Halber Mensch album cover
Halber Mensch

Einstürzende Neubauten

Some Bizzare

Halber Mensch – both as an album, and in its correlated visual form, a 1986 film, directed by Sogo Ishii, made during their tour of Japan in the preceding year – is a particularly forceful, hypnotic example of early Neubauten. A notoriously expensive album to record, its lush production focuses attention on the granular tonal detail of Neubauten’s music; even when they’re drumming out tattoos, or hacking away at their collective nervous system, the group’s music is startlingly open-eyed and clear. The title track’s hackled choir – a vocal take from the damned – is haunting; “Sehnsucht (Zitternd)” is chaotic longing reduced to its pulsing core, a two-note riff pounding through a landscape of haunted, clanging metal. But the masterpiece is an extra, CD-only track – the pulsing life-force of erotic noise that is “Das Schaben.”

Jon Dale

German junkyard art-rock pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten evolved quickly in the ’80s. Their earliest material was clattering and harsh, and that sound persists on this, their third album, but a newfound appreciation for studio effects is obvious. The opening title track is almost entirely a cappella, but the voices (the members of Neubauten joined by four women) are processed and subject to tape effects, surging in and out like someone’s turning volume knobs up and down. “Yü-gun (Fütter mein ego),” on the other hand, is E.N.’s version of a dance track, set to a steady rhythm with elements coming in and out at regular intervals as frontman Blixa Bargeld delivers a desperate, breathless performance. “Seele Brennt” is an exercise in dynamics, with literally whispered vocals frequently overtaken by clanging piano and bells, at which point Bargeld must shriek to be heard.

Phil Freeman

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