World War I in modern music. "Lament" by Einstuerzende Neubauten
Einstuerzende Neubauten (in English means Collapsing New Buildings) is a Berlin industrial band working from the early eighties. It's a musically creative group using of non-tratitional instruments: metal sheets, rubber tubes, hammer, pipes, wood, water dripping on hot stove, plastic barrel, razorblades on a mirror, air compressor and homemade instruments (eg. barbed-wire harp).
The frontman and mindmaster of EN is a "Decadent Dandy", charismatic singer/voice-artist/performer Blixa Bargeld, who also was a guitarist in Nick Cave's The Bad Seeds (he left the band in 2003, after 20 years of playing together).
Record "Lament" was released in 2014 during the 100th anniversary of World War I. This album came into existence from the eponymous performance on November 8th in Diksmuide in Belgium. Some of lyrics were taken from texts by war poets (other lyrics were written by Blixa Bargeld) and they have been found into the archives at Berlin's Humboldt University. Songs in German, English and Flemisch consist of the varied concept-album about First World War: sometimes surreal, sometimes comic, sometimes mournful.
"Lament" opens the cacophony of the sounds produced by metal objects and strings, the noise evokes the horror of war ("Kriegsmaschinerie"). Centre of this album is the three part title composition "Lament", which someone called "a death suite". It's a collage of various sounds, mix of some vocal drones, percussion beats, renaissance motet based on the Bible tale of the Prodigal Son and the sound recorgings of prisoners of war reciting the same story. This fragment is a tearful beauty.
"Lament" is an intelligent and deeply intelellectual music project. For example, the composition "Der 1. Weltkrieg" is a mathematically worked - each day of war has its own separate beat; each country represented by a plastic pipe and female voices recite the names of notable battles or campaigns. In another song - "The Willy-Nicky Telegrams" - lyrics are extracts from correspondance between Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar of Russia Nicholas II (today this song was called "The Angie - Vladi Mails" - Bargeld malicious notes). In "Achterland" the band used ammunition shells, in "Hymnem" Blixa took words from various national hymns. There also two covers of songs originally by the Harlem Hellfighters (the first African- American regiment sent abroad to fight). There are just a few examples of how imaginative this record is.
It's not only a piece of music. Just an art.
Below one of the more conventional songs "How Did I Die" (live version):