Einstürzende Neubauten – ‘Lament’ album review

A startling, cliché-free sonic memorial for World War I

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

While Britain marked the centenary of 1914 with a moat full of ceramic poppies, the Belgian city of Diksmuide took the inspired (if irregular) decision to commission cult German industrial punks Einstürzende Neubauten, who once famously drilled through the stage at the ICA. Led by Blixa Bargeld (also a key former member of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds), at their most thrilling, sensuous and violent Neubauten sound like an S&M convention in a scrapyard.

Infused with Bargeld’s belief that ‘war is always there’, ‘Lament’ isn’t exactly a requiem. It opens with the sound of a harp made from barbed wire, and closes with a louche cover of a proto-jazz song made famous in World War I by the marching band of the African-American and Puerto Rican regiment known as the ‘Harlem Hellfighters’.

There’s also a mournful German-language version of ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’, an Auto-Tuned telegram exchange between royal cousins Wilhelm II of Germany and Nicholas II of Russia, and a propulsive aural timeline of events (with one beat for every day of the war) that sounds rather like Pet Shop Boys.

A Frankenstein’s monster of a concept record, sewn – with care, flair and wit – from fragments of buried stories, ‘Lament’ is as much an attack on the conventional machinery of remembrance as the machinations of war. That signature Neubauten sound – a bright, cold, glittering cascade of destruction – suddenly sounds a lot like 888,246 ceramic poppies being crushed to smithereens.

What do you think of ‘Lament’? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.

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Listen to Einstürzende Neubauten on Spotify

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