At this time of year, most people’s thoughts turn to holidays. Some people are easily pleased, while others struggle to find the perfect holiday. They spend an inordinate amount of time flicking through holiday brochures. Part of the problem though, is the amount of choice. However, one group of people seem to be neglected by holiday companies,…music lovers.
For many music lovers, their ideal holiday would one that takes them to one or some of their favourite musical cities. After all, many musical cities await the intrepid musical tourist in America and Europe.
Memphis, and it’s remembered as the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll, the home of Elvis Presley and later, Southern Soul. Philadelphia is famous for Philly Soul and to some extent, disco. Chicago for many people, is synonymous with Chess Records, eclectic blues, soul and house music. That is not all.
New Orleans gave the world Dixieland and R&B, Seattle grunge, Plainfield P-Funk, Washington Go-Go and New York hip hop and disco. Then there’s Detroit, which is famous for Motown and techno. Across the Atlantic, Britain and Europe has given the world their fair share of musical genres.
Liverpool gave the world The Beatles and Mersey-beat. The Midlands was the birthplace of heavy metal. A decade later, Coventry spawned T-Tone. Over the English Channel, Europe has been a musical hotbed.
One of France’s most famous musical exports was ye ye. It was born in Paris. A decade later, Euro Disco was born in Munich. Another German city, Dusseldorf, is famous for electronic pop music. That has been the case since the late sixties.
Since then, Dusseldorf has had a rich and vibrant music scene. It has been home to Michael Rother, Neu!, Wolfgang Reichmann, La Dusseldorf, Der Plan, Daf, Teja Scmitz, Die Krups, Rheingold and Pyrolator. They’re just some of the artists that feature on Groenland Records’ new compilation Electri_City 2. This sixteen track CD will be released on 12th August 2016 on CD and vinyl; and is a further reminder of the city’s rich and illustrious musical history.
Opening Electri_City 2 is Abendlicht by Wolfgang Reichman. His career began in 1966. He was a member Kraftwerk and Neu. After that, he became a member of Düsseldorf based band called Streetmark. Then in 1977, Wolfgang embarked upon a solo career. His debut album was 1978s Wunderbar, which was released on Sky Records. One of its highlights is Abendlich, an elegiac, shimmering and pulsating fusion of ambient, Berlin School, experimental and electronica. Tragically, by the time Wunderbar was released, tragedy had struck.
One evening in August 1978, two men approached Wolfgang Reichman. For no apparent reason, they stabbed him. That night, Wolfgang Reichman’s career was cut tragically short. Streetmark was released posthumously, and is a reminder of a hugely talented musician, who had a bright future ahead of him.
Nowadays, Neu! are regarded as one of the most important, influential and innovative bands in German musical history. Still, their influence continues to influence a new generation of bands. That is despite releasing just five albums. Their fourth album was Neu! ’75, was produced by Neu! and Conny Plank. It was then released on Brain Records in 1975. By then, Klaus Dinger’s role in the band had changed.
Klaus had moved from behind the drum kit, and was playing guitar and adding vocals. Adding the Dinger beat on Isi is Klaus’ brother Thomas Dinger. He plays an important part in the success of what’s a poignant, but mesmeric and thoughtful track. It opened Neu! ’75, which is Neu!’s most underrated album. Alas, it was the last album Neu! released for twenty years. They split up after the release of Neu! ’75, and only returned in 1995 with the controversial Neu! 4.
In 1980, Rheingold released Fluss as a single on Welt-Rekord, an imprint of EMI. Fluss was a catchy and memorable fusion of New Wave, Krautrock, indie rock and electronica. It also featured on Rheingold’s 1980 debut eponymous album. This was the first of three albums Rheingold released between 1980 and 1984. After that, nothing was heard of them until 2007. That’s when Rheingold decided to make a comeback. However, one of their best singles is Fluss, which helped launch the career of Rheingold, who are one of Germany’s best kept musical secrets.
Munich born Robert Görl was a member of Der Plan when they were founded in 1979. However, he left Der Plan after their first release. By 1983, he had reinvented himself as a solo artist and was signed to Mute. When Robert Görl released Darling Don’t Leave Me as a single, it found Robert duetting with Scottish diva Annie Lennox of The Eurythmics. Together they create a memorable, dance-floor friendly slice of sophisticated synth pop. It also featured on Robert Görl’s 1984 debut album Night Full Of Tension, it featured Darling Don’t Leave Me.
