Aside from his work with German industrial noise pioneers Einsturzende Neubauten, F.M. Einheit has created a series of intriguing side projects in recent years. Deutsche Krieger is Einheit's third collaboration with Andreas Ammer; like their second project together -- Radio Inferno, Deutsche Krieger, too, has been released on the Chicago-based Invisible label.
Deutsche Krieger is an epic exploration of 20th. century German history through sound. Ammer and Einheit has excavated the German audio libraries for sound recordings of Kaiser Wilhelm, Adolf Hitler, Ulrike Meinhof, Goebbels, Kohl, Baader and dozens of other historical personalities. Samples of these people's words have been integrated into Ammer and Einheit's compositions. Centered around the three greatest periods of German crises of this century, the work has been divided into three distinct parts entitled: I. Kaiser Wilhelm Overdrive; II. Adolf Hitler Enterprise; and III. Ulrike Meinhof Paradise. At turns comical and chilling, this aural voyage through the past is at every turn fascinating.
Opening with the first few bars of Beethoven's fifth symphony, the CD immediately embarks on Kaiser Wilhelm Overdrive. The crackling of the old 78 rpm vinyl sources has been retained by Ammer and Einheit. The initial phrases by the Kaiser are rather ludicrous at this distance, and they have been underscored by a whimsical keyboard soundtrack. Later, as the samples become more vulgar in their viciousness, the underlying music also grows darker and more foreboding in mood.
Adolf Hitler Enterprise takes the listener through the drama of Hitler's rise to power and the second world war. This segment is richer in different sounds and voice samples than the former. The voices of various Nazi radio announcers, Hitler's political speeches, fragments of classical music, and the sounds of chaos and war are all weaved together with Ammer and Einheit's synth loops, which in turn makes extensive use of Kraftwerk's "Trans Europe Express." This segment ends with an imaginary burial ceremony for the German Fuhrer. The radio footage sounds authentic enough, and this passage is one of the most interesting on the CD, as it plays with the manipulative nature of the radio medium.
The third and final segment of the CD concerns the scandal surrounding Ulrike Meinhof, who allegedly supported and protected the members of the German Baader terrorist organization. To fit the period of the early 1970s, Ammer and Einheit creates a theme that utilizes not only funky disco rhythms, but also elements of Beethoven's fifth symphony, along with their own synth and percussion loops. The segment is again rich on media samples, and especially the extensive excerpts sampled from Ulrike Meinhof's defense speeches, in which she declares Germany a police state, are very powerful.
Ammer and Einheit's project is difficult to do justice in words. Deutsche Krieger is an extremely powerful work, the like of which has never (to my knowledge) been done before -- except for the musicians' own Radio Inferno, which did follow a similar design. While it is hardly a CD that one plays for its catchy dance grooves, it is a fascinating aural history book suited for careful and engaged listening.
Reviewed by Michael C. Lund (Last Sigh.com).