’t just a matter of keeping history alive, but a process of letting people be moved by music from all time periods, no matter whether record executives think the music is marketable or not.


The musical legacy of the band known as Kleenex and then Liliput was in danger of fading away, though it goes within saying that their fans will never forget. The magic moment that lead to the current re-issue of the two-disc Kleenex/Liliput retrospective was the realization by the fine label Kill Rock Stars that this music had relevance to them, that it shared something with the music they were putting out and the musicians of today who they love.


The compilation, originally released by the label Off Course, includes everything the late ‘70s/early ‘80s Swiss post-punk band released, from their earliest recordings as Kleenex to their releases as Liliput, after the Kleenex corporation forced them to change their name. The two CDs are so filled with music that for newcomers like me it feels like entering a new world—and it is an entire world, an artistic universe put together by a revolving group of musicians, centered around guitarist Marlene Marder and Klaudia Schiff, the two members that stayed from beginning to end, from 1978 to 1983.


The earliest tracks on the collection have a sparse, punk-ish feel reminiscent of peers the Raincoats. The guitars are sturdy and jagged, the drums uptempo and the vocals move from sung to screamed. As the CDs (and their career) progress, the music gets more varied without losing any of the energy or force. A saxophone is added to the mix, and the music gets bouncier, more like a child’s birthday party gone punk than the skeletal art-rock numbers of the earlier days.


This collection is filled with so much music, from singles and albums to raw live tracks, that it’s tough to pick the parts that are more worthy of mention than others. And, in fact, it’s all worth writing about, and listening to. To me, Kleenex/Liliput’s most striking feature is the way they play however and whatever they want with a headstrong attitude that says “this is our music, do what you will with it.” They convey both raw power and a sense of absolute creative freedom with every track, whether it’s a bouncy more pop-ish number or an angular piece of post-punk. They’re easy to fit within categories of both punk rock and feminism, yet they play with such a carefree, wild attitude that it’s hard to imagine them pausing to intellectualize or categorize what they do. Bless Kill Rock Stars for picking this music back up again. It’s not only as relevant as ever in terms of what’s going on within music today, but it also has a sheer force and creative breadth that makes it feel like a classic, like something that will always seem just as alive as it did when it was created.

Dave Heaton has been writing about music on a regular basis since 1993, first for unofficial college-town newspapers and DIY fanzines and now mostly on the Internet. In 2000, the same year he started writing for PopMatters, he founded the online arts magazine ErasingClouds.com, still around but often in flux. He writes music reviews for the print magazine The Big Takeover. He is a music obsessive through and through. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.


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