Music / Fraktus
The band that invented Techno
. As early as 1980.
They started out as an experimental band named Freakazzée
in Brunsbüttel, Germany (then known nationwide for its brand-new nuclear power plant and the accompanying protests against nuclear energy) in 1978. The members were:
- Dirk Eberhard "Dickie" Schubert: singer, shouter, additional percussion
- Bernd Wand: electronic sound effects, percussion
- Meinhard Gnom: drums
One day in 1980, the young producer Thorsten Bage saw them at a disco in Brunsbüttel. He decided that while they were horrible, they had some potential, and they were partly ahead of their time. He joined them as keyboard and flute player and producer, and after some discussion about band names, the band renamed itself Fraktus and went through a change in style. Meinhard Gnom was removed from the band itself but mixed them for a while and remained their roadie. He was replaced by the Beater, an electro-mechanical rhythm machine and one of Bernd Wand's several inventions for the band.
They had several releases until 1983:
Released on a small indie label, 7353=057
became a milestone in music history, the first album on which a four-to-the-floor beat was used in electronic music. However, Blixa Bargeld
supposed that they simply couldn't do any better. 7353=057
didn't become a hit, so while it inspired many musicians and producers (many of whom actually ripped Fraktus off, certain not to be caught anyway), it became largely forgotten like the other Fraktus releases—the even bigger milestone Tut-Ench-Amour
as well as their two major releases (which caused their fans to call them commercial sell-outs), Affe sucht Liebe
whose title track was kept from charting higher than number 21, and Automate
. Fraktus' sound was still copied mercilessly while the originals fell into oblivion
The end came in late 1983: The band played at the Turbine club in Hamburg when their Theremin
short-circuited and caused a fire which burned down the entire building; a parking deck was erected in its place later. Having lost all their custom equipment, the band split up, not even to be remembered by hardly anyone. Dickie Schubert stayed in Hamburg, Bernd Wand returned to Brunsbüttel to work at his parents' optician's shop and get his parents to join him in an even more experimental project called Fraktus 2
, and Thorsten Bage eventually went to Ibiza and became a successful producer of shallow German party pop.
One of the few who remembered Fraktus was the Record Producer
Roger Dettner. First he decided to produce a Rockumentary
about them, find and interview all three. But already while preparing to do so, he planned to get all three together for the first time in more than 25 years, and while he was at it, he wanted to reunite them as the band Fraktus and perform together again.
The first result of Roger's attempt at reuniting them was that they started bickering and almost beating each other up again. Nevertheless, he got them to try to make music again. But their sessions at Thorsten's Ibiza studio suffered from a severe lack of inspiration. Next they tried to perform live as surprise guests at a festival in Hamburg where they ended up being booed by the audience.
Their second studio visit didn't go ahead as planned either. The infamous pop producer Alex Christensen was hired to produce a new version of their almost-hit "Affe sucht Liebe". He was given some original Fraktus material, but he throws all of it away, composed half a new song loosely based on the old arrangement, and re-recorded everything himself together with the singer Yazz. Fraktus weren't even allowed inside the studio during the production process. Their involvement in "Affe sucht Liebe 2.0" was limited to a ridiculous appearance in the music video. Being discontent with the outcome, they nixed the release and the entire reunion, causing Roger to drink himself senseless and run amok.
One last chance was offered to them as Meinhard Gnom resurfaced. He said that their instruments were not destroyed in the Turbine fire, but he had rescued them and taken them to safety, and he was still in possession of them. Roger, now hiding from the police, gathered them, the band members plastered the city with concert posters over night, and Fraktus eventually played a successful and celebrated comeback gig at the parking deck where the Turbine used to be.
The best part about Fraktus' history, however, is: None of all this is true
. Fraktus are actually a product of the Northern German comedy trio Studio Braun in a successful attempt at faking a So Bad, It's Good
and thoroughly dysfunctional electro band to be portrayed in a Mockumentary
named Fraktus: Das letzte Kapitel der Musikgeschichte
(translates to Fraktus: The last chapter of music history
). Heinz Strunk, the author of the semi-autobiographical Fleisch Ist Mein Gemuese
and starring more or less As Himself
in The Movie
, is Thorsten Bage, Jacques Palminger is Bernd Wand, and Rocko Schamoni, author of Dorfpunks
, is Dickie Schubert. Their music was actually produced by Carsten "Erobique" Meyer.
Despite being a Fake Band
, Fraktus went on a tour through Germany around the time of the film release. The Studio Braun guys keep bringing back Fraktus every once in a while.
