Static Age


Icy, synth-saturated German post-punk in the tradition of MALARIA! or XMAL DEUTSCHLAND—expect severe rhythms driven by cavernous bass and tom-heavy drumming with only the most minimal presence of cymbals, coolly distant vocals that maintain a palpable edge of drama, and sparse, needling guitar applied with exacting precision. The level of restraint exercised in the more slowly snaking tracks on II (“Bilderflut” and “1000 Umdrehungen” in particular) is genuinely haunting and unnerving in a way that legions of chorus-pedal-dependent modern dark-punk groups have aspired to but never fully achieved, with AUS stripping their sound to such an elemental framework that the subtraction of anything else would cause the songs to just crumble into dust. Top notch!

Aus Der Sch​ö​ne Schein EP

A new three-song EP from these Berlin-based creatures of the night who have been keeping the shadow-dimmed flames of XMAL DEUTSCHLAND and MALARIA! burning into the third millennium—their stern, goth-adjacent post-punk has all of the coldness and severity of a concrete Eastern Bloc factory floor. Opener “Der Sch​ö​ne Schein” plunges headlong into an abyss of tom-pounded drums, sinister bass rumble, and a tension only heightened by the sharp clips of air raid siren guitar that soon join in, before slipping into borderline funky death-disco choruses without ever breaking their stone-faced (and likely heavily black-eyelinered) facade. Likewise, the swirls of keys shrouding “Zugvögel” could have just as easily been pulled from a campy ’60s horror flick as early ’80s leather-and-lace deathrock, while its strict rhythms and austere German vocals are nothing but deadly serious, and “LSD” percolates along a pendulum-swinging cyclical bass line and an unwavering, bone-rattling beat for nearly three minutes before the vocals finally cut in like echoes in a claustrophobic crypt. Pitch-black perfection.

Beton Combo Perfektion Ist Sache Der Götter LP reissue

A recent reissue of anthemic political punk from 1981 by this West Berlin group. I enjoy the sense of urgency across the album, as if they’re against the wall at Checkpoint Charlie, raging against a line of rifle barrels. A solid archival release, if you’re a fan of Cold War EU punk or anarcho anything.

Campingsex 1914! LP reissue

Reissue of the 1985 full-length from this German no wave crew—Thurston Moore is apparently a big fan, even claiming that SONIC YOUTH was inspired by CAMPINGSEX, but the admiration was almost certainly mutual; 1914! came out two years after Confusion is Sex (which might as well be the lost-in-translation origin of CAMPINGSEX’s bizarre band name), and it’s a similarly harrowing trip through a shaking hell. Industrial terror-clang rhythms nicked from EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN and filthy BIRTHDAY PARTY-descended bass grind beneath stern, ranting vocals that frequently lapse into distressed primal screams, channeling the bombed-out urban decay and no-future nihilism of Cold War-era Berlin into a series of eight howling, pitch-black post-punk dirges. But much like with mid-’80s SONIC YOUTH, there’s some gnarled moments of melody to be found lurking within CAMPINGSEX’s fucked-up feedback sprawls—the male/female trade-off backing shouts intersecting with Max Müller’s raw, unraveling vocals in “Schließ Die Tür,” or the almost sing-song break toward the end of “Liebe” where the guitar squall briefly drops out, or the Peter Hook-styled bass run that launches the droning bile-spew of “Guten Morgen.” Brutal and brutalist.

Desintegración Violenta La Bestia EP

This joint release between Static Shock, Unlawful Assembly, and Roachleg Records finds DESINTEGRACIÓN VIOLENTA playing their hallmark thrash-addled hardcore punk on five tracks. With riffs set to overdrive, a primal rhythm section, and snarling, blown-beyond-belief vocals, it’s hard not to love everything DESINTEGRACIÓN VIOLENTA is doing on this recording. If you like your punk extra noisy, speedy as fuck, and a touch demented, then you’ll definitely want to give this a spin.

Die Atlantikschwimmer Kassetto Fix LP

Vinyl reissue of the 1983 demo cassette from the relatively unheralded Neue Deutsch Welle trio DIE ATLANTIKSCHWIMMER, who recorded an LP the following year for the Zickzack label (responsible for backing releases from German noisemakers ranging from EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN to ABWÄRTS to XMAL DEUTSCHLAND in the ’80s) before ultimately disbanding. That LP was essentially a Bavarian take on the bleak, monochromatic post-JOY DIVISION post-punk approach that was having a mid-’80s heyday among UK groups like the CHAMELEONS and the SOUND, and while that direction isn’t completely lost on the demo, there’s also a spiky, agitprop danceability that points to an affinity for GANG OF FOUR and any number of early Rough Trade singles, especially in the dryly shouted vocals and snap-tight rhythms of “Warten” and “Abendvorstellung.” Even the more characteristically gloomy new wave moments here are given a spark from roughed-up demo presentation, which honestly elevates Kassetto Fix above the band’s solid subsequent full-length. Yet another choice Static Age-guided dig through Euro post-punk history, get in on it.

