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Music / Einstürzende Neubauten

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Einstürzende Neubauten (Collapsing New Buildings) is a rather interesting industrial group from Germany. Originally formed in 1980, they were a major influence on the experimental end of the genre, due to their extensive use of various non-musical objects as instruments, often to the exclusion of conventional instruments. While always having a heavy emphasis on percussion and un-tuned sounds, Neubauten's music covers a fairly wide range of textures and styles, ranging from pulverising noise and ambient soundscapes to mechanistic dance tracks and understated ballads, their more recent albums being especially hard to classify.

Currently, the group consists of Blixa Bargeld, Alexander Hacke, N.U. Unruh, Jochen Arbeit, and Rudolf Moser.

Provides examples of:

  • An Aesop: "Headcleaner III" is not subtle in its condemnation of people who stay neutral in the face of rising fascism.
  • Apocalyptic Log: "Headcleaner III"note .
  • Bilingual Bonus: Bargeld has mentioned that many of the group's early lyrics rely heavily upon German language puns and idioms which are functionally untranslatable; conversely, he does the same with the band's few English songs.
  • Bizarre Instrument: Pretty much the point of the band from when N.U. Unruh sold his drum set before making a new one out of bricks and metal.
  • Broken Record: "Weil Weil Weil" and "Hirnlego." Bonus points for the latter for actually having the vocals and instruments skip like a broken record (as opposed to the chanting in "Weil Weil Weil").
  • Careful with That Axe: Blixa invoked this a lot in the old days.
  • Concept Album:
    • Tabula Rasa is in one part about the horrors of fascism and in another about how wonderful women are.
    • Lament is about World War I.
    • Alles in Allem is about Berlin.
  • Darker and Edgier: Alles wieder offen breaks the trend of Lighter and Softer taken by the band for its bleak and somber tone and lyrics, and Lament is also this trope since it was composed for an 100th anniversary World War I memorial in Belgium.
  • "Days of the Week" Song: "Mo Di Mi Do Fr Sa So"
  • Dissimile: Judging from the lyrics, "Die Explosion im Festspielhaus" must be a musical rendering of the Big Bang (who else than the Neubauten could attempt it). But, "galaxy cumshots"? For what it's worth, the Ende Neu liner notes say it's about the Big Bang and sex simulatenously.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Jochen Arbeit appeared as part of the chorus in "Was ist ist" before becoming part of Neubauten for good in 1998.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The obscure 1980 album Stahlmuzik featured a traditional drum kit, but its followup Kollaps had none of that. Both releases are known for being more intense and noisier than subsequent efforts.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: The band is famous for using this trope almost exclusively. Gamelan-like installations, bull whips, and sandals as a percussion section; jet turbines struck like xylophones; amplified springs providing bass guitar sounds. The band also uses traditional instruments in non-standard ways, including playing guitars with violin bows.
  • Feminist Fantasy: "Salamandrina" details how no mythical creature -— not even the phoenix -— is as powerful as the female salamander.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Blixa chose his given name in part because it sounds like a female name.
  • Genre Roulette: Neubauten gradually calmed down from the metallic percussion and noisy intensity of Kollaps in exchange for increasingly quiet conventional styles while maintaining the usage of custom musical instruments built out of found objects. Nonetheless, they still showcase a wide range of textures.
  • History Repeats: "Headcleaner III" ends with a warning that those who do not remember history (in this case, the horrors of fascism)—or who remain neutral to it—are doomed to repeat it.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Intentionally in the song "Was ist, ist." It has decipherable lyrics for the vast majority of the song, however, some parts are scrambled with static. When performed live, the band relies on a choir or their audience to fill those parts of the song with words made up on the spot — or in other words, "canon" lyrics simply don't exist there.
    • The last minute of "3 Thoughts" is virtually incomprehensible, aside from the final linenote .
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: “Tanz Debil”, the name of the second track of their first album, “Kollaps” translates to “Dance Retardedly”.
  • Intercourse with You: "Zebulon".
    • "Die Explosion im Festspielhaus" is an imagining of the Big Bang as a sexual encounter.
