One of the finest, funniest and good natured of all home tapers, Harald Ziegler is also known as Sack. He has done hundreds of live performances and is a multi instrumentalist and singer. He still performs and is active today. One of Germany’s greatest underground musicians…ever.
Hailing from East Berlin, Dieter Zobel was very active in the DDR and then when the wall fell started collaborating in the west. He partnered with Jorg Thomasius on several tapes and also joined him in the improvising group, Das Frei Orchester. Later, Thomasius left and was replaced by Lord Litter. Zobel also recorded a few solo tapes as well.
This band, led by Thomas Bochner, produced many fine tapes of original progressive rock music influenced by classical, opera and occasionally jazz.
From Frankfurt, Carsten Olbrich ran the Ebu’s Music label which included his own projects of punk, bedroom ( or in his case, basement) rock, and electronic instrumentals. He also released many tapes ( and then CDs) of other underground groups as well.
Andreas Bick is a musician and producer from Berlin. Involved in many projects over the years including his own experimental pieces and field recordings. Briefly in the 90s he was also producing hip hop groups in B Town. He has also worked for German television and produces works for WDR radio currently.
Some seriously wacked lo fi, hip hop from Germany, this tape continues to entertain and crack me up years later. King Steve and MC Nameless are the DJs here and their jive talking and throwing down is absolutely hilarious and their beats, while simple and low tech, are fun head bopping stuff. I just wish they would have done a full length tape.
Forest 4 were a quartet from Germany fronted by vocalist Sabine who has a Nico-like quality to her voice underlined by the English presentation. This short, enjoyable tape has an acoustic quality to it even though electric guitars do show up lightly. They do two covers, one by Young Marble Giants and one by Beat Happening. Released on the Endless Soul label.
Drum machine electronica now called EBM by some. M. Finnkrieg also released material on compilations I believe and this tape was rather typical of a style evident in its day. Not exactly sterile but not emotionally engaging either, a type of production that German electronic musicians excelled at. A nice vellum cover on the Deaf Eye label.
In my opinion, Jorg Thomasius was the primary experimental musician in Germany of the time ( mid to late 80s) . From East Berlin, he developed a style of electronic sound that incorporated looping, sound collage, keyboards and other strange sounds into a unique whole that always sounded original and not fashionable. He went on to release an LP on the Tomato label, collaborated with Dieter Zobel, Conrad Schnitzler and others and was an original member of Das Frei Orchester. He was later replaced by Lord Litter and the sound of DFO went from creepy and unusual to celebratory free rock improv.
Siegfried Grundmann-Neubert was (and is) an electronic musician from Germany who specializes in ambient but works in other styles as well. His Edition Grundmann-Neubert label has released tons of material and he has also collaborated with others, most notably, M. Nomized from France.
This is the only tape I believe I received from the German ensemble, Der 7 Versuch which means “The Seventh Attempt” in English.
Melodic but on the goth side, the German band, Sweet William, put out a few tapes and at least one CD. They could have a hypnotizing sound and their vocals were strong, guitars chimed and everything was recorded well.
Submitting a tremendous amount of material to various compilations, Nostalgie Eternelle, were noted for their dark and lonely sound that emanated from the cheap keyboards and drum machine that the two guys used to make their trademark dour material.
A live tape from Iansefra, an indie band from Dinslaken Germany. I think this is the only tape I have by them.
A three band sampler on the Oeynhausen label with Aktionfront Voll Panne, Das Ohr Platzt and Sub Standard Thrashers. Punk and thrash delivered.
1987 compilation assembled by Joachim Reinbold for his fine Jar Music label out of Berlin. My copy is now missing the credits so I don’t know the bands but it jumps around the German and international underground rock scene primarily.
The project of Carsten Olbrich, Schmertz Der Welten. I can’t pinpoint the date of release but early 90s I think. The German scene really used a lot of drum machine and keyboards at the time and this tape was no exception. The fidelity is good and his production was always solid. His German language vocals leaned a bit toward the pop side albeit in a twisted way like the bastard child of Sack and L’Edarps A Moth ( who lived nearby). His Ebu’s Music label was an important underground imprint.
Complex mood shifts and time changes from this hard rocking ensemble from Mainz. Mostly English vocals and real tight group dynamics, this was one of the better rock tapes I remember getting at the time, around 1990.
