Monarchie und Alltag, the 1980 debut album by Die Fehlfarben, is one of the key releases of the Neue Deutsche Welle (NDW), the German equivalent of new wave.
Die Fehlfarben were never quite the same after Monarchie und Alltag – constant lineup shuffling, intermittent streaks of band activity – and though the album fell upon deaf ears initially, it grew in stature over the years and rightly became recognized as a cornerstone of modern German rock.
Renowned for decades, the band nonetheless only ever scored one proper hit, “Ein Jahr (Es Geht Voran),” a song from Monarchie und Alltag that became a surprise Top 20 smash belatedly in 1982, after EMI reissued it as a single during the height of the Neue Deutsche Welle.
The roots of Fehlfarben reach back to the dawn of German punk in 1977. Formed by members of the Düsseldorf punk scene, the band began as a ska outfit à la 2 Tone, evolved to post-punk for Monarchie und Alltag, and then drifted toward new wave over the course of the early ’80s before going on hiatus in 1985, by which time only one original member remained in the lineup.
Beginning in 1991, Die Fehlfarben reunited with increasing frequency, relishing the critical re-evaluation of their contribution to modern German rock. It may have taken 20 years, but a consensus appreciation for the trailblazing of Die Fehlfarben, particularly on Monarchie und Alltag, did come, better late than never.
Every year anew, during the Rauhnächte (those harsh nights between Christmas and Twelfth Day), the Wild Hunt (Die Wilde Jagd) rides across the country: raucous, jeering hunters from the netherworld, whose path it is better not to cross. This is an ancient Germanic myth, which, in slightly varied form, is known in many parts of Europe and whose name Ralf Beck and Sebastian Lee Philipp have aptly chosen for their new project.
The two first met in 2006 in Düsseldorf’s Salon des Amateurs, a meeting place for new and established experimental musicians and artists, also known as Germany’s “postpunk Hacienda”. It seems no coincidence that Düsseldorf is the duo’s founding city: their music is full of subtle references to local acts, such as Kraftwerk, NEU!, DAF, Liaisons Dangereuses, Pyrolator, the Krupps and Propaganda.
Since their first meeting, Beck and Philipp regularly come together during the time of the Rauhnächte to record in Beck’s well-equipped studio. Using the numerous analog keyboards and recording devices assembled there, and combining them with a diverse range of percussion instruments, they create their own “hunting music”, which at times sounds unsettling, like swampland or a dark forest, but also urgent and pressing, like incandescent lasers or a hypnotic dance.
Their soundscape is marked by repetitive guitar loops, electronic percussion, drums and synthesizers. Booming tom-toms and medieval-sounding flutes herald the start of the hunt.
Whispering, reciting voices conjure up the spirits of the woods, while synthetic sounds, melodies and noises flit about before they are re-captured, structured and grounded by crystalline beats and pulsating bass lines.
Fehlfarben + Die Wilde Jagd
Wednesday, 09 December 2015 | 20:00 CET
Lido | Cuvrystraße 7 | 10997 Berlin