Born out of the Berlin performance-art scene in the early 1980s, Einstürzende Neubauten (along with Throbbing Gristle) staked out the most confrontational, challenging territory of the then-new industrial genre. The group’s deliberately cacophonic approach reverberated in more dance-floor-ready groups like Ministry and Front 242, as well as art-punks like Wire, but Neubauten pushed sonic deconstruction to the limits of tolerance. The results were often harsh and frightening, and less recognizable as music than as recordings of some deadly forklift accident in a sheet-metal factory. The band’s output slowed after leader Blixa Bargeld joined Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds, but always kept clawing at the edge of the experimental frontier. That uncompromising aesthetic (not to mention lyrics that were mainly in German) ensured a limited cult audience, but Neubauten’s influence can be heard in later bands from Mr. Bungle to TV On The Radio.
Neubauten celebrates its 30th anniversary with the double-disc Strategies Against Architecture IV, its fourth retrospective compilation. Picking up studio recordings and rarities from 2002 to 2010, it showcases a band that may be older and mellower than the explosive early sturm und drang, but still remains far ahead of most others of its kind. Bargeld and company explore textured, even minimalist territory on the chilling drone of “Insomnia,” while the more propulsive “Dead Friends (Around The Corner)” and “GS1 & GS2” put them in company with Wire’s recent Read & Burn series. Ironically, for a band whose very name expressed its anarchist tendencies—it means “Collapsing New Buildings”—Neubauten has long since proved that its music has staying power.