Magnetband: Experimenteller Elektronik-Underground [coll] – [Bureau-b]
In East Germany in the 1980s, replication and distribution of recorded material had to be authorized by the State, and so a rich and creative DIY cassette culture emerged to share the work of artists too weird or too subversive to receive the GDR’s stamp of approval. This scene was the focus of Mannequin’s klangFarBe compilation from 2016 (in our library), and now of this new collection from Bureau B.
The 14 bands collected here had limited means and limited exposure to bands on the other side of the wall, and so the resulting sounds are wholly unique and varied. Take the Stoffweschel track (T6), a glitchy beat that gives way to a creepy, mechanical circus dub. Heinz and Franz have the East Berlin blues (T3), Der Demokratische Konsum lash out with noisy electro krautpunk (T9, Kriminelle Tanzkapelle bring synth dance rhythms and chopped vocals (T2), Choo Choo Flame features strange vocal stylings that remind me of Anna Homler (T5), Gesichter’s repeating tape loops has a hip hop feel (T11), and Musik zum Weltuntergang wraps it up with a 9 minute high-pitched drone track for the end of the world (T14). Many of the musicians here went on to more well known projects after the wall fell, including Frank Bretschneider (alias A.F. Mobius (T1, T10) and in Kriminelle Tankapelle (T2) and Heinz and Franz (T3)) who founded the klangFarBe label in the 80s and, later, Raster-Noton in the 1990s. Photos of the original cassette artwork and information about the bands are in the liner notes.