Einstürzende Neubauten: Silence Is Sexy

[19 June 2000]

By Theo Rhodes

Many bands attempt to defy or destroy the established musical boundaries. Few succeed, and fewer still do so with the fervor and style of Einstürzende Neubauten (loosely translated: “imploding new buildings”). With their latest album, Silence Is Sexy, Blixa Bargeld and Co. continue to implode the structures of modern music, in entirely new ways.

Almost four years have passed since their previous album, Ende Neu, which represented a brief detour to Nothing Records, but also something of a departure from previous work. Silence Is Sexy continues that departure, becoming, in effect, a departure from a departure. Einstürzende Neubauten’s early work is difficult to characterize, falling at a juncture of noise, industrial, and other genres in a bizarrely beautiful cacophony. Shopping carts, chainsaws, flames, even human ribs joined more traditional instruments in creating their music. Despite the chaotic, fractured nature of such a sonic assault, there is a compelling, yet fragile beauty about it.

Silence Is Sexy retains that beauty, and redoubles the degree to which it compels. The chaos has been reigned in, channeled and focused, losing none of it’s fervor, but perhaps gaining power in its linearity. At first glance, some of the songs, even the title track, seem almost “normal”, especially compared to previous efforts from this group. However, the linearity is deceptive, and where the edges fray, older Neubauten stylings slip in. A certain minimalism and simplicity seems apparent, but is also deceptive. For example, the title track contains bursts of silence, as well as a repeated sequence of sounds which seems to be the drag of a cigarette, framing Bargeld’s distinctive vocals rhetorically discussing the merits of silence.

The other tracks are diverse, from the panicked German of “Zampano” to the relaxed and fuzzy “Heaven is of Honey”. The soundscape created in “Redukt” is phenomenal, and the lyrical content is inspiring, probably more so if one actually understands German. Silence is Sexy comes with a second CD, containing the final track, “Pelikanol”, an 18 minute improvisational piece.

All told, this album is excellent. Expect change, something different from previous albums. With a band like Einstürzende Neubauten, however, one should expect nothing less.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/einsturzendeneubauten-silence/