Einstürzende Neubauten, the German industrial music pioneers, will be the subject of my next discography deep dive. I've included two photos because they've undergone quite the metamorphosis from their shocking performances in the 80s to their current 21st century sounds.
Caveat emptor: Their early music is tough to adjust to. There is a high bar of entry with this band given the lyrics being (mostly) in German, the harshness of the early albums, etc. BUT! Anyone that follows along will be duly rewarded seeing the innovators they were in music.
Yes, this is off the beaten path, but I cannot stress enough how influential these guys were on a lot of heavier, noisier music. Their trajectory is fascinating both musically and historically. Hopefully a few of you brave souls will be turned on to a new (to you) band.
My last "warm up" tweet before diving into their material: Their discography on Spotify is all in the wrong order and contains many special/expanded editions, so I'm going to make notations with each album of what the original tracklist was so you can listen to what they intended

Right out of the gate, you should know that their name is typically translated as "Collapsing New Buildings." That should give you some idea of the sound here. Their goal was to completely destroy the concept of how music is made.
This is literally industrial music: percussion is on sheet metal, shopping carts, pipes. There are drills, power saws, etc. There are homemade instruments. There's a little bit of guitar, but not the kind of guitar you're used to by any stretch of the imagination.
Keep in mind this is 1981 in West Berlin. The cold war is in full swing and this is a city literally cut in half by a wall. This is the Berlin of Bowie's Low, Heroes, and Lodger. It's the Berlin of Iggy Pop's The Idiot and Lust for Life. But this is what the locals were up to.
Opener "Tanz Debil" sets the stage for what your in for more or less: nervous energy, howling screams, percussion of indeterminate origin, guitars that screech and howl. "Steh auf Berlin" explodes with power tools grinding away before giving away to beats on metal objects.
As many reviewers before me have stated, this is one of the few albums intended to shock that still sounds shocking decades after its release. This isn't one I listen to frequently, but even among all the pounding and scraping and howling, the music is in there. Fascinating stuff
So, if you plan on listening along, Kollaps, in its original form ended at track 13, "Helga." There's another 10-11 tracks from that period to explore if you want, but that's where the original album ended IIRC.
If you've never listened to or even heard of EN before you might be thinking you've seen that logo on the album cover somewhere before, you have: Henry Rollins has a tattoo of it.
Zeichnungen des Patienten O.T.

Two years removed from their debut, EN has solidified their lineup: Blixa Bargeld on vocals & guitar, Mark Chung on bass, N.U. Unruh, F.M. Einheit, and Alexander Hacke playing percussion and other miscellany.
Though still far from a Top 40 song, opener “Vanadium-I-Ching” is more accessible than the songs from Kollaps. There’s percussion that sounds like a handful of wrenches being dropped, but the vocals are more sung than howled and it feels more like a song than pure chaos.
Even on noisier songs like “Abfackeln!” that feature Bargeld’s signature screams and power tools, there’s a bassline. You can hear guitars doing guitar things.

They introduce sampling: taped phone calls, field recordings, etc. to add more texture/expand their sonic range.
“Armenia” features sampling of the duduk, a gorgeous, haunting and often melancholic Armenian folk instrument. The song would go on to be used in the films HEAT and THE INSIDER

I feel like this album reveals a lot of techniques later employed by post-rock bands.
If you’re listening along on Spotify, the original album only runs through track twelve, “Die Genaue Zeit.”

Pitchfork ranked this as the second best industrial album of all time if you want to go read their take on it. https://pitchfork.com/features/lists-and-guides/the-33-best-industrial-albums-of-all-time/?page=3
One other interesting thing has happened in Berlin since the release of Kollaps that would have a significant impact on EN as well as the music world at large: The Birthday Party has relocated to Berlin and a friendship has blossomed between Blixa Bargeld and Nick Cave.
The musical friendship was instantaneous and Bargeld featured on the the last EPs by The Birthday Party in 1983. Cave and bandmate Rowland S. Howard were at odds and barely speaking and Bargeld was credited with saving the sessions and getting the ball rolling on completion.
Bargeld worked on both this EN album and the Birthday Party’s Mutiny! in August of 1983. A particularly fruitful month for Blixa.
Halber Mensch

The album opens with the title track and it sounds like haunted choral music. After two albums of pretty intense boundary pushing sounds, we see them leaning more into identifiably rock sounds on a song like “Yü-gung - Fütter Mein Ego”
The sound of that sound is still unconventional, but it’s got a catchy beat and a bassline that’ll firmly plant itself in your head.” On tunes like that and “Z.N.S” it’s not hard to see how some the later industrial bands incorporated these sounds into a more commercial framework
The back half of the album is definitely harsher, but overall, this is the last of their albums that I’d consider a really challenging listen. If you’ve made it this far it gets more tonal and approachable tomorrow! The original album is only the first eight tracks.
If you push on into the bonus tracks there’s a cover of Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra’s “Sand” that is unexpected to say the least.

