A masterpiece that will surely prove to be this year's most fascinating alliance.
Colin Buttimer 2010-10-07
Mimikry is the product of a long-mooted collaboration between electronic prodigy Alva Noto, aka Carsten Nicolai, and Einstürzende Neubauten founder and former Bad Seeds guitarist Blixa Bargeld. As if such a match wasn't enough, two tracks feature the vocals of artist, model and actor Veruschka. Idiosyncratic in subject matter and by turns melodic, forlorn and disturbingly intense, Mimikry is a masterpiece that will surely prove to be this year's most fascinating alliance.
Mimikry begins with Fall's seemingly endless, high-pitched scream. Over the course of 10 minutes Bargeld and Noto essay a sonic vision of hell whose closest analogue may be Suicide's classic take on mental breakdown, Frankie Teardrop. Late on, the mood changes with simple figures traced on acoustic piano and Bargeld briefly speaking in English before returning to his native German. It's an unsettling, riveting experience.
Once Again comprises characteristic soundscapes from Alva Noto in the form of pummelling needle-like electronics while Bargeld's multi-tracked vocals continue in typically intense vein. The tone then changes entirely with a reading of Harry Nilsson's 1968 hit, One, its nimble, forlorn melody making for a surprising contrast. This technique of confounding expectations is reprised again later with a version of the charming I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground, a song recorded by Bascom Lamar Lunsford on Harry Smith's 1952 Anthology of American Folk Music.
Ret Marut Handshake, first heard on the duo's EP of the same name released in June, takes as its subject the mysterious figure of a German actor, journalist and anarchist whose identity has never been fully proven. Katze, featuring Veruschka on cat sounds and Bargeld in creepy killer mode, makes for a suitably peculiar conclusion to a highly original album. Bargeld alternates between majestic, unhinged and touchingly humane (but always compelling), while Nicolai's synthetic treatments and settings make for a truly impressive foil.