I first became aware of Palais Schaumburg when the group’s former members worked with Billy MacKenzie, the great Associates vocalist. Billy sang on Holger Hiller’s “Oben Im Eck” album of 1986 [that I found out about in the 90s]. Also Thomas Fehlmann, Ralf Hertwig and Moritz Von Oswald have lent their talents to remixing/co-writing/producing Associates/MacKenzie material to a highly successful conclusion. Particularly on the plush and streamlined “Outernational” album that seemingly I alone bought on its [brief] initial release. That tipped my hand to seek out Palais Schaumburg music, which wasn’t all that easy to find! Ron “The Man” Kane caught wind of my struggle and came to my aid with a 12″ from their debut album and a CD of their second [post-Hiller] album, “Lupa.” Now there is the debut album, seriously enhanced, in my Record Cell.
#7 • Palais Schaumburg: Palais Schaumburg GER DLX RM CD [promo] 
- Wir Bauen Eine Neue Stadt
- Die Freude
- Gute Luft
- Ahoi, Nicht Traurig Sein
- Grünes Winkelkanu
- Morgen Wird Der Wald Gefegt
- Deutschland Kommt Gebräunt Zurück
- Hat Leben Noch Sinn?
- Eine Geschichte
- Rote Lichter
- Macht Mich Glücklich Wie Nie
- Kinder Der Tod (Version)
- Kinder Der Tod
- Gute Luft (Live 24.1.1982)
- Hat Leben Noch Sinn (Live 24.1.1982)
- Herzmuskel (Live 24.1.1982)
- Morgen Wird Wer Wald Gefegt (Live 24.1.1982)
- Ahoi, Nicht Traurig Sein (Live 24.1.1982)
- Rote Lichter (Live 24.1.1982)
As I said, I have the 12″ of “Wir Bauen Eine Neue Stadt” b/w “Madonna” so those two tracks were familiar to me. Their twitch-funk was somewhat along the lines of the material on the “Lupa” album, albeit with a different vocalist. But I really wasn’t quite prepared for the full extent of the David “Flying Lizards” Cunningham production of the band’s debut album. The resultant near cacophony doesn’t quite sit with me as well as the single, and certainly the second album did. The horn blasts still come from left field when they are the least expected. The choppy No Wave funk rhythm bed is still there. The big difference comes down to vocalist Holger Hiller.
As on “Die Freude” [“the joy”] he really comes off sounding like a spastic Jerry Lewis fronting Pigbag! That the music is jagged and left field makes it a challenge to listen to, but Hiller’s vocals are amazingly grating over the top of music that demands a lot of attention to listen to. That makes the end result not only tiring to listen to, but annoying as well with Hiller’s atonal vocals sounding like the rantings of child-man Lewis at his most strident.
Music is a sonic manifestation of a formulaic mathematical progression that uses ratios and scalar relationships to mimic the form of the physical world while being an abstraction in and of itself. When some of the components of music deviate from the predicted path that the formula demands, the results become more interesting for me; but only up to a point. It is possibly to tip the scales too much in a contrary direction. But adding the spastic rantings of a vocalist who makes me think of Jerry Lewis is going too far for me. I can’t enjoy the first Palais Schaumburg album.
Which is a shame, since the second half of this promo CD is the material that sits on the bonus disc of the new 2012 DLX RM of “Palais Schaumburg” and it collects the band’s first three Zickzack singles dating from 1980 to just before the album was released in 1982. Those were compiled on the 1982 EP “Das Single Kabinett” and the material is more enjoyable to me than that on the album that followed. Hiller’s vocals are not so annoying here. Adding further cognitive dissonance are six live cuts from 1982 that appear here for the first time.
As I suspected, live, the band can’t quite avoid a groove with quite the same ability that they show in the studio. The material that was simply too difficult to listen to, especially with Hiller’s schtick careening out of control, is far more disciplined in the live setting! It’s hard to believe that these are the same songs being played live at roughly the same time as the album that’s such grating listening. The delightful results are left-field, for certain, but they exist within the realm of successful listening for me.
The commercial release of this disc is comprised of two discs; the ten track album and all of the bonus material on a second disc. My promo copy, in contrast, slaps all of it on a single CD. My first thought was to rid myself of the spastic “delights” of the album, but for now, I think I’ll keep the CD and take pains to only play the bonus material, which sits comfortably on the same shelf as other Palais Schaumburg material I’ve been able to enjoy in my Record Cell.
CONCLUSION: enjoy…with caveats
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