EP length tape from Mumm 5, a quintet from Bad Salzdetfruth headed up by Ulrich Hopf. Some power punk, some staccato rock and overall a good sound.
Some progressive rock that sounds higher fidelity than a home tape, this project from Arne Schafer dishes out a good sounding release dominated by keyboards and real drums. Think Thomas Dolby meets Gary Numan ( with a drummer instead of drum machine) and that might put you in the ballpark. From 1991.
Dino Oon and Konrad Kraft were an electronic duo out of Dusseldorf that also ran the SDV label. Using drum machines, synths and vocals they created works that veered toward avant garde while still engaging beats and quasi pop vocals. Dino Oon was actually a woman named Birgit Gasser who later moved to Berlin and continued her music projects there. They had a real nice studio at the time that featured a large mixing board, modern recording devices, high quality mics and even an isolated vocal booth. I recently regained contact with Birgit after many years and hope to get more input from her regarding her activities and memories.
The duo of Dieter Zobel and Jorg Thomasius from East Germany was an essential experimental project that was happening even before the wall fell. Utilizing loops, keyboards, guitars, tapes and many other sound making devices, these guys traveled from ambient drone to noise to indescribable otherworldly sounds. They also were two members of the German quartet, Das Frei Orchester beginning in the mid 80s, perhaps even before. In about 1990 Jorg Thomasius left to pursue his solo work and was replaced by Lord Litter who brought an entirely different slant to DFO incorporating blues and freewheeling rock. Their onstage antics got them labeled as a cross between a circus act and the Three Stooges.
The Zobel-Thomasius duo produced 3 tapes that I am aware of and all are crucial artifacts of self produced, avant garde improvising.
LISTEN TO THIS TAPE NOW
A very pleasant electronic tape from Matthias Brussel’s solo project , “Idle State” distributed by Ebu’s Music from Frankfurt in the early 90s I believe. Spacey but with occasional beats and outbursts of spoken word, this features many short tracks and is a nice representation of the electronic scene at that time in Germany.
Feedback Studios was located in Berlin and was an interesting place that I visited in 1991. One of the producers was Andreas Bick who showed me around this very nice, large space with lots of studio gear and a 16 track open reel recorder. Evidently, the German government had set this up as some sort of rehab/ community center and gave away free recording time to various musicians and groups. When I visited there was a lot of excitement about the German hip hop scene and Andreas produced many of those sessions. There were a variety of music projects though and they got released on a couple of different tapes. On this one to the left, the “Popside” of Feedback is portrayed by rock, singer-songwriter, hip hop and other genres.
Earth was the project of Wolfgang Erdmann. He released several tapes ( and later CDs) of very fine instrumental rock with some searing guitar. The tape to the left, “Moon” was one of his first tapes I think and set the tone for what was to come: drum machine and thudding bass driving the in your face guitar with hard rocking sounds. Sometimes they would get all spacey and float around but mainly he was here to kick some major ass.
Guitar driven rock with some nice hooks by this German band. I believe the main guy was Antonius Duwel from Steinheim at the time. A straight up, insistent sound with English vocals primarily. They also released at least one vinyl LP.
The Evasion On Stake from Hamburg practiced a type of doomwave fairly popular at the time in Germany. The pounding drums, the dour keyboards and the suicidal vocals were all trademarks of this genre and this group pulled it off pretty well. This tape was released in the early-mid 1990s on the Beton label.
I could not get the entire cover of this LP , “Ecstasy By Current” on the scanner but you can still see the international lineup featured on this compilation. Released by the Schizophonia label from Berlin in 1988 this was a fine collection of electro, experimental and ambient.
I don’t know if Das Bollwerk ( The Bulwark) were home tapers because I only heard them on this one independent LP where it was obviously recorded in the studio. Their clear, funky pop sound was lead by some real nice solid body guitar work. Vocals done in German and English. My favorite track was “Fuck My Horse” with a twisted take on the American west.
On this LP collection of short songs by German legend, Harald “ Sack” Ziegler, he incorporates a few other guests but mainly goes solo with his penchant for primitive pop, kitschy techno and a sound that veers close to the insanity of Yximalloo territory on this album called “Brick”. This LP must have come out around 1989/1990 because he gave it to me at his home in Koln in 1991.