Die Atlantikschwimmer Die Atlantikschwimmer 12″ reissue

After their waxing of DIE ATLANTIKSCHWIMMER’s debut cassette, Static Age reissues the German group’s self-titled follow-up. Originally coming out in 1985 on the legendary Zickzack label, this Atlantic swimmer is even more streamlined than its predecessor. The water this combo wades in resists being roiled, hanging out instead in the placid end of the pool. You’ll find no lack of ponderous bass tones and thudding drum machines, occasionally spiced with pre-modern instruments like accordion. There is an intriguing frozen quality to DIE ATLANTIKSCHWIMMER’s impeccably produced songs; they flirt with pop structures but ultimately remain at a distance from mainstream aesthetics. Call it “Factory on the Rhine.” “Komm Mit Mir” repurposes a song from the debut and imparts the feeling of drifting along a canal as centuries-old buildings loom in the background. There is something undeniably romantic and—forgive this ugly American—European about DIE ATLANTIKSCHWIMMER; yet, the album doesn’t quite satisfy whatever foolish notions this listener harbors about a lost weekend in a far-off city. All deserted streets and darting shadows, the whispered, seductive menace of “Film Mit Überlänge” is closer to my idea of a good time in an unfamiliar locale. Keep the carriage ride, gimme the foot chase.

Die Letzten Ecken Die Letzten Ecken 12″

Stark, minimal electro-punk from present-day Berlin, where the calendar might as well read 1981 judging from the recent crop of Neue Deutsche Welle-inspired projects coming out of the city’s Allee Der Kosmonauten DIY collective (see also: AUS and DIE SCHIEFE BAHN). The six tracks on this debut 12″ are translated though little more than buzzing synth, clattering percussion (electronic and not), and dryly-intoned vocals, with DIE LETZTEN ECKEN’s restrained and mechanically-driven rhythmic pulse fitting right into a long line of German/Swiss synth-wave going back to the late ’70s and early ’80s—GRAUZONE, D.A.F., MITTAGEISEN, XMAL DEUTSCHLAND, the list goes on. With their stern, driving beats and harsh synth throb, “Vakuum” and “Die Zahlen” are perfect steel-cold dance club bangers for the crowd that barely passed the Voight-Kampff test, while “I C H” and “Zauberworte” spiral into a warmer but still otherworldly hypnotic drone; the new kosmische musik for our modern tech-addled hellworld.

Gesture II cassette

Berlin quartet GESTURE’s first tape, from eighteen months or so ago, was a more-than-nice example of contemporary death rock, slinky and zippy in equal measure. Its successor, again a six-song affair, ups the mean tempo and borders hardcore stylistically, “Wants In Cells” leaning into this in particular. Opening number “Retreat” has those military-drill stern anarcho drums but an untethered, lurching feel; “Breeding Ground” peaces out before the one-minute mark but fees like it could have developed. Eva Sanglante remains a finely frosty frontperson and, while it appears that GESTURE are now an ex-band (we hardly knew ye!), her latest project MERGING sounds pretty swish on the basis of one comp tape song, if you like gloomy punked-up EBM at least.

Glueams Mental EP reissue

One of the holy grails of the femme-punk underground gets a much-deserved reissue! “Mental” has found its way onto multiple compilations focused on either late-’70s/early-’80s punk in Switzerland or female-fronted punk and post-punk in general from the same era—rightfully so, because it’s a bona fide classic, with Dorette Schmidt’s desperately shouted sore throat vocals, a naggingly repetitive guitar line, and the same sort of raw, tumbling drums that have marked any number of primitive KBD hyper-obscurities, but GLUEAMS’ integration of those fairly standard elements just sounds so perfect and effortlessly cool. “365” has more of a straightforward ’77 punky energy (are those handclaps?!), and in addition to both of those tracks from the original 1979 version of the single, this reissue also includes the previously unreleased and comparatively sparse studio cut “Arsen,” which positions GLUEAMS as a slightly more aggressive counterpart to fellow Swiss national treasures KLEENEX. To top it off, the whole thing comes packaged in a beautiful foldout sleeve with an eight-page booklet of interviews, photos, and a thorough written history of the band, so buy it now or regret it later.

