Music Montag: Young Legionnaire

by James Glazebrook

Young Legionnaire photographed by Danny North - http://www.dannynorth.co.uk/portfolio/

Young Legionnaire photographed by Danny North

Young Legionnaire are back! Something of a supergroup from the UK’s post-post punk scene, YL consists of Bloc Party’s Gordon Moakes, drummer Dean Pearson and frontman Paul Mullen, formerly of yourcodenameis:milo (one of our few sources of North East pride), and now the leader of the brilliant Berlin-based-ish electro rockers Losers. Young Legionnaire are writing news songs (yay!) and will be threatening to blow Idlewild off the stage at Lido this Sunday, March 1st. Come get some.

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Music Montag: Lust and Sound in West Berlin

by James Glazebrook

Music activist Mark Reeder selects tracks from the 80s underground, to celebrate the release of his film “B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin”. Featuring Bowie, Einstürzende Neubauten and lesser known artists, this was originally posted on Red Bull Music Academy (tracklist here).

Mark Reeder grew up in Manchester, England, and just at the turn of his twenties, he moved to Berlin, after co-founding The Frantic Elevators with Neil Moss and Mick Hucknall. It wasn’t long before Mark had formed his synth wave band Die Unbekannten, while he was also Factory Records’ German representative, and general cultural activist around the Berlin Wall – he took the popular UK TV show The Tube around Berlin, organized gigs behind the Iron Curtain and wrote the soundtrack music and played a leading role in Jörg Buttgereit’s controversial movie Nekromantik 2. As well as being the founder and owner of the first East German electronic dance music label MFS (Masterminded For Success), he also mentored a young Paul van Dyk, helping the DJ to his world-conquering career. Apart from remixing several groups, such as Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys and John Foxx, he has also made the film B Movie: Lust & Sound In West-Berlin, a documentary about the city’s hedonistic melting pot of music.

Mark Reeder 80s West Berlin

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Music Montag: Atari Teenage Riot

by James Glazebrook

Atari Teenage Riot are back! The kings and queen of digital hardcore have dropped their new album today, so we thought we’d celebrate a band that is keeping the spirit of rave era Berlin alive – the only overtly political musicians we knowingly listen to. Buy Reset as a limited-edition bundle on the Hellish Vortex store, and check out the video for “J1M1″ right here. And below that, read an interview with bandleader Alec Empire, conducted just before the release of their last album Is This Hyperreal back in 2011. Restart the riot!

May 1st 1999: Atari Teenage Riot are arrested for “inciting violence” after an open-air performance at an anti-NATO demonstration leads to clashes with the police.

Unplanned and unintended, the May Day riot is nevertheless the clearest statement of intent from Berlin’s most politically active, socially aware and sonically confrontational band – a group whose first single threatened to “Hunt Down the Nazis” in the city’s notoriously nationalistic rave scene. By 2000, ATR have unofficially disbanded, in the words of mastermind Alec Empire, “burned out and fucked up”. Swansong Live at Brixton Academy, which records their onstage meltdown when vocalist Hanin Elias doesn’t show up at their all-important Nine Inch Nails support slot, leaves white noise crackling in its wake…

May 1st 2011: A reformed Atari Teenage Riot takes the stage for the recording of a Motor FM television show. The trio that have toured together since 2010 – Empire, singer/screamer Nic Endo and new MC CX KiDTRONiK – showcase songs from upcoming new album Is This Hyperreal? The show feels like a controlled explosion, thanks to pauses for onstage interviews and sets from other bands, and its location away from the epicentre of this year’s (peaceful) protests. But the originators of digital hardcore perform with the same commitment as ever. As Alec Empire explains when we catch up with him, “If you don’t do it with 100% of the energy, it’s very depressing!”

When we ask what prompted the prolific producer to make another album as Atari Teenage Riot, he explained how he got tired of watching the world sleepwalk into the future: “Hacktivism, cyberwars, the Government using technology to control and spy on people, while the music industry is going, ‘Hey, we’ve found the next business model…’ His eyes bug in disbelief when he recalls asking, “Why is nobody saying anything about what’s going on? Are you blind?! It felt like, ‘Sorry, we just have to do this!’”

Empire calls Is This Hyperreal? “the definite protest album for the Google age”. Atari Teenage Riot’s most focused and fully-realised work to date, it explores the power of the internet – how it can be used to promote or to restrict individual freedom, to challenge or prop up corrupt governments, how it is eroding our sense of history, and how we might move beyond it in the future in order to escape monitoring and control.

