At the end of their first decade, it seemed as though Einstürzende Neubauten (”Collapsing New Buildings”) had finished their merry job of destruction: they had already sang about God shooting Himself and witnessed the downfall of the Berlin Wall; what could possibly present a further challenge? Themselves, of course.

First came the destruction of many things people took for granted about the band. The expectations of harsh metallic dissonance had to contend with the juxtaposition of orchestrated strings in pieces such as ”Wüste (Ballet version)”, composed for the Canadian dance company La La La Human Steps. The previously strict adherence to the German language dissolved into a profusion of tongues, as Japanese and French and Latin all found their expression within the context of the same project. This polyglot tendency became one of the pervasive themes of the Tabula Rasa triptych, consisting of the album Tabula Rasa and the EPs Interim and Malediction.

Not satisfied with the already theatrical nature of their concerts and site-specific performances, Einstürzende Neubauten pushed the collective boundaries of music and theater when they joined stage designer Erich Wonda for Das Auge des Taifun (”The Eye of the Typhoon”). Making its stately procession around the imperial Ringstrasse in Vienna, the moving stage incorporated elements such as artificial snowstorms and huskies on conveyer belts, while the band disported themselves in a space that resembled a bomber cockpit. The 45 minutes of this performance was later reduced proportionally to become the 15 minutes of ”Headcleaner”..

Continuing in a theatrical vein, Einstürzende Neubauten set up shop at the Academy of Art in East Berlin, and wrote and performed music for a play called Faust:: Mein Brustkorb: Mein Helm, written by Werner Schwab and co-starring Blixa Bargeld as Mephisto. Although (or despite the fact that) no deals with the devil were struck, the band started disintegrating: Marc Chung left at the end of the play due to increasing business demands, and soon after, F. M. Einheit exited in the midst of work on the next album. Keyboardist Roland Wolf, a longtime friend of the band and in the process of becoming a new member to replace those leaving, died abruptly in a car accident.

”We will become what we are: and/Ende neu”. Stripped down to the core configuration of some 15 years prior and forced to reinvent themselves in the absence of new materials to smash, Blixa Bargeld, N.U. Unruh and Alex Hacke found themselves literally scrutinizing the innards of the name Einstürzende Neubauten for the title track of their next album, Ende Neu, and the anthem for a regrouped and revived band, towards a future ”as great as New York, and more beautiful than the sun.”

Chiaroscuro is the art of contrasting light and shadow in a painting to provide an appearance of depth in a two dimensional picture. For their 20th anniversary, Einstürzende Neubauten turns their explorations to the complex interdependence between silence and music in Silence is Sexy, a sentiment at appears contradictory at first glance to their raucous beginnings. Surveying the latest works of construction in the center of unified Berlin, Blixa Bargeld simultaneously looks forward and echoes the name of the band, finding the new buildings destined to be ”future ruins, material for the next layer.”

Having mastered the art of noise and silence and every nuanced shade in between, where might Einstürzende Neubauten continue for the next layer?

Disc 1

Zentrifuge 4:47
1230te Nacht 4:09
Für wen sind die Blumen? 4:25
Redukt (live) 9:41
Ende Neu (live) 6:16
Blume (french version) 4:34
Three Thoughts (Devils Sect) 4:37
Implosion 1:31
Scampi alla Carlina 2:43
Snake 3:34
Alles was irgendwie nützt (live) 8:06
The Garden 5:11
Anrufe in Abwesenheit 4:15
Querulanten 0:56

Disc 2

Architektur ist Geiselnahme 5:06
Helium 3:11
Wüste (Ballet version) 3:47
Der leere Raum 2:01
Was ist ist (extended version) 4:20
I wish this would be your colour (live) 8:18
Bili Rubin 3:00
Die Interimsliebenden 7:15
Installation nr. 1 (John is mixing) 3:45
Montblanc 0:30
Open Fire 4:26
Salamandrina 2:59
Letztes Bild 3:52
Silence is sexy 5:55
Drachen 2:05

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