Rosa Beton Demo 83 cassette
In 1983, two East Berlin teens with a four-track recorded a clandestine punk demo in one of their bedrooms, dubbing their illicit project ROSA BETON (“pink concrete”). The duo was never able to perform live in the Stasi-controlled GDR where punks were systematically surveilled and targeted as threats to the state, and the cassette was likewise never openly distributed, but copies were still passed along to friends in secret, single-handedly preserving ROSA BETON’s mythology over time. Just as their chosen name subverted the reality of East Berlin’s brutalist urban landscape (monochromatic concrete exteriors, unrelenting angles, function over form) by introducing a pop of color, the pair’s musical approach took a similar turn—stripped-down and austere, with some sly art influences behind the stark facade. “Stehen Bleiben is Verrat” flirts with sharp, stitled rhythms in an early EX/RONDOS-like fashion, “Scheißstadt Berlin” and “16 Jahre im Exil” could pass for degraded third-generation dubs of Pink Flag-era WIRE demos (complete with dry two-part harmonies), and “Wir Glauben” scratches and collapses for 90 blown-out seconds as well as anything in the SWELL MAPS/Messthetics pantheon. So cool that this exists. Interestingly, the B-side of this reissue is actually 2022 re-recordings of the full 1983 demo (minus one track) by original guitarist/vocalist Thomas Wagner and three new bandmates, completely transforming the songs from primitivist teenage DIY clamor to hi-def, synth-battered electro-punk with tandem-shouted male/female vocals—think LOST SOUNDS with a Neue Deutsche Welle twist.