SAMMLUNG-ELEKTRONISCHE KASSETTENMUSIK, DÜSSELDORF 1982-1989.

Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989.

As the seventies gave way to the eighties, a new chapter in Düsseldorf’s musical history began. Music like Düsseldorf’s landscape, was changing and changing fast. Düsseldorf’s city centre was undergoing a period of regeneration, with familiar buildings being given a makeover. Suddenly, it seemed that many of the buildings that had been considered Düsseldorf’s landmarks were being modernised. Even the Old Town, which was a bohemian area, full of students and people who were interested in  art, literature and music. 

Ever since the late sixties, many young musicians had gravitated towards the Old Town, looking for likeminded people. Given the influx of advertising and marketing companies, the Old Town was no longer the place it had been during the late-sixties and seventies. That was a golden period for in Düsseldorf’s musical history, when the Old Town had a vibrant and thriving music scene.

Especially,during the Krautrock era, when Kraftwerk, Neu! and La Düsseldorf would go on to release groundbreaking albums of innovative and influential music. These albums would go on to influence several generations of musicians. So would a new breed of groups that were formed late in the seventies.

In 1976, disenchanted and disenfranchised youths in cities across Western Europe, embraced punk. This included in  Düsseldorf. Suddenly, the Ratinger Straße area became known as the area where the punk community congregated. However, by the time the seventies gave way to the eighties, punk was a remnant of music’s past, and the baton had passed to post punk. 

Despite that, punk, just like Krautrock, would continue to influence the latest generation of musicians in Düsseldorf. Especially, the electronic instruments that many Krautrock bands had deployed so effectively on albums. They were also being put to good use by musicians from the Berlin School of Electronic music, who had released ambitious and groundbreaking albums. Even some of the post punk musicians were using electronic instruments, albeit with decidedly mixed results. Everyone it seemed was using electronic instruments by the early eighties.

That was no surprise, as the price of drum machines, samplers, sequencers and synths were no longer prohibitively expensive. Instead, they were well within the reach of even hobbyist musicians. This was a game-changer, and would make it easier for a new breed of musicians in Düsseldorf to record and release  albums.

They were part of a new musical community that was taking shape within Düsseldorf. Many of these musicians shared flats, drank in the same bars and shared a similar taste in music. They listened to Cabaret Voltaire, Eric Random, Human League and Throbbing Gristle. However, one of the favourite releases of the time was a compilation entitled The Elephant Table Album. It would influence many aspiring musician as they embarked upon a career as a professional musician in Düsseldorf.

Inspired by D.I.Y. philosophy of punk, many of these young, aspiring musicians in Düsseldorf decided to eschew record companies, and self release the music that they had made. Rather than release their music on vinyl, which was prohibitively expensive, many within the Düsseldorf music community released their music on cassette. This includes the thirteen artists on Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989, which was recently released by Bureau B.

Konrad Kraft opens Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989. It’s was released in 1985, and finds Konrad Kraft continuing to develop polyrhythmic structures on a captivating and mesmeric track. 

In 1986, Deux Balaines Blanches released their debut album Singende Dräht. It featured nine short tracks, that featured on a C20 cassette album. This incdued Draht 8, an understated, bubbling and hypnotic sounding track that marries elements of abstract and ambient with avant-garde.

One of the earliest tracks on the compilation is Bzw, which  comes courtesy of Ettlinger. Its lo-fi sound is  reminiscent of the soundtrack to early computer games. Having said that, there’s a cinematic sound to this melodic and member track.

Although Mentocome sounds like it was one of a new generation of eighties groups, it was the moniker of Axel Grube. He recorded fourteen tracks which were released in 1986 on Mentocome’s eponymous album. It wasn’t released on cassette. Instead, it was released as an LP on Giraffe Rec., and nowadays is a much prized rarity among record collectors. That is no surprise, given the quality of on B6 a truly ambitious and experimental track. 

Frigorex featured the combined talents of Dino Oon and Konrad Kraft, who wrote and produced The Beginning. It’s taken from the 1982 cassette compilation Im Namen Des Volkes. It features contributions from Goldfinger, Konrad Kraft and Frigorex. Their finest moment, is  The Beginning is  a minimalist sounding track that sounds as if it’s been inspired by one of Düsseldorf’s most successful bands, Kraftwerk.

Frigorex featured the combined talents of Dino Oon (Birgit Gasser) and Konrad Kraft (Detlef Funder), who wrote and produced The Beginning. It’s taken from the 1982 cassette compilation Im Namen Des Volkes. It features contributions from Goldfinger, Konrad Kraft and Frigorex. Their finest moment, is  The Beginning is  a minimalist sounding track that sounds as if it’s been inspired by one of Düsseldorf’s most successful bands, Kraftwerk. 

One of the highlights of Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989 is Dino Oon’s contribution, Nr. 6. It’s a carefully crafted soundscape from 1989, that has a much more sophisticate sound. Nr. 6 is also dark, dramatic, cinematic and timeless. 