Smart stuff. But then this is the whole point of songs like the thrash-gabba anthem “Re-arrange Your Synapses”: “if there is no smart thinking behind political activism and it’s purely controlled by hate and anger then it doesn’t achieve much.” Empire thinks of this track in particular as an extension of earlier work, like 1995’s rallying cry “Start the Riot!” – which recreated the sound and the energy of a demonstration with “very simple lyrics and very simple music. You can go only with it, you can’t escape. And even if you can’t sing, you can get involved.” If ATR’s 90s incarnation was the perfect soundtrack to a May Day riot, then Is This Hyperreal? is a call for awareness and independent thought.

“Alec Empire” by Yo Pizza. under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Germans believe so much in the state,” Empire says. “Every problem that comes up, they always ask the government for a solution.” While his band is now as American as it is German (CX is from the States; Endo was born there), he feels that his home country serves as a good example of what can happen when governments are allowed to interfere in their citizens’ private lives. A recurring theme on the album is state efforts to control the internet or use it to spy on the people.

Empire draws parallels between this current, “very dangerous” situation, and the surveillance states of the DDR and, before it, Nazi Germany. A firm believer that “there is always a positive solution to be found”, he looks back into Deutschland’s dark past for answers to its current problems – specifically, the overthrowing of the monarchy after World War One and the breaking down of the Berlin Wall. The title track to Is This Hyperreal? features Empire shouting down a megaphone in German, addressing his government directly with a threat that he expects to draw the attention of the authorities: “If they continue to be corrupt and act in the interest of a few, rather than the majority who elected them, we as a people can always march up to the Bundestag, arrest them and start a new republic.”

If the nightmare scenarios depicted in it come to pass, Is This Hyperreal? could become a handbook for survival. In a neat demonstration of the “off the grid” lifestyle predicted by Detroit/dubstep pounder “Digital Decay”, the entire album was programmed on an old Atari ST1040 computer not connected with any network. According to Empire, the machine’s “smaller than small” 2MB memory does one thing well, “it forces you to get back to the basic ideas.” In an approach that will sound familiar to the 70s punks who took rock n’ roll back to its roots, he did “the exact opposite of how people do things these days, even with a laptop. And I find that liberating.”

Hyperreal? squeezes a surprising amount out of this vintage machinery, from the chip tunes churn of “Shadow Identity” to the title track’s throbbing, beatless homage to synthpunks Suicide, to the more familiar digital hardcore of “Codebreaker”. What’s more, the tag team approach of ATR’s live shows found its way into the studio, allowing Empire’s cohorts room to fight their personal causes – for KiDTRONiK, racism in the US, and on Nic Endo’s lead vocal turn “Blood in my Eyes” (available for free download), human trafficking and sexual exploitation. This new-found range has led Empire’s friends to reassess the band’s previous studio album (and überlin favourite), asking, “sorry Alec, but why wasn’t 60 Second Wipe Out like this?”

Atari Teenage Riot will be showing off their new breadth and depth with a European tour that kicks off next week with a London show featuring Big Pink and junior Atari pops Kap Bambino. Germany will have to wait until the MELT and Mera Luna festivals to catch sight of them, but until then, there’s Is This Hyperreal? itself – out June 12th. You don’t have to be an ATR fan to agree with Alec Empire when he says, “it’s important that certain music exists.”

Atari Teenage Riot’s new album Reset is out now. Listen to a preview over on Alec Empire’s Mixcloud.

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Music Montag: Classical Going Underground

by James Glazebrook

This edition of Stay True Germany, produced by the Boiler Room crew, focuses on the connections between classical and electronic music, which are particularly strong in Berlin and Deutschland as a whole. The beautiful mini-doc includes some of our favourite producers, including Carl Craig, Francesco Tristano and Berlin’s own Brandt Brauer Frick, so it’s well worth a watch. Also, look out for Klavírní, the forthcoming classically-influenced album from Emika, . Check her Facebook page for updates.

Emika Klavirni

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Metalcore Montag: Employed To Serve and Renounced

by James Glazebrook

By Mike T West.

In case you didn’t get the memo, January hates you. You’re getting no money, no gigs and definitely no sunlight. It makes you want to punch Berlin in the face, which is never good. Fortunately we have the cure for your post-Silvester blues: Motherpukin’ Metal.

The lovely people at Demons Galore have decided to give the worst month of the year a big roundhouse kick to the face, with a killer four band line-up at Mitte’s Marie-Antoinette, all for the price of a half Hähnchen mit Pommes at City Chicken.


Currently on a winter tour of Europe, two of the United Kingdom’s best new bands are gracing Berlin with their mosh-inducing presence.


Renounced are the best thing to come out of Berkshire since the Cooper Temple Clause (ask your Dad – or James) and have recently released one of the strongest metalcore albums since Artpop.

Meanwhile, Employed to Serve have just finished recording their debut record which they will be previewing tracks from this coming Thursday.