Fraktus and Das letzte Kapitel der Musikgeschichte provide examples of:
- Adaptation Displacement: In-Universe, with Fraktus always being the victims. See Suspiciously Similar Song.
- All There in the Manual: More information about the band can be found in the bonus material on the DVD or Blu-Ray and in interviews than in the actual film.
- Anything Can Be Music: Freakazzée more than Fraktus. They even had a track named "Big Bell" which consisted of nothing but dog barking. Bernd Wand says people were shocked about the song because they expected bells. ("Bellen" is German for "to bark".)
- As Himself: Alex Christensen in The Movie. Studio Braun were afraid that he wouldn't agree to being parodied so mercilessly, but he actually deliberately cranked the way he was portrayed Up to Eleven.
- Battle of the Bands: Thorsten discovered Freakazzée at one in Brunsbüttel.
- Berserk Button: After Fraktus bombed on stage, their comeback single has been produced entirely without their involvement, and the band decide they have no future, Roger whose idea the entire reunion was runs amok. It gets worse for quite a while from that point on.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: A rare In-Universe example. The reunion hug scene in Roger Dettner's Rockumentary has to be redone several times, once because Dickie Schubert peeped into the camera.
- Bittersweet Ending: Roger Dettner turns himself in to the police by the end of The Movie and is convicted afterwards.
- Bizarre Instrument: Fraktus had several of these, including an "electric bagpipe" fashioned out of a hairdryer and a recorder, the "Beater", a mechanical rhythm machine which is claimed to be the first beatbox, and an esoteric rotary iron called "Lichtmangel".
- The Cameo: All You Need is Cash-style. Lots of musicians appear in interviews and claim that Fraktus have influenced them including:
- H.P. Baxxter of Scooter
- Dieter Meier of Yello.
- Jan Delay
- Stephan Remmler of Trio
- Blixa Bargeld of Einstuerzende Neubauten
- Techno DJ legends Westbam and Marusha
- Chroma Key: The "Affe sucht Liebe 2.0" clip was to be produced that way. Since this happens In-Universe, the blue screen backdrop (and the whole studio with it) is shown after Fraktus literally crash the take.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Roger Dettner borders on one. He believes so firmly in a Fraktus reunion that he eventually really manages to initiate it.
- Determinator: Roger Dettner. Fraktus are a totally lost cause, but he tries his best to push their comeback through anyway. The worse it gets when he finally gives up.
- The '80s: Fraktus influenced both the decade and, years later, Techno music.
- Electronic Music: Mostly. The Beater, the Electric Bagpipe and Thorsten's flute are acoustic.
- Embarrassing Tattoo: Dickie and Bernd can't help but giggle about Thorsten Bage's tramp stamp.
- Everything Is an Instrument: During the first interview before the reunion, Dickie Schubert uses a kitchen tap as what he claims to be a beatbox.
- Executive Meddling: Fraktus' almost entire comeback, including the production of completely new music by Record Producer Alex Christensen plus vocals by Yazz instead of Fraktus themselves—Alex (who plays and therefore parodies himself) doesn't even let Fraktus near the studio to not let them ruin the production by actually recording something.
- Fashionable Asymmetry: Bernd Wand has quite long hair hanging down from the top to the right of his head – and almost none on the left. He is so fond of this trope that, while working as an optician in his parents' shop shortly before the Fraktus reunion, he actually tries to sell glasses with an asymmetrical frame to a customer and convince him of asymmetry being fashionable.
- Follow the Leader: Inverted. Fraktus are the leaders, and just about everyone followed them. It's just that nobody remembers this anymore.
- Fun with Acronyms: "All die armen Menschen" from Automate is abbreviated "A.D.A.M."
- Gratuitous English: "Kleidersammlung" is bilingual for no reason at all.
- Greatest Hits Album: Millennium Edition, also Fraktus' only real album release.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Thorsten Bage.
- Hypochondria: Bernd Wand, oh so much. He believes he suffers from quite a number of sicknesses whose names he picked up somewhere such as "Congo tongue".
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Dickie Schubert's joke about senior citizens dying at their computers after pressing "Alt+Entfernen". "Alt+Entfernen" means "Alt+Delete", but "alt" also translates to "old".
- Bernd Wand is no better: "BezauBernd" ("enchanting").
- In-Name-Only: Sort of applies to "Affe sucht Liebe 2.0" which is credited as by Yazz feat. Fraktus. Producer Alex Christensen did not use any actual Fraktus material and re-recorded the entire song. Fraktus themselves only appear in the video clip.