Die Krupps are a bands whose music has constantly evolved. Standing still wasn’t an option for them. Instead, Die Krupps constantly sought to reinvent their music. Their music ranged from noise, EBM, industrial and then during the nineties, headed in the direction of heavy metal. Back in 1982, Die Krupps released their sophomore album Volle Kraft Voraus! It’s an impassioned ballad where Die Krupps combine fusion of electronica, Krautrock and synth pop. In doing so, they showcase their versatility and determination to constantly reinvent their music.
Most people won’t have heard of Teja Schmitz. That’s not surprising. They only released the one single, Säuren Ätzen Und Zersetzen in 1981. In keeping with the spirit of ’76, there was no label involved. Instead, Teja self-released Säuren Ätzen Und Zersetzen. Alas, this backfired, and since 1981, the single lay undiscovered.
Then in 2013, Snowboy Records released Säuren Ätzen Und Zersetzen as a limited edition of 200. The following year, Säuren featured on Groenland Records’ Electri_City compilation. Two years later, and Studieren features on Electri_City 2. It’s another innovative track, where Teja Schmitz pushes musical boundaries to their limits. Elements of avant-garde, Berlin School, dub and electronica combine on Studieren to create a groundbreaking track that was way ahead of its time.
The DAF story began in 1978, when the band were formed in Düsseldorf. They released six albums between 1979 and 1986. Sadly, after six albums DAF called it a day. That looked like the end of the DAF story. DAF made a comeback in 2002, and releasing their seventh album Fünfzehn Neue DAF Lieder. However, many critics believe DAF released their best music between 1979 and 1986
By 1982, DAF were enjoying a rich vein of form, and were about to release their fifth album, the Conny Plank produced Für Immer. One of its highlights was the single Kebab-Träume. It’s a fusion of synth pop, electronica and experimental music. Add to this a post punk vocal, and the result was DAF at their genre-melting and groundbreaking best.
Pyrolator’s career began in 1979, when he released his debut album Inland. By 1981, Pyrolator was ready to release his sophomore album Ausland on Ata Tak. It featured Max, which was a musical melting pot of influences. Everything from electronica, synth pop and hip hop combines with avant-garde and Krautrock. The result is a truly captivating and carefully crafted track, that should have listeners looking for a copy of Ausland, to see what other delights await discovery.
In 1976, La Dusseldorf released their eponymous debut album on Nova Records. La Dusseldorf’s had been founded by Klaus Dinger after Neu! split-up in 1975. Neu! had just released Neu 75, but the album wasn’t a commercial success. This resulted in Neu! splitting-up.
A year later, Klaus Dinger returned with his new band La Dusseldorf. It featured Hans Lampe and Thomas Dinger. They released their eponymous debut album in 1976. It was produced by Conny Plank and La Dusseldorf. On its release on Nova Records, La Dusseldorf wasn’t a commercial success. Despite this, La Dusseldorf is a vastly underrated album. Somewhat belatedly, it’s receiving the recognition it so richly deserves. La Dusseldorf is one of the album’s highlights. It’s a driving, anthemic and hypnotic fusion of Krautrock, post punk and avant-garde.
Belfegore were a short-lived gothic new wave band who were formed in the early eighties. They went on to released two albums and several singles between 1983 and 1984. Their debut album was A Dog Is Born, was recorded at Can’s Inner Space Studios, and was then released on the Pure Freude label in 1983. Mensch Oder Gott opened the album, and showcased Belfegore’s gothic new wave sound. So impressed were Elektra, that they signed Belfegore.
Having signed to Elektra, Belfegore released All That I Wanted as a single. It became a hit on US college radio. Sadly, there was no happy ending. After the release of Belfegore’s 1984 eponymous sophomore album, the band split-up. That’s despite being so close to making a commercial breakthrough. Mensch Oder Gott is a reminder of the nearly men of German gothic new wave.
Der Plan were founded in 1979 and were together until 1993. During that period, they were responsible for some truly groundbreaking music. They constantly changed direction, as if afraid their music would cease to be relevant. In 1983, Der Plan released Gummitwist as a single on WEA. It has much more commercial sound than some of their tracks. It’s a memorable and hook-laden mixture of synth pop, electronic and new wave, that shows another side of Der Plan.
