Palast Der Republik DVD

[MVD Video, www.mvdb2b.com]

Nearly two decades ago I went to see Einsteurzende Neubauten blindly. Expecting who knows what, I was drawn in to their name. Attached to a name as unlikely as that, I figured, there had to be some great music. Two hours into their act at the now defunct RPM in Toronto, I was slightly amused and overtly confused by the sight of one of their percussionists scraping metal pipes on top of a shopping cart. The sound was so annoying, so frighteningly beautiful and so morosely obscene; I knew their music was calling my name. Fast forward nearly two decades to November 4th, 2004. The venue this time was Palast Der Republik - East Germany's abandoned parliament building [which has since been demolished]. Accompanied by a huge choir [numbering 100 people] and a huge crowd of supporters, they put on one of their infamously scorching performances. Vocalist Blixa Bargeld has a firm grip on the proceedings. His icy cool voice rages with enough anger to tear the old parliament building down. Even though he's the clear leader, Neubauten also promotes democracy and a sense of communal well-being. This could very well explain why the remaining members of the sextet are given ample room to make themselves heard. Andrew Chudy and Rudolf Moser are heavily immersed in steel pipes, sheet and scrap metal and wheel caps. The sound that's given off is pure magic and fits extremely well to the ugly looking space they're performing in. Even Bargeld gets in on the act as he's seen striking half-demolished metal railings with sticks.  The huge choir the band employs is heard on a number of the tracks. Listen to them carefully on "Was Ist Ist" as they add a textural effect to the slush of industrial noise the band gives off. Their stop and go technique on this [and a few of the other numbers] works particularly well in giving the music a greater sense of drama. If you think the band is simply about noise, then you've never listened closely enough. Take a peak at "Perpetuum Mobile", as Bargeld lead a lovely ballad that's accompanied by light touch of stick slapping on wooden tubes, along with occasional tweaking on the strings from bassist Alex Hacke. The hour-and-a-half show is so well received by the fan, the band is forced to come back for two encores, when they perform "Die Befindlichkeit des Landes" and "Redukt". Band commentary and a trailer is all that needs to be said of the extras. "Palast Der Republik" is a massive tribute to a no-longer existing parliament building. Tastes change but luckily for us, Einstuerzende Neubauten remains unchanged.

- Tom Sekowski

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