└► BEℜLIN ŦOLK
There’s Eno and Bowie and Pop. There’s Gahan and Gore. There is basically an endless list of protagonists that got the nihilistic bug Berlin was once famous for during its constant state of transition and settled down in Germany’s capital - at least for a little while - in order to record their (temporary) opus magnum. Luckily they weren’t too good at cleaning up behind themselves, the musical footprints they left all over town being then absorbed by whoever was making the effort to look for them in order to transform them into something unique and mysterious again. Berlin’s creative crowd always was a bit more fucked-up and rebellious than their German equivalents, and obviously this was majorly reflected in the music coming from this very city as well.
We delved deeply into our record collection in order to dust off a few forgotten classics and personal favorites from a time when (electronic) music from Berlin didn’t feel like this synchronized and heavily generic pabulum, but like an attitude-driven and overall exciting musical wonderland where anything seemed possible. Charismatic Hugo Capablanca was the perfect - and admittedly rather obvious - choice for commenting on this particular selection: a style-assured and rather adventurous DJ, tastemaker and overall rad guy with a rare sense for obscure subcultures and uncharted musical territories that got inevitably changed by Berlin since he moved here in the mid 2000s from Spain via Kassel. He’s making this place a more beautiful and rich one ever since through his manifold DJ residencies, aftershow-sets, mixes, collaborations and very own imprint Discos Capablanca - which faces a busy release schedule during the next several months with new 12’s by Rouge Mecanique, Sharif Laffrey, Odopt, CVLT and some long lost Interessengemeinschaft Acid jams re-edited by close friends of the label. Lodown hooked up with him for a lil’ listening session in late August.
AGITATION FREE. you play for us today (1972)
Hugo: Drone comes in and I'm already sold... it feels so free. This is fine 70s acid music. Fear of having already missed out! Wish I could have witnessed one of these sessions back then, when no one had ever heard anything similar. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side, and I have indeed witnessed some pretty insane jams and moments - but, phew, the late 60s till early 80s is like... what DIDN'T happen in those years??! I'd give an eye for teleporting to NYC in the late 70s... or Berlin in the early 80s for that matter. Such wild scenes. When I moved here in the mid 2000s, I remember meeting someone who was like "you should have seen this city ten years ago" and I thought, "well, it seems pretty fucking cool to me right now". Now I kinda feel the same way, when I see people moving to Berlin right now. In a way, nevertheless, it's what you make out of the city, but let's not kid ourselves, there are moments and there are moments in time. Situations. Glad to have witnessed the last days of freedom in Berlin... or are they still ahead of us?
CONRAD SCHNITZLER. das tier (1981)
ROARRR!!! Just right up my alley. How could you describe this? Motorik minimal synthetic punk? Who cares!? Conrad's the man. As sick as it gets... he was such an innovator, a techno pioneer, a magician, really. Lemme check his discogs entry... well, he only recorded EIGHT albums that year. He IS “The Beast“. Mindblowing production. And it came out the same year as DAF's “Alles Ist Gut“ - wonder if they were in contact somehow... whatever, it just feels right anyway. I love everything about this, sleeve art included. This is badass.
SENTIMENTALE JUDEND. wollt ihr die totale Befriedigung (1980)
Alex Hacke and Christiane F.?! Any given day, sir! This still sounds so fresh... I bought that “Berlin Super 80“ box where this was included when it came out, such a fantastic slice of registered subculture. Everything here, the CD, the booklet and the DVD with all those super 8 movies are priceless. I also kinda got a late crush on Christiane because of that still picture of hers from the movie “Decoder“ reproduced in the booklet. At some point i started making photocopies of it, and painting over her, which lead me to eventually get obsessed with that film. I remember after moving to Kassel, Germany, to finish art school and discovering firstly DAF and then bits and pieces of the NDW scene - I just tuned in with this sensibility and decided I would also remain an eternal dilettante because everything today seems so polished and airbrushed... and I'm just a sucker for these spontaneous blasts of raw energy and creativity. Like not just regurgitating the same idea or chords or beats or pads over and over and over again, or "nice" well produced sounds without much content - that’s just so boring to me. And this who-gives-a-flying-fuck-yet-very importantly-so-nonchalant attitude. Love it. Attitude kids. That's where it's at.
