Jazz Archiv Hamburg/ullstein bild via Getty Images
With a name that translates as “Collapsing New Buildings,” the industrial music of Einstürzende Neubaten developed an aesthetic that incorporated critiques of modernity and European society in the 1980s and beyond. The band made its first appearance and released a debut cassette in 1980 with a lineup that featured Blixa Bargeld, N. U. Unruh, Gudrun Gut, and Beate Bartel. Bargeld and Unruh had founded the group as a performance art collective, performing on the Berlin autobahn among other places. Its first tape, Stahlmusik, stands alone in Neubauten’s catalog as the only album heavily featuring a traditional drum kit, as opposed to the self-made instruments that had been incorporated by the band’s first LP release, 1982’s Kollapse. Gut and Bartel left and were replaced by F. M. Einhilt, Alexander Hacke, and Mark Chung by the end of 1983. This lineup would remain unchanged for fifteen years. By 1985 the group had incorporated a more traditional musical structure into its music, evident in that year’s Halber Mensch album. Driven by a third North American tour and a 1986 film depicting its tour to Japan the previous year, Neubauten’s fourth and fifth albums (1987 and 1989 respectively) sold well in the United States and Japan. Into the 1990s, the group changed direction. Its sixth album, 1993’s Tabula Rasa, presented the listener with a softer sound featuring more electronic instrumentation. It continued to record through the decade and to pick up new members. Bargeld ended his participation with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, with whom he had worked with since 1983, to focus on Neubauten’s production. The group’s post-millennium work found it incorporating Internet-oriented aesthetics and a “fund and release” production system while composing material for various formats.