Nasti Life is Nasti LP

Another hardcore banger coming from two labels that always deliver the best in punk. Washington’s NASTI is able to play hardcore without overusing the genre’s tropes. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s stompy, sometimes it’s weird as hell, but it all flows perfectly through each song just at the right time. Life is Nasti has eight powerful tracks of rage-filled moshpit bangers, a LP that could be on the shelf right next to contemporary hardcore like GAG or HOAX but certainly pays homage to VOID, UNITED MUTATION, and NO TREND alike. Their territory is somewhere in between the chaos and the weirdness, a bleak vision of modern life. Life is fucking NASTI!

Pitva Pitva LP

PITVA is a modern take on classic Eastern Bloc punk, with the rage and heft of hardcore intersecting with the terror textures of anarcho and goth. The guitar is icy, brittle, less interested in blocky riffs than feedback-drenched howling, sounding like an air raid siren, or a lost S.O.S. signal in the airwaves. While the guitar slices at the high-end frequencies, the bass drives low and hard, carrying the weight of song structure, while the drums punch out a martial 1-2-1-2 attack. The album production is bleak and echoing, like it was recorded in a dank cave or (more appropriately) an old abandoned squat, reinforced by rubble and barbed wire.

Psico Galera Le Stanze Della Mente LP

The eerie riff in the beginning of this record sets the mood instantly. You’re in for a journey into the darkest corners of the mind. With members of FUCKED UP, CAREER SUICIDE, EU’S ARSE, and NINOS DU BRASIL, these seasoned musicians craft something new and exciting but rooted in the ’80s hardcore sound. There is obvious channeling of Italian hardcore like WRETCHED and NERORGASMO but through the mind of BITOUSHA and G-ZET. This unsettling album further proves that the Italian hardcore tradition is alive and well.

Sperma Sperma 12″ reissue

An archival release of Swiss punks SPERMA’s 1979 12″ EP, this record features three tracks of charmingly inept first-wave clamor. Slightly out-of-tune, off-beat, and recorded with traditional production values that don’t do the tunes any favors, this is a pretty good example of the kind of homegrown punk that was sprouting up all over the place at the time. These kids might have been listening to the BUZZCOCKS or some SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS, even. They weren’t the greatest at English but appear to have had a firm grasp on the F-word, which is important (see “No More Love”). This one has its charm, but it’s probably best suited for collectors who have to have all the ’70s punk.

The Walking Korpses All Safe and Dead LP

Proving that modern-day Berlin isn’t just a bolthole destination for ketamine-hoofing 27-year-old ravers, the current incarnation of that city’s WALKING KORPSES kicks out glowering goth sludge with a lineup predominantly assembled from what we still call expats but are, I suppose, more properly known as immigrants. Some interesting characters too, including two fellas from SPK splinter group LAST DOMINION LOST; two of post-punk rippers DIÄT (one of whom also released this LP on his label); and singer Jason Honea, who took over vocal duties for SOCIAL UNREST in the mid-’80s and has done the same for WALKING KORPSES after a journey that’s taken him a long way from East Bay skatecore. All Safe and Dead rocks for sure, often relatively conventionally, yet always with a but—awkward, lumbering and clashing, even when a joint like “Autumn Light” bears heavy hallmarks of big coat UK post-punk. Honea’s yelp is closer to BIRTHDAY PARTY-era Nick Cave, with the strep throat of UNSANE’s Charlie Spencer lurking in the mix. Shades/shards of LAUGHING HYENAS, later CLOCKCLEANER and offensively underrated Scottish group VOM can be detected in these seven songs, with a transcendent expansiveness at times (notably final song “Healthy Teeth”) which you could call psychedelic, if psych was less about staring blissfully at the sun than screaming into fog while holding a broken wine bottle.

Urin Afekt EP

From Berlin, but with members from all over the place (just like Berlin itself, right?), URIN is back with a killer EP. They “upgraded” their sound a bit from the previous Incydent EP, adding layers of noise and chaos to the already frantic D-beat madness that they do so well. Their sound is unique and they were able to find their space sonically, as they sound unlike any other bands that come to mind. Maybe the best way to describe it is a modern version of GAI, but it still is not enough to get the whole picture, so just click play.

Yfory Chwaer Pwy? EP

The four members of YFORY converged in Berlin from disparate corners of the world (and from a veritable A-list of hot-shot contemporary punk groups like GOOD THROB, DIÄT, BARCELONA, etc. etc.), with various ’78–’83 Rough Trade singles and the collective works of DATBLYGU serving as the lingua franca for their debut EP. Bryony’s vocals (delivered primarily in Welsh, with occasional lapses into English) skip from KLEENEX’d trills and shrieks to deadpan talky monologues, guitar parts are economical and almost more jangly than jabbing, and the drums and bass wind around in calculated, unhurried concentric circle rhythms—the result is a quartet of smart, spiky post-punk/whiplash pop bops right in step with post-millennial heirs to the ELASTICA throne like PRIMETIME or CHILD’S POSE, and it’s a real delight.