Thirty years ago, in April 1987, the Wstretscha compilation was released. Although it featured sixteen tracks, it was a showcase for four up-and-coming Düsseldorf bands. This included Deux Baleines Blanche, Eiterschlangen, Wooden Barrows and Pfad Der Tugend, who contributed a  trio genre-melting tracks. Einklang found Pfad Der Tugen fusing electronica, avant-garde and Krautrock to create a moody, spooky and cinematic track. It’s without doubt, the finest of Pfad Der Tugend’s three contribution to Wstretscha.

Catherine Ledit masterminded Kurzschluss, who contributed  L’Inconnu to the Phase Pervers Kompilation in 1987. Stylistically L’Inconnu is quite different from the previous tracks on the compilation. Rolls of rocky drums combine with synths to create what’s best described as a dramatic, filmic soundscape.

Andrea Bearch and Andreas Bongartz wrote and produced the  Wooden Barrows’ 1987 track Zyklus VI. It featured on the Wstretscha compilation, which was released in April 1987. Zyklus VI is a really accomplished and atmospheric, cinematic soundscape that even today, would be perfect for a short film.

Catherine Ledit masterminded Kurzschluss, who contributed  L’Inconnu to the Phase Pervers Kompilation in 1987. Stylistically L’Inconnu is quite different from the previous tracks on the compilation. Rolls of rocky drums combine with synths to create what’s best described as a dramatic, filmic soundscape.

To release the music being released by the new bands that sprung up in Düsseldorf during the eighties, many small independent labels were founded. This included Turnabout Tapes, who signed Le Petit Mort, which was a collaboration between Catherine Ledit and Dirk Grützmann. Le Petit Mort released their debut album Inconsequence in 1986, and contributed to tracks several compilations. Geheimes Wissen is an eerie, rhythmic and hypnotic track from 1987, which showcases the talents of Le Petit Mort.

Originally, Strafe Für Rebellion released Boston in 1985, but four years later, it featured on their compilation Vögel. It was released by the British label Touch, and showcased sixteen tracks recorded between 1981 and 1989. This included Boston, an experimental track that’s haunting and otherworldly.

Maria Zerfall was at the heart of the Düsseldorf during the eighties, and was involved in a variety of projects. She also released a series of solo albums. However, Wohin featured on Turnabout Records’ Phase Pervers Kompilation in 1987. Wohin is an ambitious track, where Maria Zerfall combines elements of experimental and industrial music

Closing Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989, is Dörper’s Dream a track from Add. This was a one of several monikers Bernd Zimmermann has used during his career. Dörper’s Dream is a genre-melting track from 1983, where elements of dub, electronica, experimental and industrial music combine to create an ambitious and moody soundacape.

Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989 features thirteen tracks lasting forty minutes. Back in the eighties, these tracks would’ve fitted onto one side of the C45 cassette tape. This was a notoriously unreliable musical format, which is why so few of the albums and compilations that these tracks were taken from exist today. Playing a cassette was, and still is, like the musical equivalent of Russian roulette. Every time play was pressed, there was every chance the cassette would unravel. However, for new artists in the Düsseldorf music scene during the eighties, the cassette allowed them to have their music heard by a wider audience.

For artists and bands on a budget, it was possible to buy a quantity of blank tapes and record copies of the album at home. Some artists even designed their own cassette cover. It was a D.I.Y. scene, much like the punk era. Other artists and bands signed to one of the cassette labels, that sprung Düsseldorf. They’re well represented on Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989. For many people, this will remind them of their local music scene during the eighties. 

Every large town and city had a similar scene, where tapes circulated of new and up-and-coming artists and bands. Along with the burgeoning fanzine movement, it was an exciting time for everyone involved. Sadly, in many cities and towns, there’s very left to remind people of these musical scenes. Not every town or city will have a record company like Bureau B compiling a musical document Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989.

Not every town or city had such a vibrant music scene as Düsseldorf. That has been the case since the late-sixties. Since then, bands like Kraftwerk, Neu!, La Düsseldorf, DAF, Der Plan and Die Krupps have all started life in Düsseldorf, and gone on to creat important, innovative and influential music. While none of the artists or bands that featured on Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989 reached the same heights, they recorded and released ambitious, innovative and genre-melting music.

The music on Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989 features elements of ambient, avant-garde, Berlin School, dub, electronica, experimental, industrial and Krautrock. It’s a potent musical mixture, that’s variously broody and moody, to dark and dramatic to melodic and memorable. Other times, it’s haunting and otherworldly. However, one word describes much of the music on Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989…cinematic.

Throughout Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989 the word cinematic is the perfect way to describe the soundscapes. This cinematic sound has stood the ravages of time.That is the case with the majority of the music on Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989. This is testament to the artists and bands who recorded the music. All too often, electronic music doesn’t age well, and quickly sounds dated. Not the music on Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989, which features thirteen tracks from some of leading lights of Düsseldorf’s electronic underground scene.

Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989.

 

 

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