Tuesday, 20 February 2018

1/2 Mensch

I was lucky to score this nice clean copy of Einstürzende Neubauten’s 1985 film 1/2 Mensch from Discogs last week, with the 2005 Potomak DVD now out of print, it was time to cash in my old VHS rip for the real deal. The Potomak DVD comes with an Authorized by the Band label at the foot of the cover, and it’s an important distinction from the disastrous (and unauthorized) Cherry Red DVD released the same year (and still in circulation sporting the same cover!) The Neubauten-sanctioned DVD still has the characteristic softness of a VHS transfer but what sets the disc apart from previous editions is the audio which sounds truly incredible even on my rudimentary set-up. The film itself is marvelous, director Sogo Ishii had shot some concert footage of the band on their Japanese tour, but expanded the film to include Neubauten performing in a dilapidated Tokyo ironworks which was due for demolition. This portion of the film feels like an Industrial re-write of Pink Floyd’s Pompeii film, and there are interesting parallels between both films, not least of all the emphasis on music-making gadgetry – those tracking shots snaking around Pink Floyd’s bank of electronic and amplification equipment, Dave Gilmour extracting as much unconventional sound from his guitar as possible during Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, are echoed by similar shots of Neubauten’s bewildering arsenal of noise-making devices, with Einheit and Unruh harnessing percussive and textural sounds from drills, jackhammers, metal grinders, a close-miked-shopping trolley, a large gas cylinder, and at one point an unwieldy aluminum air duct. Interspersed amongst the factory footage are videos of tracks from the Halber Mensch album, including a striking sequence featuring the avant-garde Byakko-sha dance group, appearing as bio-mechanical zombies with a taste for metal fetishism – a startling vision which must have left an impression on Shinya Tsukamoto. The DVD comes with no extras – a Blixa Bargeld commentary would have been ideal, but the set comes with a CD of the music performed at the ironworks.

No comments:

Post a Comment