Various ArtistsBureau B
Magnetband: Experimenteller Elektronik-Underground DDR 1984-1989
Released: 17th February 2017
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Subtitled "EXPERIMENTELLER ELEKTRONIK-UNDERGROUND DDR 1984-1989"
Inspired by Punk and Post Punk, vibrant scenes dedicated to independent self-actualisation by means of sound circulated on self-distributed cassettes, then the cheapest and fastest medium, were developing on each side of the Cold War's confrontational line. Albeit under quite different circumstances. While there was a DIY euphoria in the West, which would also have had ideological motives, subcultures in the East simply had no other means at their disposal. Even the first act of replication meant moving into illegal territory, since every duplication was strictly sanctioned and had to be authorised by state authorities. Just like anything else, whether in print or where live shows were concerned. The protagonists - musicians, painters, poets, filmmakers, performers (often all at once) - were openly and unbiased crossing genres and jumping back and forth between various styles, having already taken their internal leave from state and society as they had done externally anyway. Disillusioned, and often ready to jump towards the West, these border crossers defined themselves rather somewhere between non- and anti-political, pursuing self-actualisation strategies by means of an extended niche existence. They took refuge in the search for ways of creative self-assertion and communication, looking out in sensual despair, utilising sounds of rage, linguistic wit and a passion for tinkering. Driven by ubiquitous boredom, equipped with plenty of time and free of economic restraints (or rather possibilities), labour was performed with no regard to the final product, hardly documented and almost never published. With the partial opening of state controlled media and cultural sites accompanying the beginning agony of the State, conditions changed. Suddenly there was radio airplay of supposedly illegal cassettes, and weird noise performed at Palast der Republik, in the end, even full albums by these so-called "other bands" were released on the state-owned label AMIGA.
The collapse following soon after relieved the activists remaining in the country of the quandary of continually having to re-position themselves. Many took different roads, some leading to Rammstein, others to Raster-Noton or groups like To Rococo Rot and Tarwater. The artefacts from that era tell of a stance of refusal in practice, and of the possibility to charge up on a high level, in spite of everything. Between being excluded and self-exclusion, truly wayward (twice literally) sounds and means of expression were developed. "Congruent with the absurdity of real existence", as lyricist and scene node Bert Papenfu put it.