Liaisons Dangereuses only ever released the one album. That was their 1981 eponymous album, which was released on the TIS label. It was an album of pioneering music, some of which, was way ahead of its time. That’s the case with Etre Assis Ou Danser, which is one of the highlights. It’s propelled along by a drum machine and synths, before a post punk vocal is added to this fusion of synth pop, new wave, experimental and industrial. However, strip out the vocal and there’s a proto techno sound. Alas, Liaisons Dangereuses wasn’t a commercial success, and there was no followup. That’s a great shame, given Liaisons Dangereuses’ ability to create innovative music like Etre Assis Ou Danser.
A new name to most people, will be Topolinos. Their lineup featured Claudia Brücken and Susanne Freytag who would go on to enjoy commercial success and critical acclaim with Propaganda. That was still to come.
Before that, Claudia Brücken and Susanne Freytag were members of the all female new wave group Topolinos. It was formed by Sabine Wolde of Croox in the early eighties. Before long, Topolinos headed into the studio and in 1982, one of Topolinos’ tracks, Mustafa featured on Ink Records’ 1982 compilation Partysnaks. It was the perfect showcase for new, and up-and-coming artists. This included Topolinos. They combine avant-garde, electronica and synth pop with Eastern influences on Mustafa. Despite their undoubted talent, commercial success eluded Topolinos. Propaganda however, was a different story, and transformed the careers of Claudia Brücken and Susanne Freytag.
It was in March 1981 that Die Lemminge released Lorelei as a single. On the flip side was Im Himmel, a genre-melting track. Die Lemminge combined elements of ambient, avant-garde, experimental and electronic music. The result is an understated, thoughtful and strangely melodic track.
It’s no exaggeration to describe Michael Rother as one of the legends of German music. He’s been a member of three of the most innovative German bands, Kraftwerk, Neu! and Harmonia. This is what many people remember Michael Rother for. However, that is only a part of the Michael Rother story.
Michael Rother has also enjoyed a long and successful solo career. So it’s fitting that it’s a track from Michael solo career that closes Electri_City 2. Karussell is from Michael’s 1977 debut solo album Flammende Herzen. It’s the finest album of Michael’s solo career; with Sterntaler coming a close second. One of the highlights of Flammende Herzen is Karussell. It combines Michael’s Krautrock roots with elements of ambient music, and features a guitar masterclass. For anyone yet to discover Michael Rother’s solo albums, Karussell is a perfect starting place. That is the case with many of the artists on Electri_City 2.
For many people the Electri_City 2 compilation will be a musical voyage of discovery. The fifteen tracks, plus the hidden track on Electri_City 2 will just be the start of this musical journey.
They’ll decide to dig deeper, and explore the back-catalogue of the artists on Electri_City 2. They’ve all played a part in the Dusseldorf’s rich musical history. Some of the alumni of Dusseldorf’s music scene, including Michael Rother, Neu!, La Dusseldorf, DAF and Der Plan went on to enjoy long and successful careers. Sadly, commercial success eluded some of the artists on Electri_City 2, and it’s only fairly recently that their music has started to find a wider audience. That’s thanks to the release of compilations like Electri_City in 2014, and the follow-up Electri_City 2.
Groenland Records’ new compilation Electri_City 2 will be released on 12th August 2016. It’s available on CD and vinyl, and is a fitting followup to Electri_City. So much so, that Electri_City 2 is even better than its predecessor. That is despite Electri_City being one of the best compilations of 2014.
Electri_City 2 is lovingly compiled and eclectic compilation of music from one of Germany’s musical cities, Dusseldorf. Everything from avant-garde, Berlin School, electronica, experimental and industrial music sit side-by-side with Krautrock, new wave, post punk and synth pop. Often, several musical genres melt into one on the one track. The result is often a groundbreaking, genre-melting track. Some of these tracks were way ahead of their time. Indeed, it’s only now that the importance of this music is being recognised. Other tracks were truly innovative and went onto influence several generations of musicians.
Especially groups like Neu!, La Dusseldorf and guitar virtuoso Michael Rother. They’re true musical pioneers, who were leaders not followers. Nearly forty years later, and their music continues to influence yet another generation of musicians. That’s the case with many other artists on Electri_City 2. They all have one thing in common. That’s that their career began in one of Germany’s musical cities, Dusseldorf. Electri_City 2 is a lovingly compiled reminder of Dusseldorf’s illustrious musical past.