Film Review: Einstürzende Neubauten’s “Palast der Republik”

German industrial godfathers Einstürzende Neubauten are a visual and aural masterpiece. With a stage that looks more like a factory or workshop covered with air compressors, pipes, springs and things like that — to the unimaginative eye it could seemingly resemble objects more like medieval torture devices than instruments. It is best to expect the unexpected with Neubauten. Having celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2005, a live DVD of the band in action seems long overdue. “Palast Der Republik” is just that DVD for patient fans.

Wonderfully filmed on November 4, 2004, at the former East German Parliament building, the performance is edited to include a variety of angles, including somewhat grainy close-ups from an onstage cameraman stuck behind the percussion platform, who pops out now and again. While the picture format is only in 4:3 as opposed to widescreen, it is but a minor grievance.

Instead of pulling out the metal piping for the “Grundstueck” (literally “ground pieces”), the band take to the upper level of the building to take turns banging on metal railings, laughing the entire time. On “Perpetuum Mobile,” a barefooted frontman Blixa Bargeld rocks out with a handheld radio, flexing the antenna like the neck of a guitar while the always meticulous percussionist N.U. Unruh runs across the stage and through the crowd backstage, dragging banging metal canisters behind him. The DVD also shows a special performance with a 100 voice choir of fans. While clocking in at over an hour and twenty minutes, the DVD also includes band commentary, a promo trailer and more.

Having been lucky enough to catch the band in April, 2004, in New York, on one of their handful of US dates, the DVD captures the energy and the attraction of the band as they continually experiment on stage. The lack of conversation between the band and the audience, a treat that would likely be lost for English speaking viewers, is somewhat disappointing. Whether you have seen the band before and are looking to relive those exciting concert moments or are simply interested in seeing the innovative band, “Palast Der Republik” has something for everyone.

Originally posted on PlugInMusic.com. Photo by Moto Sinabel.

Corinne

In a previous life, Corinne ran a music website. After going strong for a decade, the site went on a hiatus. Consider her the antiTastemaker.