JÜRGEN ECKE. hayh-hayh (1986)
Hmmm, not my jam, really. Sounds too 80s bombastic for my taste. Although I could see myself having a silly night out (or three), and ending up dancing even more sillily to this at some random bar. I need to go to more random bars.
SCALA 3. hey narziss (1982)
Didn't know this one either. I like the vocal treatment and the post punk feel, but I’m not so crazy about this more conventional "band" sound, you know, all those clearly recorded guitars and drums. I always had a troublesome relationship to pop music and some of its conventionalities. Probably my favourite pop moment in Berlin at the time (or of all times, rather) is "Low" and "Heroes", but I mean, that's Iggy, Bowie and Eno at their fucking peak, absorbing the nihilistic zeitgeist of Berlin - so what’s there not to like, right?! But, yeah, otherwise I would rather fall instantly instead for someone perverting those pop rules and bending them into something way more... exciting. Like the Flying Lizards for example. I do love the Flying Lizards.
RICHARD WAHNFRIED. druck (1981)
This sounds a lot like Klaus Schulze... might even be him? That's his label, right? Ahh, sick, and Manuel Göttsching on guitar. I was with a bunch of friends at my terrace last night after dinner, and at some point I played Ashra's “New Age of Earth“, and we’d had a few mushrooms and the record would only leave the turntable in order to get a flip, over and over and over again. Best thing on Earth. Just laying there contemplating nightfall and listening to those sounds forever, getting lost in beautiful, new thoughts. It’s not called Kosmische Musik for nothing. Of course the shrooms helped make the experience a lot deeper and infinitely more interesting. Call me whatever you like, but I should probably also add my profound belief that if everyone tried a sensitive dosage of mushrooms at least once in their adult life, or as Huxley suggested in Island, as a pathway from youth to adulthood, the world would be a much, much better place.
ULRICH SCHNAUSS. monday paracetamol (2003)
Uhm, what's this? Not really sure if I want to know. Really not my cup of tea. It actually embodies everything I particularly dislike in music: crisp, clean production, kinda emo atmospheres and an overall indie poppy sensibility. Next!
1. FUTUROLOGISCHER CONGRESS. rote autos (1982)
Yeah! Much better... diggin’ those synths! That's a great band name right there, too. Way more interesting in my book. Fun production and there’s some attitude in there as well. Although, from this precise time I'd go more towards Palais Schaumburg or something like that. I'm really into bands like that, which defy the boundaries of what's music, extra points if it's wrapped in a Dada straight jacket. And that whole constellation with FM Einheit, which ended collaborating with Throbbing Gristle, Christiane F. and Burroughs, among others, in that movie I was talking about earlier, “Decoder“. It fascinates me, these kind of bizarre encounters. I guess it has to do with me not having any kind of musical education whatsoever, and I never appreciated virtuosos much, really, which lead me to those kinds of amateurish but highly original, transgressive sounds. I believe talent is mainly perseverance - or an ease if you like- translating your imagination into any kind of language.
DIN A TESTBILD. no repeat (1979)
Amazing stuff. This is Gudrun Gut, right? With this other guy. I'm a Malaria! fan, although not super familiar with this LP - but I’m pretty sure this record is some kind of "Cosmic" classic played by Baldelli, and I know they were pretty much the most legendary Berlin band from that era. This is kind of screaming for an extended edit, isn't it? So good! I think my buddy Alessandro from Mannequin Records just reissued this, gonna hit him up right away for a copy... totally slept on it!
SPLIFF. das blech (1982)
Hahaha, this is kind of hilarious! So over-the-top. You can't really listen to this kind of music without oversized shoulder pads, can you? In a way, I'm kind of sad I didn't get to experience this song first hand because it could be really fun to listen to, naively in your teenager years or so - but I can only be sarcastic about it now. I've been regurgitating a bunch of 80s sounds and images when I was a kid, so I know what I'm talking about. On the other hand I also regret being heavily exposed to some fucking terrible radio formula sticky sugarpop tasteless songs, because when you're a kid that kind of crap laser engraves in your brain and will never, ever leave. So parents, pay attention what you expose your kids to! Feed them good sounds from birth and they'll be forever grateful. Just saying.
Hugo Capablanca’s long-overdue solo EP “Lap Top Less Dance“ will be out later this year.
and also make sure to give this superb mix a listen Hugo did a couple of weeks ago for our Monday Mixtape podcast series: