|FORMED: April 1, 1980, Berlin, Germany
Along with Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle, Germany's Einsturzende Neubauten ("collapsing new buildings") helped pioneer industrial music with an avant-garde mix of white-noise guitar drones, vocals verging on unlistenable at times, and a clanging, rhythmic din produced by a percussion section consisting of construction materials, hand and power tools, and various metal objects. Neubauten was founded by vocalist/guitarist Blixa Bargeld and percussionist and American expatriate N.U. Unruh in Berlin as a performance art collective; their early activities included a seemingly inexplicable half-naked appearance on the Berlin Autobahn, where the duo spent some time beating on the sides of a hole in an overpass.
The group's early lineup also included percussionists Beate Bartel and Gudrun Gut, plus contributor and sound engineer Alexander Van Borsig; their earliest recordings are mostly unstructured, free-form noise issued on various cassettes and singles, including their first single, "Fuer den Untergang," 1981 EP Schwarz, and 1982 album Kollaps. Some of these recordings are compiled on the 80-83 Strategies Against Architecture collection, with live shows on the cassette-only 2 X 4. Bartel and Gut were replaced by ex-Abwarts member F.M. Einheit (who served as Neubauten's chief machinery operator) in 1983, when guitarist and electronics expert Alexander Hacke and Abwarts bassist Marc Chung also joined.
A tour of England opening for The Birthday Party resulted in a contract with Some Bizarre Records, which released the slightly more structured Portrait of Patient O.T., as well as consternation from club owners and journalists over Neubauten's stage demolitions and frequent ensuing violence. When Nick Cave left The Birthday Party and formed his backing band The Bad Seeds, Bargeld became the guitarist and toured and recorded with Cave over most of the decade. He remained with Neubauten, however, which released 1/2 Mensch in 1986, showcasing its wider range of expression. The group disbanded briefly but soon re-formed, and have released albums off and on since then for Elektra, signing to Trent Reznor's Nothing label for 1998's Ende Neu.
While Bargeld remains a Bad Seed, Van Borsig and Hacke contributed to the remainder of The Birthday Party's recordings as Crime and the City Solution. Elektra reissued both Strategies Against Architecture compilations on CD, while most of the group's '80s albums remain available on the independent Thirsty Ear label. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide