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Grauzone: S/T 12" (40 Years Anniversary)

Grauzone: S/T 12" (40 Years Anniversary)


Tags: · 80s · germany · post-punk · techno
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$32.00

Double LP version. Heavy 350gsm sleeve. WRWTFWW Records reissue Swiss cult band Grauzone's self-titled album in an expanded "40 Years Anniversary Edition" packed with the original 1981 album plus nine extra songs, as well as extensive liner notes by Swiss music historian Lurker Grand. The pioneering band from Bern (Switzerland) had a short-lived but highly-regarded career which birthed a cult discography that still fascinates and resonates today. Consisting of core members Martin Eicher, Stephan Eicher, and Marco Repetto, and on-and-off participants Christian GT Trüssel, Claudine Chirac, and Ingrid Berney, the elusive group broke new grounds in the early '80s, experimenting with punk and industrial music, early techno sounds, minimalism, new wave, pop, and various electronics. With an innovative and polished approach to design, visuals, performance, and all-around style and philosophy on top of their superb music, the constantly transforming unit developed a whole experience -- the Grauzone experience: wild and unpredictable, yet sophisticated and cohesive, or as Swiss music historian Lurker Grand would call it, "an Art band with a Punk attitude." Completely rejecting the music industry rules and refusing to play the game of promotion, touring, release schedules, and TV appearances even though they had a multi-platinum international hit with the song "Eisbär", the band quickly disintegrated in full convention-defying glory, leaving behind an inspiring music legacy for the world to discover and discover again, one generation after the other. This extended version of their debut (and only) album beautifully crystallizes the Grauzone miracle/accident -- where pop and youthful experimentation meet at (new/cold/no) wave and industrial crossroads, and where classic hits ("Eisbär", "FILM 2", "Raum", "Träume Mit Mir", "Der Weg Zu Zweit") flawlessly mesh with unconventional deep cuts ("In Der Nacht", "Film 1", "Maikäfer Flieg"). Very simply put: good timeless music with an edge. Stephan Eicher went on to be, arguably, the most successful Swiss musician ever, with an international career extending from pop chanson to experimental escapades and collaborations with Moondog, artists Sophie Calle and Sylvie Fleury, and author Martin Suter among many other luminaries. Marco Repetto flourished as a techno and ambient producer, releasing multiple projects including releases on Aphex Twin's Rephlex label. Sourced from the original reels and put together under the supervision of band member Stephan Eicher.

Our take: This double LP compiles all the studio recordings by this Swiss post-punk band, including their lone album from 1980 and their three singles, including the all-time post-punk / minimal wave banger Eisbær (see my description from a couple years ago for more info on that). Grauzone grew out of the Swiss punk band Glueams (whose reissue we named Record of the Week a while back), but left behind punk for forward-thinking art rock, a trajectory not unlike Wire’s. Like Wire, Grauzone took punk’s intensity and melded it with art rock’s progressivism and the mechanical rhythms of Kraftwerk, arriving at a sound that is cold and industrial on one hand, but dense, complex, and intellectually gratifying on the other. I don’t know this for certain, but it sounds like punk inspired these folks to play music, but once they got the instruments in their hands, they realized they like the b-side of David Bowie’s Low more than they liked the Sex Pistols or the Clash. If you like the basic touchstones of post-punk—Joy Division’s Closer, Wire’s Chairs Missing, PiL’s Metal Box, Siouxsie & the Banshees’ Join Hands—it’s hard to imagine you wouldn’t love this album. And if you like the album, the singles are just as essential, particularly the dance floor smasher Eisbær. Oh, and if you’re a deep head, we’re also carrying a limited box set version that adds additional live material and a thick booklet that expands on the already-informative liner notes that appear on this 2x12” version.