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V/A – 12. Elektrisch Festival

V/A - 12. Elektrisch Festival

CD, Black Rain, 2008

Reading like a “who’s who” of old-school industrial and EBM, the tracklist for this compilation will have aging rivetheads foaming at the mouth. A live recording from the festival held at the BPM Club in Zwickau, Germany, in October 2008, this record features two tracks each from the following artists: Absolute Body Control do their DAF-esque new-wave-meets-electro thing, followed by recent returns to the scene, Tyske Ludder, in all their bombastic militaristic EBM glory. This is followed by none other than early-90s legends, Denmark’s Birmingham 6, performing revisions of two ‘classic’ numbers – their excellent KMFDM cover, “Godlike”, and “You Cannot Walk Here”. These ‘headline’ acts are then followed up by supporting groups Escalator, from Hungary, Sweden’s Container 90, and Pinsel Liest!, hailing from Germany.
Despite the nostalgic response a record like this is guaranteed to generate, the music itself is not all that impressive. There is a large variety, from Pinsel Liest!’s spoken-word approach to what they classify as “Electronic Body Reading”, to Escalator’s Front 242-influenced old-school sound, or Tyske Ludder’s more contemporary harsh electro method, or even the ska-inspired sound produced by Container 90, but it all sounds rough and unfinished – an unfortunate side effect of live recording. There isn’t even as much audience integration as could be expected from a show of this magnitude. Generally, there is a lack of energy – possibly an unexpected effect of getting older performers that are seriously out of practice up onstage – as well as a lack of enthusiasm that must be noted. It must be considered, however, that most of these “senior” bands created hugely technical electronic music without the benefit of a tenth of the processing power most home computers now have as standard, so the slightly edgier, raw vibe throughout gives the recording a hand-made, punk-like feeling that somehow suits the mood quite nicely.
So it all comes down to three distinct target audiences that will get this album: old-school EBM fans sick to death of what acts like Speznatz are doing to try and keep the sound alive, people that attended the actual show and want a keepsake of specifically Birmingham 6’s first appearance since 2003, or die-hard collectors that want to show off their hand-numbered copy from a limited run of 500 discs. Personally, I fall into the first category and found this a welcome change of pace from modern industrial and electro. If you’re really just in it for the music, though, I would have to suggest individual albums over this compilation, purely thanks to the low-quality sound reproduction inherent in the majority of live recordings.


— David vander Merwe

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