Formed in 1980 in Berlin by vocalist Blixa Bargeld and American-born percussionist Andrew Chudy, Einstürzende Neubauten (German for “Collapsing New Buildings”) picked up the gauntlet laid down by fellow sonic terrorists Throbbing Gristle and Faust.
They explored their obsession with destruction using scrap materials and power tools alongside Bargeld’s heavily distorted guitar (their early recordings were conceived in a service hatch beneath a Berlin Autobahn!).
Recruiting Stuart “F.M.” Einheit from Hamburg band Abwarts, they set out to record “the most unlistenable album ever” with their 1981 LP Kollaps.
Opening with the sound of a broken record player, the mutant funk of Tanz Debil utilises innovative percussion made from metal pipes, while Steh Auf Berlin‘s devastation of drills, breaking glass over metal sheeting conjures images of some post-apocalyptic street carnival.
The nightmarish vision continues with Bargeld’s tortured scream interrupting the calm water and plucked guitar of Negativ Nein and the cruel machine ambience of U-Haft Muzak. Hören Mit Schmerzen (“Listen With Pain”) makes the band’s ideology crystal clear.
The album’s grandest moment is its title track though, with the slow ominous rhythm and explosive effects painting an horrific vision of the end of the world.