The German Band (or Solo Artist) You Ought to Know, Vol. 1: Blumfeld

I like to think that I have a lot of Rob Fleming-type readers in whose social circles status is determined by how many Jesus and Mary Chain B-sides one can name spontaneously. That is a bit irrational given that I don't write about music that often. But I'm going to proceed from that assumption nevertheless.

So, how many German bands can your friends name, eh? Kraftwerk, sure. Probably Can. And after that the well dries up pretty quickly. (No, David Hasselhoff isn't German. He's also not a band.) So, to lend you a hand, I'm going to educate you about German music every weekend from now on. If you follow these posts conscientiously, you'll be able to shut 'em up pretty soon. (Take the "every weekend" bit as a plan rather than a promise.)

We'll start with Blumfeld, named after the main character in an unnamed Kafka short story.

Bands often go from being pretty "indie" to being more mainstream (probably an age effect), but Blumfeld are the most extreme example I can think of in this respect. In their early days - up to the second album - they were really undergroundish (some of their stuff was almost punk), while their later music was clear-cut, George Michael-style pop - to the point that their songs at best bored me and at worst got on my nerves. (I don't recommend their last two albums.)

One of the best songs from their earlier phase is "Verstärker". The title is a pretty clever wordplay given that "Verstärker" can mean both "amplifier" (as in Marshall) and "reward" (as in behaviourism). When I had a look at the following YouTube clip, I was a bit surprised at first, until I read some comments to the effect that this is not the (better) version to be found on the (highly recommended) album L'etat et moi, but an earlier single version. You may find this one a bit boring at first, but trust me, listen to it four times in a row and it becomes hypnotic. Watching the video is also recommended for people who are into stupid haircuts.

As an example of their later stuff, here's "Tausend Tränen tief". I guess it's one of those things that you either hate or love: Either you think it's kitsch, or you (like me) find it hauntingly beautiful. By the way, that older bloke in the video is the formerly famous actor Helmut Berger.

Fun fact: André Rattay, who was this band's drummer, was (and I guess is) a Bayern Munich supporter. He even used to own (and I guess still owns) Bayern Munich bedlinen. That is so un-indie that it's probably indie.

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