  • Irony: Einstürzende Neubauten were known for their... improvised pyrotechnic displays in the '80s. Rudi Moser, one of their current percussionists, is a former firefighter.
  • Lighter and Softer: The band went down this path with each single post-Kollaps album.
  • Meaningful Name: The cover to Halber Mensch ("Half Man") has half of the band's logo (a cave drawing of a human) scratched out.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art:
    • The front cover of Kollaps consists of only the band's logo and name with a background color being a shade of brown. Many other Einstürzende Neubauten albums like Strategies Against Architecture '80-'83, Fünf auf der nach oben offenen Richterskala and Ende Neu have this as well, the latter using the band's name over a human's eye and skin color.
    • Halber Mensch is almost literally the exact same thing as the cover of Kollaps, just with a different album name and half of their logo scratched out.
  • Multilingual Song: Several of their songs, especially post-Silence Is Sexy, mix up English and German lyrics. "Perpetuum Mobile", for instance, describes an international flight by starting in German and then switching to English as soon as the plane lands.
  • Never Trust a Title: "The Willy - Nicky Telegrams" from Lament. The title is silly; the song is a tense dialogue between Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicholas II. Justified in that the correspondences the band uses as the song's lyrics are indeed known as "the Willy–Nicky correspondence".
  • New Sound Album: Zeichnungen des Patienten O. T. introduced a wider range of moods, melodies, and sounds than the generally intense abrasiveness of Kollaps, a direction taken further into detail on Halber Mensch, which was succeeded by the dark ambient of Fünf auf der nach oben offenen Richterskala. Haus der Lüge includes elements of electronic and rock music but is less diverse than Tabula Rasa, that in turn is louder and more unconventional than Ende Neu. Silence is Sexy disposes most of the noise aspects found in previous albums in favor of restraint, resulting in softer songs. Perpetuum Mobile continues the relaxed and mature nature of Silence is Sexy while reducing the Sensory Abuse heard in the band's previous works. Alles wieder offen remained smooth despite being a slightly bleaker album. The World War I-centered concept album Lament is based off archived research and accompanied by odd instruments chiefly composed of objects related to the war and a string quartet.
  • Ominous German Chanting: "Halber Mensch".
  • One-Man Song: "Zampano".
  • Phallic Weapon: "3 Thoughts" asserts that all weapons fall under this trope.
  • Punny Name:
    • A literal translation of the band's name would be "Collapsing New-Buildings." note 
    • Ende Neu ("Ending New") is a pun gathered from the band's name - Einstürzende Neubauten.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: "Seele brennt", released in 1986, contains a verse where Blixa explains he'll be dead in two years' time from drug use. Because he didn't die, post-'88 live versions explain that he would've been dead at the rate he was going.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Inverted: Even the band's softer output has harsh elements sprinkled in, and their aesthetic in the '80s was outright deathly. However, the members themselves are known to be kind and affable, especially toward fans.
  • Sensory Abuse: Einstürzende Neubauten's output, especially in the 1980's, primarily constitutes of noises and textures made from using random objects like scrap metal, construction tools, et cetera.
  • Shout-Out: Their logo is an apparently meaningless old Mesoamerican petroglyph Bargeld discovered in 1980 when he searched for mythological symbols.
  • Something Else Also Rises: "Zebulon". Only she's gonna see the light first....
  • Stalker without a Crush: "Zampano".
  • That Man Is Dead: Downplayed: Christian Emmerich isn't so much dead as he is a distant memory to Blixa Bargeld.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Blixa Bargeld used to smoke, even during interviews—"Silence Is Sexy" features a cigarette as one of the instruments. Since quitting smoking, he's switched to herbal cigarettes when performing "Silence Is Sexy" live.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Averted. Neubauten had two female members pre-Kollapsnote , who left to pursue other projects.note 
    • Post-Kollaps, Neubauten have worked with a number of female musicians, including Anita Lane, Diana Orlof, Etsuko Sakamaki-Haas, and Meret Becker.
  • Vocal Evolution: Blixa Bargeld's vocals went from chiefly screaming in Kollaps to the quiet, low-toned singing in newer albums.
  • War Is Hell: Comes up in "Tabula Rasa" and "Lament".