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Science Fiction Park Bundesrepublik Richard Foster , December 16th, 2014 11:49

Time for some wild, unfounded, sitting-on-the-privy-with-The-Sports-Pink theorising; rock reviewer style. Despite inventing pop (Bach, and why not throw in Mozart too) MOR (Hayden) Goth (Beethoven) Emo (Brahms, Brueckner) the future (Kraftwerk) and pretty much everything else in between, I suspect that many Germans draw the line at celebrating music which looks to be tricksy, to be underground, to poke fun at the social order. It just isn't their bag.   

I can only draw on my personal experiences to back this up. Back in 2007, I was invited to go to the opening of an exhibition of Can's Inner Space studios at the Museum Of Pop And Rock in Gronau, a Godforsaken town on the Dutch-German border. After a day of interviews with Holger Czukay, Irmin Schmit, engineer Rene Tinner and Mute's Daniel Miller, we were escorted to a televised night event, full of speeches that emphasized (quite rightly of course) just how great and important Can were. Can got played, people clapped dutifully and there was a disco of sorts afterwards, where no-one danced. Looking on at the studio audience, it dawned on me that the organisers, in their desperation to get bums on seats for the gogglebox, had rounded up a fair number of the worthy burgers of Gronau to make up the numbers. Most of these respectable folk looked on in bewilderment as Holger and Irmin clowned around. You could sense them wondering, why celebrate music that looked to take the piss, to confound, to be difficult?

This is what this compilation is all about, as it happens. Science Fiction Park Bundesrepublik is one of those sprawling, ambitious attempts to sum up a moment in time (the "doomdenken" early 80s), and a place (the bedroom studio) in one fell swoop. It's an exhausting listen; as you've got over an hour of angry crackles, thuds, hiss and yelling in German to deal with. But it's also utterly brilliant in places, and funny throughout.

As well the efforts of the celebrated and famous, such as Palais Schaumberg's Holger Hiller and CHBB, we get weirdo backwoods teens who channel the terrifying lava flow of their hormonal growth spurts to make fuzzed out, gloriously named sonic scenes like Hamburg's Der Leichenwäscher von Boberg (The Corpse Washer Of Boberg) or Rekronstruirtes Relativpronomen(Reconstructed Relative Pronouns). Reader, beware this brilliant booklet; as mugging up on scenes like The Republic of Tape Delinquents is to transport yourself back to a world of 13 year old ur-shamans standing on the threshold of a wanky adulthood they want to pillage and piss on, greenhorns plugging into the world of Casio and Cassette to fight off a Nuclear War death myth; one that - if it was going to erupt anywhere - would erupt in their very own Heimat. As Das Glück sing on Die Bombe; "Bombe fällt - ich überlebe. Krieg, warum denn nicht?" ("Bomb falls - I survive. War, well, why not?").

Attacking the state of the nation; albeit from your bedroom, wasn't just confined to the two Germanies. You can see similar (and well publicised) tape crazes running in the France, the Netherlands, and Belgium round the same time. But, as the booklet makes out the music this compilation has a very German sense of self. It's very clear that the idea of building a new town [sic!] in a split country drove the music released on labels such as Pissing Cow Cassettes. And tracks like Anadolu Bayramlari's 'Titremek Ve Terlemek' (a brilliant mash up of traditional Turkish lament and D.A.F. plod) channels the era's spirit of angst - and bittersweet hope in a shiny, microchipped future - perfectly.

Before I start to prowl round the flat (nostrils distended) arranging my unique (but stained) collection of Anselm Kiefer photocopies, it's worth pointing out that there are pretty predictable passages of grey and grizzled sounds on here; obvious sub-Faustian [sic!] things that, while not being filler for the sake of completeness, might as well be the recording of a muffled tannoy blaring out over a sawmill. And - courtesy of tracks like  Co-Mix's Revol Rules OK - there are lots of chortlesome Dada-style work outs. But fine. Most of the music on Science Fiction Park Bundesrepublik is magical; Wat?Sanitär!'s sarky take on 'Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey' can be seen by sub-academic chinstrokers the world over as a good example of how one generation's expression of joie de vivre becomes stale biscuits for the next.

As Viv Savage said on the back of the Spinal Tap tour bus whilst laying waste to some planets on his games console, there's a whole new world out there.

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