Einstürzende Neubauten

Perpetuum Mobile, Mute
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The Independent Culture

For this follow-up to 2000's Silence Is Sexy, Einstürzende Neubauten take band democracy a step further, allowing fans webcam access to the sessions, with the opportunity to review results and advise changes. Quite how it works when the instrumentation includes such home-made devices as "air cake", "turntable-powered wind-instrument" and "olive-alarm" isn't clear - who knows what standards of performance apply? There's an apocalyptic theme running through the album, with an emphasis on rainstorms, floods, tsunami and ice in Blixa Bargeld's sinister wheedlings: the protagonist of "Boreas" finds himself stranded on a melting glacier, while "A Rare Bird" is depicted "flying alone to the towering peak of Mount Ararat", presumably from the Ark. But it's wind that powers the music, with air compressors driving various devices, and the band's trademark metal-banging is reduced to a few flourishes; instead the ominous puttering of plastic-tube percussion punctuates these surprisingly reserved, keyboard-based pieces. The discretion can be disconcerting: they may sing - or declaim - about "committing incest with the stars" and being "on the run from outraged masses", but the general impression is less antagonistic. There's an irony in the way this once-challenging, fiery band have become so restrained and polite, even tasteful.