Both bands are currently on the rise with Renounced going on to play the legendary Ieperfest in Brussels with the mighty Crowbar next month, and ETS hot off supporting Pennsylvania doomcore titans Code Orange (who just so happened to release the best metal of last year… FYI). Catch them before they sell out, break up and charge 110€ for tickets to the ten year anniversary tour.

Joining them are two new Berlin based bands – post-hardcore punkers Sleep Routine, who are kicking off their first ever German tour this weekend, and the “not-so-bad-hardcore” mobsters Seek Nothing, playing their very first show!

Four bands under one bridge for 6 EFFIN’ German dollars?! Blimey.

The mosh begins 8pm this Thursday January 22nd, at  Marie-Antoinette, Holzmarktstrasse 15-18 – which according to Google Maps is located behind an art installation about the effects of police brutality


Only kidding. See you in the pit!

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Music Montag: HEADS.

by James Glazebrook

Your holiday’s over – deal with it. To help you get your nose back to the grindstone, here’s the grinding debut track from HEADS. “A Mural Is Worth A Thousand Words” is post-hardcore in search of a genre description to better describe its low-slung mélange of “Nick Cave ‘off heroin’, Shellac and My Disco” with shades of The Jesus Lizard and Quicksand. The two-parts German, one-part Australian HEADS. tracked their upcoming LP in a heritage listed building called “bikini test” in the Swiss Alps and mixed with Magnus Lindberg of Cult of Luna, so we’re expecting monumental things. No pressure, guys!

Also on the (not-so-post) hardcore tip, check out this teaser from local lads Seek Nothing. If this tickles your fancy, you can catch Seek Nothing supporting UKHC acts Employed to Serve and Renounced at Marie-Antoinette later this month!

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Music Montag: Best of Berlin 2014

by James Glazebrook

There’s nothing like a Music Montag end of year playlist to make you realise just how diverse the Berlin music scene is! Bookended by classic Zoë favourites that drive home the dominance of the city’s clubbing industry, elsewhere this year’s Best of Berlin runs the gammut of genres. There’s electro pop, indie, weirdo synth explorations, progressive metal, a healthy chunk of Bowie covers… even a hilarious advertising jingle and a track from a rock opera for kids! Hope you enjoy this pick-and-mix of the most interesting music (mostly) produced in Berlin this year. Boom.

Want to walk your ears down memory lane? Check out the Music Montag: Best of Berlin 2013 and the best of 2012.

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Music Montag: Nina Hagen, Naughty and Nice

by James Glazebrook

"Nina relajada" by inthesitymad, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“Nina relajada” by inthesitymad, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

We’ve said it before: Nina Hagen is the queen. So we’re going to give her the spotlight on this Christmas edition of Music Montag, for a couple of naughty and nice renditions of Weihnachten-themed songs.

First up, enjoy her doing what she does best, getting sacrilegious (ish) over the top of some bonkers acid techno. Then, watch the post-punk icon get visibly outside of her comfort zone, and still nailing it, singing a traditional hymn with an orchestra for French TV. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Naughty: “X- Christmas”

Nice: “Stille Nacht” (Silent Night)

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Music Montag: Erlend Øye

by James Glazebrook

Erlend Øye from https://www.facebook.com/ErlendOyeOfficial

We’ve slept on Erlend Øye‘s new album since it was released, but now seems the right time to celebrate Legao. Oddly released just after the end of summer, Øye’s second solo release is totally sun-baked, despite being recorded in Reykjavík with an Icelandic reggae group (which, apparently, is a thing).

So pour some honey in your Ingwertee, and bask in the humid, holiday romance vibes of “Garota”, filmed in Seoul. And for bonus open-air Øye, check out The Whitest Boy Alive’s white boy dancing in D E N A’s “Cash, Diamond Rings, Swimming Pools”, which is also guaranteed to cure those winter blues.

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Music Montag: J Mascis

by James Glazebrook

"j mascis 3" by Allison Harger, under Creative Commons (CC BY-ND 2.0)

“j mascis 3″ by Allison Harger, under Creative Commons (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Of all the indie icons currently spending at least part of their time in BerlinJ Mascis has to be our personal favourite. As the creative nucleus of 90s alt rockers Dinosaur Jr, he was responsible for slacker anthems such as “Feel the Pain”, accompanied by this hilarious Spike Jonze video:

But more, much more than this, Mascis has spent the years between Dinosaur Jr records by expanding his repertoire – recording doom metal with Upsidedown Cross, stoner with Witch, and chilled out and heartfelt solo material. Like this year’s Tied to a Star, which yielded another LOL-tastic video, which you can watch over on Funny or Die’s YouTube channel.

Join us in celebrating Mascis’ return to Berlin, by picking up tickets to next week’s show at Lido. Welcome back, Space Angel!

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