Exploding out of West Berlin, Germany in 1980, Einsturzende Neubauten's unique approach to apocalyptic noise made them one of the most important and impressive industrial bands of the 1980s. In contrast to their forebears, like '70s British group Throbbing Gristle, who worked with a lot of electronics, Einsturzende Neubauten's sound realm employed more real-world objects. Starting out very crude and cacophonous, their music gradually became somewhat more melodic and palatable as the decade wore on.
In a live setting, in addition to the occasional guitar, they would never hesitate to bust out power tools like jack hammers, plus myriad other materials like shopping carts and random pieces of scrap metal found before each show. One time when I saw them, they even gently poured gravel down inclined lumber during the quiet part of a song, and their bass player was well-known for sweating buckets.
Their first album, Kollaps (1981), is completely packed with grating sounds derived from all manner of the aforementioned found scrap metal, while other tracks feature the band beating on tunnel walls accented with caustic, animalistic growls and screams. The follow-up, Drawings of Patient O.T. (1983) tempers the onslaught with slightly more convential elements, and dare I say a few hints of melody. Halber Mensch (1985) even welcomes a grand piano into their increasingly well-tempered din. FÃ¼nf Auf der Nach Oben Offenen Richterskala (1987) sees Einsteurzende Neubauten segue into an area of subdued, atmospheric songs with the tension piled on so thick, you couldn't cut it with a Texas chainsaw.
Ending the decade with their most palatable effort so far, Haus der Luege (1989), the band pushes forward with an array of grating yet rocking and occasionally danceable(!) tracks on side one, with more elegantly restrained atmospherics on the flip. Tabula Rasa (1993) virtually reverses its predescessor, with numerous tracks of gentile songs leading up to the final 15-minute scalding industrial rock of "Headcleaner."
More convential song structures, melody and harmony are bandied about on Ende Neu (1996) and Silence is Sexy (2000), while Perpetum Mobile (2004) returns to temper the harsh sounds with the moody, airy ambience of Funf. Alles Wieder Offen (2007) offers up more robotic rhythms with noise outbursts to display a perfect example of "sophisticated modern composition-meets-downtrodden pop song."--All Music. Originally only available as downloads, the tracks on The Jewels (2008) were composed by a card game containing music playing instructions that band members kept hidden from each other, and dream-inpsired lyrics, which results in another album of unmistakable Einsturzende Neubauten.
Public Impact: Although Einsturzende Neubauten were far from the first ship to sail under the industrial flag, they managed to weave an original, caustic tapestry of sounds into an ultra-gritty urban music that stoked out and inspired a whole generation of followers.