“Record” Review: Propaganda – Duel Y2K Mix DL

propaganda (c) 2001 gilbert blecken

Propaganda reborn with Michael Mertens and Claudia Brücken © 2001 Gilbert Blecken

Twenty years ago the early web was buzzing with the news that the real Propaganda were back together and recording a new album. We could put the false Propaganda who had made the dull, lifeless “1234” album in 1990 on the burning pyre of history best forgotten. Against all odds, relations were patched up between Michael Mertens, Susanne Freytag, and Claudia Brücken and a new album was underway. The website was at propahanga.de and it featured a tiny web video of a cinematic looking video clip for the song “No Return” as made by one “Keyser Soze,” a 90s reference if ever there were one.

Naturally, I signed up to the mailing list and one day got the email saying that a new version of the great single “Duel” was available for download with the password that was emailed to each person who had signed up. So we downloaded the oh so moderne “Duel [Y2K Mix]” in all of its 128 kbps, MP3 glory. Twenty years later, it remained the only official release of any music from that ill-starred reunion, and today we revisit it for a listen.

Right from the start it was a whole new “Duel.” Dubby loops of Claudia saying “eye to eye” with a fat Eurohouse beat underneath with four-to-the-floor. Hints of acid house on the synths that replaced the synthetic horns of the original. Raveloops recirculated endlessly as Ms. Brücken crooned on top of it all. After 15 years in the business, her vocal was decidedly smoother than the 1st version.

As this was undoubtedly the product of loops in a DAW, the energy here was all neat and tidy and completely quantized. There were subtle filips that stepped outside of the rave-lite environment of the track. The occasional deeptwang guitar sample; sounding like a lift from Badalamenti’s “Twin Peaks” work made a brief appearance a few times. Elsewhere, some of the song’s reliable traits were still evident, like the borderline ludicrous  piano glissando still here. After which the beat dropped out to leave the shimmering synths for a couple of bars.

But it always got back to business. returning to a four-on-the-floor, workmanlike chug;  with a scant string patch in the fadeout to pull the listener thorough the repetitive stasis the beat engendered. For all the world, this seemed like less the product of Michael Mertens of Propaganda than it seemed to be a late 90s remix of the track, as we understood the term by that point in time. By some modern DJ. It definitely took second place to the creamy perfection of the original but certainly didn’t overstay its welcome at a polite 4:23.

Tellingly, Ralf Dorper was not involved as he was back to working with Die Krupps as he had been following the dissolution of Propaganda, so none of the high drama he brought to the table was to be found here. This was a somewhat perfunctory revisit of an old classic wearing the fashions of the day; perhaps even a few years out of date, with some pride. We’re glad we have this, but it remains a curio from the unreleased third Propaganda era that never even got off the starting blocks, save for this track.

Click here to sample

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About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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15 Responses to “Record” Review: Propaganda – Duel Y2K Mix DL

  1. Graham says:

    Good god this is *awful* 😳


    • Graham Brown says:

      I wouldn’t normally write hyperbolically, but the originals are so perfect and this is such a blunt and numb interpretation. No piano reverb, nothing whatsoever of the original that made it a beautiful song.

      But I’m glad you wrote about Propaganda again, such a fantastic band. Saw them at the Highbury Garage concerts in 2018 (?17)


      • postpunkmonk says:

        Graham Brown – Sometimes, one needs to write hyperbolically. I’ve been known to dip into the bucket every now and then. As a big fan of Claudia Brücken, the fact that the third Propaganda album never happened was just one more reason to like her. Her quality control is very high.


      • Echorich says:

        I can only second that emotion Graham! It is a pale, thin dancefloor filler of a remix of one of the great songs of the 80s…no, one of the great songs of all time.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Graham – Oh, I’ve heard far worse! Like I said, it sounded less like Propaganda and more like some DJ “remixing” the cut. It sounded dated for 2000, and perhaps it was the clearest vision of why the album they were recording then was ultimately tabled. I’ve actually heard the leaked album and two of the songs got used for the OneTwo project, though they were the weaker cuts there, in my opinion. I was happy after hearing the leaked album that it had been shevled; a wise decision.


