NDW Week – Dienstag: Die Krupps – Wahre Arbeit – Wahrer Lohn

Die Krupps were contemporaries of Einstürzende Neubauten who also picked up the musique concrete thread in a NDW context at the same time. Where EN used grinding machinery and the noise of construction/destruction as overbearing ambience, Die Krupps favored a minimal synth template together with a more conventional rhythm section of bass and drums. However, both bands were not only contemporaries, but labelmates on the German Zickzack label at the time of their emergence. The noise factor was present in the stahlophon that vocalist Jürgen Engler played. The resulting metal percussion added frissons of metallic chaos to their tightly sequenced music of unrelieved tension. As the band moved forward in time, their sound changed dramatically to the point where they are almost considered a metal band today. Not unlike the path taken by KMFDM as the industrial/EBM sounds of the 80s mutated into the post-NIN metal sounds of the 90s and beyond.

Zickzack | GER | 12″ | 1981 | ZZ 55

Die Krupps: Wahre Arbeit – Wahrer Lohn GER 12″ [1981]

  1. Wahre Arbeit – Wahrer Lohn
  2. Lohn / Arbeit

“Wahre Arbeit – Wahrer Lohn” is the band’s first 12″ single following their more abstract “Stahlwerksinfonie” release of earlier that year that sounded like The Stooges in free jazz mode [complete with sax] abetted with the sounds of sheet metal and industrial drills [mixed at Conny Plank’s studio, naturally]. The band’s transformation to the buzzing, two chord energy of “Wahre Arbeit – Wahrer Lohn” [A Day’s Work/A Day’s Pay] must have been shocking at the time, as this record sounds nothing like The Stooges ca. “Fun House.” This sits on the shelf right next to yesterday’s D.A.F. record with the simple, brutal synth sequences of new member Ralf Dörper [Propaganda] being supported with unwavering drums of Ralph Albertini and the intermittent bass ganks of Bernward Malaka. Over it, Engler’s stahlophon sounds like a cross between railroad track and bicycle frames as his “mallets” [steel pipe, actually] rattle and clang freely among the untuned striking surfaces.

Engler provides the equally minimal vocals together with guttural grunts and howls that are almost exactly like those used by Gabi Delgado on “Der Mussolini.” Call it something in the water, I guess. The whole thing begins and abruptly ends with the sound of a harsh shift whistle [actually a referee’s whistle here, not a steam whistle] that anyone who has been in a “company town” will recognize. I was late to the Die Krupps party, having entered via the Nitzer Ebb door [yes, them again!] when I happened across this record as a foreboding grey vinyl German import 12″ in 1989. This was the new version of  “Wahre Arbeit – Wahrer Lohn” that the by then reformed Die Krupps recorded with Nitzer Ebb in a great bilingual version with Doug McCarthy trading verses in English with Engler. This served to reactivate the band and reintroduce them after Dörper returned to the fold after the wreckage of Propaganda. The synths are bolder and less minimal than on the 1982 version and the stahlophon has been banished to the scrapheap of history.

Last year, both bands did a tour together in Europe and they have released an EP that was sold on the merch table. Four songs with both bands performing each other’s material. Intriguing! And as a fan of the “Machineries Of Joy” 12″ I’d like to hear this; just not for the price Discogs.com dealers are currently asking! Meanwhile, are you sick of red and black yet? We’ll see some new colors in the NDW rainbow starting tomorrow.

Next: Palais Schaumburg

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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2 Responses to NDW Week – Dienstag: Die Krupps – Wahre Arbeit – Wahrer Lohn

  1. Echorich says:

    Die Krups were full on and Stahlwerksinfonie and Wahre Arbeit – Wahrer Lohn felt like they belonged right next to Metal Box by PiL, infact I have a mix cassette somewhere with one side swapping back an forth between the two bands. I have to say I was way more into DK than Neubauten – some of that may come from the fact that they appeared on the scene to me as a Mute band which meant they had a lot to live up to and because they were just not enjoyable live when I saw them at Danceteria on their first (I think) US tour.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Not enamored of Neubauten either. I remember a Night Flight video for the “song” “Autobahn” [not a Kraftwerk cover!] where Blixa was shrieking over some howling sheet metal saws in the background. That was my first and last exposure to EN; a band that was certainly not about enjoyment. I’ve got a lot of comfort room for abrasive noise in my music but there still has to be a musical component to ground it. I felt that with EN my minimums for rhythm and melody weren’t being met; and I break out “An Index Of Metals” every once in a while for a spin!

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