Nina Hagen: Nunsexmonkrock/Nina Hagen Band

Columbia | US | CD | 1991 | CK 46993

Columbia | US | CD | 1991 | CK 46993

Nina Hagen/Nina Hagen Band: Nunsexmonkrock/Nina Hagen Band US CD [1991]

  1. Antiworld
  2. Smack Jack
  3. Taitschi-Tarot
  4. Dread Love
  5. Future Is Now
  6. Born In XIXAX
  7. Iki Maska
  8. Dr. Art
  9. Cosma Shiva
  10. UFO
  11. TV-Glotzer (White Punks On Dope)
  12. Superboy
  13. African Reggae
  14. Wir Leben Immer Noch (Lucky Number)

I almost plotzed when this CD came down the pike in 1991. I had more than a passing familiarity with Nina Hagen, and owned a couple of her albums. I always wanted her first two Nina Hagen Band albums, but I did have the US 10″ EP that plucked two tracks off of each. That EP has been appended to this CD as bonus material, but we’ll concern ourselves with the main event today. I did not have “Nunsexmonkrock,” prior to this CD being issued, but I still had vivid memories of all of the reviews of it that I had ever read. That US Columbia Records would see fit to issue this… amazing… album ever, was almost beyond comprehension.

Beyond comprehension is the operative thought here. Those two German-language rock albums by the Nina Hagen Band were good fun, but they in no way prepared the listener for what would confront them on “Nunsexmonkrock.” Right from the very beginning, the opening strains of “Antiworld” get right to the heart of the matter as they outline Jesus encountering a demonically possessed man who then exorcises him. Then the track begins to get really out there. Ironically, with the cream of studio session talent playing the music that backs up Hagen. Names like Allan Schwartzburg, Chris Spedding, and Paul Sheaffer just before his linkup with David Letterman.

That Mike Thorne was recruited to oversee this deepspace excursion of the mind and soul of Nina Hagen was probably a good thing. I can only imagine what the sessions were like for this album. The backing tracks sound like almost any music from the era. New Wave rock with a bent that travels from commercial to somewhat obscure, as on “Dr. Art.” But once they unleashed Nina Hagen to vocalize on these tracks all bets were off. The results resembled an acid-drenched dark psychedelia as if the skull of Hagen had its top cut off; revealing the coiled, writhing brainthings within.

The songs encompass religious/UFO/political/personal visions as refracted through funhouse mirrors with Ms. Hagen often utilizing five or six contrasting vocal lines simultaneously in each song. With her penchant for vocal characterization, some of these voices are shrill and others are guttural. Lines were blurred between masculinity and femininity and it’s not for nothing that her follow up album to this one was called “Fearless.” This is, quite simply, one batsh*t crazy album! Sorry to descend to the vernacular, but there’s no better way to put it.

And for that, it’s undeniably thrilling to hear a performer who combines an utter lack of fear with a voice capable of almost any human expression… as well as a few other species thrown in for good measure. If there was ever an album that was untouched by concerns of commerce, then this was definitely it. Of course, there are limits to what the human mind can withstand in one sitting, and around the middle of “side two” the focus began to flag with “Iki Maska” sounding belabored near the end of its 5:09 length in spite of the sturdy “Peter Gunn” riff copped by Chris Spedding that anchors the tune. The following “Dr. Art” might be the point where the wheels came completely off the bus; it’s hard to tell. But the ode to her newly born daughter, “Cosma Shiva” tightens things up for the albums end. What tales Cosma Shiva Hagen could probably tell might turn our hair white were it not already halfway there. And if it wasn’t, try listening to this in a dark room with headphones on.

– 30 –

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4 Responses to Nina Hagen: Nunsexmonkrock/Nina Hagen Band

  1. Charlie M. says:

    For me, Nina Hagen Band and Unbehagen were her best albums. In my opinion, by trying to express her beliefs in her music, the music took a back seat. In my opinion, Nunsexmonkrock was the first step down, then Fearless, then Nina Hagen in Ecstasy. At that point, I more or less gave up on her.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Charlie M – That was bad timing on your part. Her next three albums were completely “secular” and sported fantastic production by the likes of Zeus B. Held and Phil Manzanera. You should try them. They are a far cry from the peak acid experience of “Nunsexmonkrock.” Though I do love that album for the writhing brain of Nina Hagen under the magnifying glass, I admit that it’s not for everyone.


  2. KC Casey says:

    I like that Nina always tried something different on each album – punk, acid rock, disco, new wave, house …. every fan will have their favorites and criticize the rest. I love Fearless (her collaboration with Giorigio Moroder), but I think everyone would agree that Nunsexmunkrock is her calling card LP. It’s a crazy, brilliant, singular work of art.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      KC Casey – Welcome to the comments! No argument with the undiluted essence of Nina that manifested on “ Nunsexmonkrock!” Her “Madonna and child” cover photo for it also made a bold statement even bolder.


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