Speaking of the making the best of the hand that God or the universe or just overall randomness has dealt you, no list of top twenty records that most people probably haven’t heard would be complete without something dire and eviscerating from the Berlin outfit known as Einsturzende Neubauten. With Feurio (from 1989’s Haus Der Luge) getting the nod here because it is 1989, the year The Wall came down, the year everything finally gave. Not that the Einsturzende crew knew what was coming while they were recording the album. It was just heads down, eyes wide open industrial strength soul music, because when the enemy’s been at the gates your whole life, that’s what you do – you give everything, leave no energy un-realized, no noise un-made.
And nobody’s ever had enemies at their gates like everyday Berliners of the Cold War world (1945-1989). Hard not to be bleeding sparks from the friction of everyday life when you’re sandwiched between the world’s two great military powers, flexing their military and ideological bullshit for four and a half decades. So we get this fierce and timeless force of nature. Feurio translating as Fire— by pressure and body warmth / will our confusion become a nuclear fusion / and enormous / enormous / amounts of energy will be released. Which is exactly what it sounds like — the furious heat of souls that won’t bow down, that won’t submit to all the usual political economical bullshit. Or as Neil Young commented at around the same time. Keep On Rockin In The Free World, except Berlin was neither free nor un-free. It was the line between. Lest we forget.
These 12 Mixtapes of Christmas have got nothing to do with Randophonic’s other 12 Mixtapes of Christmas from two years ago, or even with Christmas (beyond being a gift to you). And they’re not actually mix tapes, or CDs for that matter – just mixes, each 49-minutes long, one posted to Randophonic’s Mixcloud for each day of Twelvetide (aka the Twelve Days of Christmas).
There’s no particular genre, no particular theme or agenda being pursued, beyond all selections coming from Randophonic’s ever expanding collection of used vinyl, which continues to simultaneously draw us back and propel us forward (sonically speaking) — music and noise and whatever else the world famous Randophonic Jukebox deems (or perhaps dreams) necessary toward our long term goal of solving all the world’s problems.
Bottom line: it’s five hundred eighty-eight minutes of music covering all manner of ground, from Roy Orbison to Curtis Mayfield to Can, Bob Dylan, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Kraftwerk, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and beyond (and that’s just from the first mix) — anything and everything, as long as it’s good.
“They did this at Expo 86. A free show at the infamous Xerox Theatre. It was June sometime, or maybe July. I remember it was raining. I remember the NOISE erupting out into the plaza, like a palpable monster. I remember two little girls crying, their mother in a rage. ‘Music like that does things to people.’ But her rage was impotent. Einsturzende Neubauten just kept raging, even setting the stage on fire toward the end, oil rags carelessly tossed, fire extinguishers hustled to the scene. This wasn’t staged. I remember thinking, yes, this is true heavy metal because they’re actually hitting, grinding, hammering chunks of metal. I remember a bomb going off on the McBarge (the world’s first floating McDonald’s) or maybe it was just a grease fire gone horribly wrong. I remember watching it sink into False Creek, no survivors, just blood and oil fouling the water, drawing hundreds maybe thousands of sharks. But the concert carried on. The cops were afraid to stop it. Eventually, the military was called in. Actually, that last part was probably the acid.” (Philip Random)
“The release date of Berlin based Einsturzende Neubauten‘s fifth album Haus Der Luge was 4-September-1989, roughly two months before The Wall finally fell. So yes, all that rage and delirium you’re feeling, it’s the real thing, the house is indeed full of lies, the new buildings are all coming down, Neubauten being one of those bands who absolutely sounded like the history they were riding, the sum result of forty-odd years of two opposed worlds grinding up against each other, something/everything finally giving. Historians now seem to give Ronald Reagan the credit. F*** that sh**. It was Neubauten all the way. Music that dissolved concrete, melted barbed wire, changed everything forever.” (Philip Random)
“It’s 1968 and even Frank Sinatra’s little girl Nancy is getting into the weird stuff, with a lot of help from Lee Hazelwood, who, as the story goes, earned himself a talking-to from a few of Frank’s ‘friends‘ from the old neighborhood for songs such as Sand. Which, it’s worth noting, I didn’t hear until after I’d encountered Einsturzende Neubauten’s rather bleak 1985 take. Strangely, Lee and Nancy’s original feels even darker.” (Philip Random)
In which Einsturzende Neubauten, barely four years on from tearing up condemned Berlin real estate and calling it Art (if not music), get traditional, dig up an old folk ditty (written by a Canadian) concerning the last man and woman alive after a nuclear war, and make it their own. Which is to say, they sharpen the edges, darken the shadows, pound some metal, and otherwise call out the banshees.
“When Einsturzende Neubauten recorded Sand, the Berlin Wall was still dividing their home town, a fact of geo-political nature if there ever was one. So yeah, here was a raw slab of pure, impossible to ignore Cold War soul. Little did I realize it was a Lee Hazelwood cover until a certain backyard BBQ maybe a decade later. The Wall was gone by then and even eight thousand miles away you could feel the overall decompression. Or maybe it was all the marijuana and tequila. Anyway, I was lying in a hammock counting the clouds or whatever and suddenly there was Nancy Sinatra doing an Einsturzende cover. It made perfect sense.” (Philip Random)