      • Graham Brown says:

        Yeah, sometimes it’s best to just leave memories as they were. Some bands burn brightly and snuff out – you have to cherish them for what they were…

        Funnily enough, yesterday I went into the office to pick up all my stuff after 8 months working at home, and waiting for me was this little promo beauty – had forgotten I had ordered it:

        It wasn’t considered to be the band’s best era/moment by any means, but it beats the hell out of this abomination!

        Great idea for an occasional series :)


        • postpunkmonk says:

          Graham Brown – Wait… you are presumably in the UK. You are going back to the office now, after 8 months? I thought the UK was just entering lockdown again for wave two?

          As for “Get Down Tonight,” I had issues with “Go Bang’s” production but I found that cover version rather amusing, though I have not yet spun my 12″ single of it. [looks @Discogs link] Hmmm! An instrumental mix on the promo? [adds disc to endless want list…]


          • Graham Brown says:

            Back to the office to pick up all my stuff! Never going back, moving to another part of the country – more space, lower pace of life…

            Also means I can set up a music room and get my vinyl out! Still
            Working for the same company, we’ve decided everybody can still work remotely.

            Once I get set up I’ll send you a rip of the disc. Love the smiley label!


            • postpunkmonk says:

              Graham Brown – Well, that’s more like it! I worked remotely for two glorious months but the owner hated not having us under his thumb, so as soon as my county went out of strict lockdown [I work in the next county] I was called back into the office. The organ grinder likes his monkeys on a short leash! Don’t worry about sending me a rip of the instrumental track. That’s not my style.


  2. Echorich says:

    Monk, you are awfully kind to this awful remix of one great track!


  3. Bif Bam says:

    For those interested, I do have the b**tleg 1998 “Untitled Unreleased Album” in 160kb mp3
    Artist: Propaganda
    Release: Untitled Unreleased Album
    Year: 1998
    Type: Album
    Format: CD
    Category: Bootleg
    Time: 41:06
    Styles: Pop
    NRRID: 0010

    01. Cloud 9 [04:24]
    02. Ignorance [04:46]
    03. Who’s the Fool [04:14]
    04. Beast Within [04:59]
    05. No Return [05:16]
    06. To the Future [04:45]
    07. Turn to the Sun [03:03]
    08. Dream Within a Dream [06:05]
    09. Anonymous [03:34]

    The best description I could give for the thing as a whole is a middling Brücken album – far more glisten-y — and less moto-driven — than any Propaganda (real or fake) fare previously passed under that name. Not that a middling Claudia Brücken album is to be sneezed at, but for anyone EXPECTING proper Propaganda it’s certainly a disappointment.

    It’s just 48 megs total, so if anyone wants it I’d be willing to slap it up on 1fichier or similar.


  4. Christopher Merritt says:

    Yeesh – I could only handle about 30 seconds of that.


  5. Michael says:

    “We could put the false Propaganda who had made the dull, lifeless “1234” album in 1990 on the burning pyre of history best forgotten.”

    NO! What nonsense! As a matter of fact, “1234” IS Propaganda, and it is a great album, one of my favourite albums. Different, but awesome.

    No more hate speech against this wonderful album, please.



    • postpunkmonk says:

      Michael – Welcome to the comments! The three areas where “1234” failed for me were firstly, in having Howard Jones co-write material. I’m really not a fan of Mr. Jones. Michael Mertens’ girlfriend Betsi Miller was a colorless singer following the striking Claudia Brücken. The final fail was in getting Simple Minds godlike original rhythm section and it not mattering. Even the Neville Brody artwork was a fail for the normally exceptional Brody. I think there’s maybe a 12″ single worth of material that was recognizable as Propaganda hiding in the album.


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