Personnel: Blixa Bargeld (vocals); Jochen Arbeit (guitar); N.U. Unruh (percussion).
If Einsturzende Neubauten's 2007 effort Alles Wieder Offen ("All Open Again") seems to be more of a follow-up to 2000s Silence Is Sexy than 2004's Perpetuum Mobile, it could be because it delivers on EN's 2002 dream of a listener-supported official album. Mobile appeared on the band's usual home label Mute so a tour could be financed. Even if it was hardly a throwaway album, the group's hunger for progress seemed undercut by the use of air horn blasts, metal crashes, and other devices that referenced the sound that made early Neubauten so infamous. Alles, on the other hand, was paid for by "supporters" who received interim recordings and an expanded final product different from the general release with bonus tracks and a DVD. As such, it's free to explore the more difficult and subtle side of the band's music. There are moments on Alles where tension escalates into something approaching chaos, and other moments where the rhythms are mechanical, but most of the album sounds like sophisticated modern composition-meets-downtrodden pop song, as if leader and head writer Blixa Bargeld was working on a Threepenny Opera for the 21st century. Displaying Blixa's love of irony and wordplay, the title "All Open Again" refers to something less positive than it might sound. Being "open" to a different way of thinking comes at a cost in his songs, as if it's a burden. Key track and single "Weilweilweil [Becausecausecause]" questions the "endless set of appeasements" society offers in lieu of answers and represents them with zombie-like chanting of the song's title. "Don't take the advice of those/who've long since frittered their winter fat/of opportunities" it continues, but if principles aren't sacrificed in this unforgiving world one gets stuck in the land of "Nagorny Karabach," where Blixa lives "up on my mountain/in my black garden/the enclave of my choice." His lyrics are matched by the equally vivid music. Making great use of basslines, strumming guitars, and sometimes even breathing, Neubauten create something rhythmic instead of just percussive and drive home the solitude theme with stretches of silence. The big eruption of noise comes during the lone sociable song "Let's Do It a Dada," and then it's a slow slide down to the insular closer "Ich Warte [I'm Waiting]." "Ich Warte" waits for proof that "life is not an error, not error and music" and receives none, but when Blixa declares, "I'm waiting for the new language/That will be of use to me" he only needs to look as far as the wonderfully unique album he and his fellow musicians have created. ~ David Jeffries
Spin (p.98) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Neubauten's finely attuned sense of sonic drama remains. A few tracks even sound like indie rock..."
Uncut (p.93) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[M]ost of this sees them in a more ruminative mood. 'Susej' sounds like a Fassbinder film being soundtracked by Brian Eno..."
Alternative Press (p.176) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "They've become masters of the white-knuckled, brooding epic....Their understated, cinematic grandiosity will stick with you long after the last organ drone fades out."
Q (Magazine) (p.116) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he pistoning rhythm of 'Weil Weil Weil' evokes an after-hours party in a VW factory..."
Harp (magazine) (p.110) - "Bargeld's deep voice makes him the master of suspense on the slow build of 'Unvollstaendigkeit.'"