Also, at this point, Blixa Bargeld is also a member of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds so I think you start to see their influence on each other’s band.
Their early shows were the stuff of legend. Norman Westberg told me he was at their first ever NYC show and that they pushed a flaming dumpster off the stage. The early 80s underground were apparently pretty unhinged. Like this kind of stuff:
Fünf auf der nach oben offenen Richterskala

Gonna skip to the surprise inclusion: an English language version of “Morning Dew” that is absolutely the most straight ahead song they’ve committed to tape as of yet. Don’t expect the Dead version though.
“Ich bin’s” shows them beginning to use the studio as an instrument with treated and processed vocals. The metallic percussion is more resonant and bell like than cacophonous.

“Zwölfe staedte” is ominous, but still subdued. Compared to previous albums, this is at a whisper.
Easily the most subtle work they’ve released yet. If you’re listening along on Spotify, they have it listed under its English title, “Five on the Open-Ended Richter Scale.”
Haus der Lüge

Five albums in and EN is really starting to settle down. Opening track "Prolog" is basically a spoken word piece with some glitchy noise interludes. "Feurio!" basically finds them kind of treading the waters of the dancefloor.
Title track "Haus der Lüge" is the first thing they've written that I'd describe as a "single" or a "hit." Definitely the earliest thing that's still frequently played at their live shows. This is accessible. If you listen to NIN, you can handle this.
"Fiat Lux" is basically an ambient soundscape. It includes field recordings from the May Day 1987 protests in Kreuzberg, Berlin. This is music of a time and place and I can't imagine many spots in the western world hotter than Berlin in the late 80s.
The extended version of this album that's on Spotify contains some remixes that you dance/pop types can probably get into.

Re: the album cover. Kind of intense, but interestingly enough, based on a 16th century woodblock print by Hans Baldung. Renaissance art for modern times!
This is how they closed the 80s out. It'd be four more years until their next album and they'd undergo a pretty significant shift with 1993's Tabula Rasa...it's even right there in the name.
Tabula Rasa

Four years since the last record and quite a few changes. Generally softer sounds, guest vocalists, (some) singing in French!

First of all, if you’re listening along on Spotify, the original record is only the first eight tracks.
The album opens with “Die Interimsliebenden” or “The Interim Lovers” in English. It’s an absolute banger that’s still frequently performed live. There’s also a much shorter English version in the bonus material. They’re pretty accessible now.
That more accessible sound caused a divide among many fans. Many yearned for the harsher more experimental days while others (and usually newer fans) liked the innovative, but accessible vibes of the newer material. This is also the last album featuring bassist Mark Chung.
Track 3, “Blume,” finds Blixa Bargeld singing a duet with Anita Lane. Bargeld & Lane’s last collaboration was 1986’s “Stranger Than Kindness,” that appeared on Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ Your Funeral...My Trial album. She also wrote the lyrics to Cave’s “From Her to Eternity.”
All of that going to say if you see Anita Lane’s name show up on some shit...pay attention, it’s probably gonna be awesome. “Blume” is similarly great. The original is in French, but the bonus material includes separate versions in English and Japanese.
The album closes out with a three part 15+ minute suite called “Headcleaner” that shows EN still has plenty of fire left in them despite an overall more approachable sound.

I’m in the group that welcomes the new EN. I listen to the back half of their catalog way more often.
Ende Neu

You're now at the promised land of songs that sound like songs and have melodies and choruses and all the stuff that time has taught you to love about music. Took us six albums, but if you're only going to listen to one, let this be it.
Around this time EN, started crowdfunding albums way before the days of patreon, gofundme, etc. They set up a "Supporters" group section of their website in 2002 that got you exclusive releases, views into the studio, chat sessions with band members, etc.
Not only did it gain you access to exclusive content, but if you were a Supporter and you could get to Berlin, you could often be a *a part* of the content, as seen here on the song "Was Ist Ist" that kicks off Ende Neu. (This is not the studio version.)
"Die Explosion Im Festspiehaus" is a slow burner with some creative sounds. In the past, they banged on shopping carts, used jackhammers, etc. At the 1:22 mark you hear a solo for pencil on paper. You also hear mic'd metal rings rotating to great effect:
Another standout track is "NNNAAAMMM," which stands for New No New Age Advanced Ambient Motor Music Machine. The lengthy title is chanted like a mantra over a throbbing beat and hand claps and other noises for the better part of 10 minutes. It rules hard.
No one was expecting an album this melodic, with a string section and much more conventional sounds. They'd mastered the domain of noise and chaos and now they're showing an ability to reinvent and excel in a melodic, but still inventive environment.
Pitchfork kind of took a dump on it giving it a 4.6 and the review has since been deleted from their site. You can see it on the Wayback Machine here though.

This is the album that got me into these guys. I didn't personally find it until around 2000 or so, but I'm glad I did and have spent the last 20 years exploring this even morphing beast of a band.
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