Rare or Unreleased 21: Einstürzende Grundstück

Einstürzende Neubauten: Grundstück [.zip]

Today's view outside the Toilet Guppies HQ is rain on the construction work on the street below. So I'm suspending summer here on the blog, giving way to something industrial, man-made…

In 2004, garbage dump noise assault veterans Einstürzende Neubauten played a symbolically charged performance inside the former East German parliament, the Palace of the Republic, just before this monument to oppressive Communism was scheduled for demolition. (Just another revisionist event in Berlin's attempts at erasing certain architectural reminders from its collective memory.)

At the time, Neubauten were experimenting with ways of making a living from making music without being reliant on corporations to cover promotion, distribution, printing and other costs. They adopted the Internet porn model of website subscription, and recruited approximately 2,000 «supporters» who paid a one-off fee, not only in exchange for the CD that would result from the contributions, but also for the opportunity to witness the creative process (through regular webcasts) and sometimes the chance to provide feedback.

The first such experiment failed in its ultimate goal, as Neubauten had to cut their losses by making a deal with Mute Records to release the finished record—2004's Perpetuum Mobile. But «phase 2» of Neubauten's Supporter Project saw the experiment closing in on its goal, culminating in a CD released without the aid of a label. (The catch being that the edition was limited to the approximately 2,000 supporters only.) This CD, Grundstück, featured a five-part piece called, er, «Grundstück», in which live recordings from the Palace of the Republic performance were incorporated. At that performance, «supporters» had been invited to come down to Berlin a few days in advance of the show, to form a choir to be conducted by Neubauten. «Grundstück», then, is a kind of interactive piece, quite unique in the history of popular music.

After releasing Grundstück, Neubauten embarked on a parallel project to the Supporter Project, called Musterhaus. Musterhaus would consist of a series of CD releases (eight in total), released in the space of two years (in three-month intervals), for which buyers would have to subscribe, four CDs at a time. Musterhaus differed from the Supporter Project in that its music was supposed to be—and I quote—«experimental».

The seventh Musterhaus release was called Stimmen reste, and was a self-imposed restriction on the band to make music purely out of the human voice. Thus the piece «Kernstück» is a manipulated version of the choral work for the «Grundstück» section «Vox Populi».

The entire concept for «Grundstück» came from a song of the same name, created during the first phase of the Supporter Project (and available on Perpetuum Mobile). Here I've included the version of that song off the live album Prague Concert 2005, given away to supporters as a digital download, as well as the «Grundstück» piece featured on the neubauten.org supporter-only album Grundstück (the record features another four, separate songs), and the aforementioned «Kernstück»:
  1. Grundstück (live in Prague)
  2. GS 1
  3. GS 2
  4. Unseasonable Weather
  5. GS 3
  6. Vox Populi
  7. November/Sie lächelt
  8. Kernstück
Finally, for those who, like me, don't understand German, here are English translations of the lyrics:
Floor Piece

What am I seeking in your dreams?
I'm not seeking
I'm cleaning up

What you once put to the left
I pile it up, it will still be used
I just clear it away

All the wasted opportunities
Now as they are useless
I also clear them away

What am I seeking in your dreams?
I'm not seeking
I'm just cleaning up

Now all the beasts turn up
Long in hiding but still present
Under the stories
Not easily chased away

What am I seeking in your dreams?
I'm not seeking...

Until I see your dreams shining in the dark


We are him and him and him and him and her
And him and her and her and her her her her her
When are they coming?
When are they coming?
When are they coming, those there-beyonders?
When are they coming, those other-siders?
Hidden and disheartened
The unhung saints
The useful prophets
Erudite proles
Nesting beneath our roots
Unspent optimists
Nihilists find grounds to
Contradict themselves
Contradictions once executed
Are cleared away
What tomorrow is becomes today
And will be yesterday the day after
We are...
We are many

When, the all but extinct?
When, those without blemish?
Those eternal children?
Driven from paradise?
Fleeing rootless?
Pied pipers, hoarse singers?
Heretics, lyricists, exiles?
Who knew each other from the past
When, the betrayed? Sold short?
The bamboozled? Wasted?
Under the influence? Underground?
Who nearly went under? Almost sunk?
Who've long since gone missing
In the cold ocean of tears
Those presumed drowned
Heave themselves on board again
Then sing on altogether: When?
What tomorrow is becomes today
And will be yesterday the day after
We are...
We are many

We are him and him and him and him and her
And her and her and her
We are many

When are they coming, the metallurgists?
When, the demiurges?
The defectors? The deserters?
The know-all heavy-duty litters?
Do-it-yourselfers? Nutters? Welders?
Just tighten up the nuts
World menders
Start the machine
Abandon the ruin
Radical tunnel builders?
Mining fetishists?
Networking subversives?
Ground-breakers break-uppers
Remaining family?
What tomorrow is becomes today
And will be yesterday the day after
We are...
We are many


We have come
To collect the gifts

Unseasonable Weather

We bunker
We bunker

Catastrophes thunder outside
Permanent November

We bunker
We hoard
We dig in for later on

We hope we will remember
Where the heart of the matter is


We are the last
Stranded hounded
And again it's like it was
Again it is bleak and empty

We draw the splinters from our wounds
The planks from our eyes
And peer at least beyond our abyss
Into fathomlessness worldwide

We speak of the miracles
Still safely buried
Beneath our skullscapes

We are the last
Stranded wounded
Each and every one in his dreams
Disturbed and awoken:

I had a dream
Not a single man can say
What my dream was
To me it seemed I was
To me it seemed I had
The eye does not hear it
The ear did not see it
The hands cannot taste it
The tongue cannot grasp
The heart cannot repeat
What my dream was

Vox Populi

I wish some of my contemporaries were
Precisely that: conned, temporarily


The gown is in tatters with the seams
Beneath clear to see
It is stretched so taut, the stitching
Can hardly hold it
The cloth is embroidered
With avarice and greed
Each single section sewn together
With threads of lies
It is threadbare!

He who wears it bears it
But could tear it to shreds in rage
It is a shroud
It is a business suit
Turned inside out
The seams laid bare
Whoever sewed it thus
And why is it now no matter
It is threadbare!

We further unstitch the seams
Tear out the lining

We see what holds the different parts
Inside together
The whole thing is nothing more than a rag
It no longer means the world
It is threadbare!

She Smiles

She smiles
She smiles
In a godless moment
Suspended into the world
As a plumb line
She knows and she smiles
She smiles and knows
A simple cut
A simple cut

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