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Fehlfarben "Glücksmaschinen" (CD)

Personnel: Peter Hein (vocals); Frank Fenstermacher (keyboards); Pyrolator (synthesizer, laptop).Recording information: Chez Cherie, Berlin; Transporterraum, Berlin.In the early `80s, Germany's Fehlfarben were at the leading edge of the NDW (New Deutsche Welle) movement, which was basically the German new wave scene, encompassing synth pop, post-punk, and more. In their early days, Fehlfarben's blend of punk-informed edge and energy, Gang of Four/A Certain Ratio-style punk-funk grooves, and sharp synthesizer licks made them one of NDW's leading lights. The band broke up in the mid-`80s, but Glücksmaschinen finds them three albums deep into their second "comeback" period (the first took place in the early `90s). Bringing a beloved old band back to life is a tricky proposition even under the best of circumstances, and many of Fehlfarben's contemporaries have certainly tried it before, with subpar results, but somehow, Glücksmaschinen manages to pull it off. The band neither tries to stick too self-consciously to the sound of its glory days nor grafts ill-fitting contemporary elements onto its style; instead, the group strikes an effective balance between old and new on an album that bears an obvious debt to the Fehlfarben of the past but still seems like it could have been made by one of the young bands of today indebted to the post-punk sounds of the early `80s. Singer Peter Hein sounds strong -- and sometimes downright savage -- as he gives his all and goes for the jugular on these tracks, which still mix danceable beats with an urgent post-punk attack and skillful use of synths and electronic techniques, just as the band did in the days of yore. Still, despite all the ostensible similarities to vintage Fehlfarben, the full frontal assault of such cuts as the pulsing, synthesizer-driven "Neues Leben" and the crashing, wailing, whisper-to-a-scream "Ausgeraucht" makes them sound so fresh they could be bonus cuts from the latest Editors album. (~ J. Allen)


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