- It's Pronounced Tro-PAY: Automate is NOT pronounced the English way. It is (supposed to be) German and yet another Pun-Based Title, a pun on "Tomate" ("tomato").
- Mockumentary/Rockumentary: The Movie.
- Monkey Morality Pose: "Affe sucht Liebe" and "Affe sucht Liebe 2.0".
- The Movie: Fraktus: Das letzte Kapitel der Musikgeschichte.
- Myspeld Rökband: Fraktus' former name, Freakazzée.
- New Sound Album: Automate, the first and only album made after the band moved to a major label and became "commercial".
- The comeback single "Affe sucht Liebe 2.0" is even worse. It is yet another shallow euro-dance number sung by Yazz and otherwise "performed" by a studio crew. It sounds nothing like Fraktus because Fraktus were actually forbidden to enter the studio during the recordings, much less record anything.
- No Hit Wonder: A short-lived one, even. Fraktus could have had one hit with "Affe sucht Liebe" if it hadn't been prevented by certain people.
- Numbered Sequel: Bernd Wand founded Fraktus 2 with his parents. Shortly before the reunion, he and Thorsten discuss how to name a reunited Fraktus, perhaps Fraktus 3 because they can't be Fraktus 2 anymore. Fortunately, they drop the number altogether.
- Pun-Based Title: Every single Fraktus album title, at least according to Dickie Schubert.
- Rhymes on a Dime: "Supergau".
- Sampling: They say that Bernd Wand invented the very concept.
- Fraktus as a whole seem to be one to Kraftwerk who did start out quite wacky (as did Freakazzée) but became successful after going mostly electronic. Also, the Beater — a mechanical drum machine — is a kind of reversion of Kraftwerk's hand-played electronic percussion. Not to mention Fraktus' affinity towards nuclear energy; they enjoyed living in a town with a nuclear power plant because they had some fresh electricity, and they always wanted to play directly at the Brunsbüttel power plant with electricity straight from the plant. ("Kraftwerk" translates to "power plant", by the way.)
- They might also be a play on another German electronic group, namely Cluster. They, too, influenced the music world a lot because they were so obscure that one could easily steal from them without anyone noticing. The very same thing happened to Fraktus.
- Dickie Schubert shouts in a way not quite dissimilar to Gabi Delgado-López of Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft.
- Bernd Wand's family band Fraktus II seems to be one to Amon Düül II.
- Thorsten Bage wears a cap much like DJ Ötzi and produces similarly shallow party music.
- Sickly Neurotic Geek: Bernd Wand, even 25 years after Fraktus split up.
- Suspiciously Similar Song: Again, In-Universe. "Sonic Empire" by Westbam stole its chanting from "Supergau" by Fraktus, "Blue Monday" by New Order stole its famous bass drum line from "Affe sucht Liebe", and Thorsten Bage complains how the Telekom jingle stole a line from "Bombenalarm", removed two notes, registered it at the GEMA as their own composition and made it their famous jingle, all without paying Fraktus a single penny. Unfortunately, all these are far more well-known and popular than the Fraktus originals. In fact, Fraktus' songs are so obscure that it is way too easy and therefore too tempting to steal from them without anyone ever noticing.
- Of course, you should have noticed by now that this has been constructed deliberately by Studio Braun and Erobique.
- Techno: Fraktus invented it as early as 1980, many followed. Thorsten Bage claims that Fraktus even invented four-to-the-floor.
- Theremin: Bernd Wand plays one at Fraktus' comeback concert.
- Title by Number: Parodied. Fraktus' first album is titled 7353=057. When read upside-down, it is supposed to become "LSD=ESEL" ("Esel" translates to "donkey" and means "idiot" in this context) and be an anti-drug statement.
- Actually, just about everyone who isn't a member of Fraktus reads it as "LSO=ESEL".
- Toilet Humour:
- The fart song which a little girl records at Thorsten Bage's Ibiza studio.
- Thorsten wanted to rename Freakazzée "Kacktus" ("crap-tus") before the name Fraktus was agreed upon.
- Word Salad Lyrics: Just about every Fraktus song ever made.
- X Meets Y: Fraktus are Kraftwerk meets Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft meets Techno with bits of Daft Punk and Jethro Tull thrown in. Yes, Jethro Tull — like Ian Anderson and unlike Florian Schneider, Thorsten Bage plays his flute unprocessed.