Downtown Music

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April 26, 2004 // UPDATED 1:21 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Holly Day
Holly Day

What noise?

With their avant-garde mix of white-noise guitar drones, beautifully harsh vocals and use of power tools and random metal objects for percussion, Germany's Einsturzende Neubauten helped pioneer industrial music way back in 1980 -- long before groups like the Blue Man Group did paint-drumming on "Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Einsturzende Neubauten's (pronounced Ein-shtur-tsen-da Noi-baught-en, or something like that) notorious habit of stealing materials from construction sites and concocting homemade instruments prior to a performance comes from their humble Berlin beginnings. After their first couple of performances, N.U. Unruh (Andrew Chudy) had to sell his drum kit to cover band expenses. (Yes, bands often lose money on their first few gigs.) Instead of springing for a new kit, Unruh assembled a pile of twisted metal scraps and chunks to bang on.

On stage and in the studio, Einsturzende Neubauten (we'll call them "E.N." from here on out) created a din of pneumatic drills, circular saws, metal cutters, plates and other junkyard discoveries for their first single, "Fur Den Untergang" in 1980 and their first full-length album, "Kollaps," in 1981. A little while later, lead siner Blixa Bargeld began performing with Nicg Cave's Birthday Party on the side, which led to Einsturzende Neubauten being signed to Birthday Party's label, Some Bizarre Records, and the release of "Zeichnungen des Patienten O.T."

For their newest album, "Perpetuum Mobile" on Mute Records, the band decided to allow a glimpse into the process of making an E.N. record. Webcams were installed in their Berlin studio to transmit the entire creative process over the Internet. For a nominal fee (to help guarantee the financial independence of the project) interested fans could log onto www.neubauten.org to view the start-to-finish production process.

"Perpetuum Mobile" is true to E.N.'s early days. The percussion is metallic, aggressive and clanging percussion, but subtle nuances -- including wind players, birdcalls, pedal steel guitars and a clavichord -- make it a truly unique listening experience.

Saturday, May 1, 6 p.m., First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N., $12 in advance, $15 at the door. 332-1775.

Dig that crazy jazz

The accomplished and downright amazing Stefon Harris is determined to bring back the soul of jazz -- that soul of innovation and improvisation many jazz musicians (and listeners) seem to have forgotten was a defining characteristic of the genre.

The 30-year-old vibraphonist and marimbist gets his inspiration from the noises and sights around him; you can almost see the cities that inspire each of his songs.

Harris is a recipient of three Grammy nominations (for "Black Action Figure," "Kindred" and 2003's soaring 12-piece concert-length jazz suite "The Grand Unification Theory") as well as Jazz at Lincoln Center's prestigious Martin E. Segal Award.

He has five albums out on Blue Note Records, and has recorded and toured with such luminaries as Wynton Marsalis, Charlie Hunter, Kenny Barron and Cassandra Wilson.

Monday and Tuesday, April 26-27, 8 and 10 p.m. Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant, 1010 Nicollet Mall, $17-$22. 332-1010.

Noisier noise

Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo's most successful side project, Superjoint Ritual, hits First Avenue's mainstage Monday, April 26.

Along with guitarists Jim Bower and Kevin Bond, drummer Joseph Fazzio and bassist Hank Williams III, Anselmo's going to make some loud music about getting loaded and being angry and as antisociety as a group of taxpaying 40-plus-year-olds can be.

Monday, April 26, 5 p.m. First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N. $15 advance, $18 at the door. 332-1775.

Holly Day can be reached at lalena@bitstream.net.