FM Einheit or "Mufti" to his friends, will be coming with his first new band since he left Neubauten during the sessions for their boring 1996 album Ende Neu. FM had been the chaotic element in Neubauten for 15 years, charging their live shows with an imposing physical presence by throwing himself into his drumming on metal percussion and amplified springs. With fellow percussionist, NU Unruh, he invented custom-made instruments and researched unique sound sources — even using his fists to thump out a rhythm on Blixa Bargeld's chest for the track "Thirsty Animal."
"To rebuild music in a new way was the thing that I was most interested in Neubauten," he said from rehearsals in his Steinschlag ("stone beat") studio in Bavaria, in Southern Germany. "To do something and in the next moment just to let the whole thing collapse and look at it from a different angle. I started the original sessions for Ende Neu but I left during the recording. I just didn't see any stepping forward in Neubauten. It wasn't collapsing and rebuilding anymore. I just got a bit bored with it."
Now Neubauten's original spirit of experimentation can be heard on Einheit's work with Andreas Ammer, including the award-winning productions Apocalypse Live and Radio Inferno (an update of Dante's classic that features narration by BBC broadcaster John Peel). Since Einheit's involvement with Neubauten's 1990 collaboration on playwright Heiner Muller's postmodern version of Shakespeare, Die Hamletmaschine, Einheit received a number of commissions to do music for theatre, dance and radio. Over a period of five years he created music for Muller's adaptation of the Prometheus myth, Edward Bond's Lear, an interactive dance/theatre production Sensation Death, a version of the Faust legend (featuring Blixa as Mephisto!) and several others yet to be released. Invisible has just recently issued another Ammer/Einheit radio production, Deutsche Krieger ("German Warriors"), which was made for Bavarian Broadcasting. The project is an ambitious attempt to encapsulate 20th century German history in three personalities: Kaiser Wilhelm, Adolf Hitler and Ulrike Meinhof.
"The idea was to use original sound sources to let history speak for itself, because every time you open a book, all the information is channelled by the author. But while we worked on these three parts, we found we were researching the history of recorded media. So from the First World War you have gramophone discs based on the invention of Thomas Alva Edison. And from the Second World War you have recordings that were played on the radio. And the third part was from TV."
Like Radio Inferno, Deutsche Krieger is a mix of spoken word, quoted music and original sound. Although it is in German the disc is nevertheless interesting for the research into the broadcast sources: in the case of part one, "Kaiser Wilhelm Overdrive," speeches were recreated after the fact; part two "Adolf Hitler Enterprise," contained equally fake reports from the war fronts, including bogus newscasts from submarines done War Of The Worlds-style in radio studios. Ammer/Einheit react to this fake history with their editorial selection of backing music and by putting re-edited words in the mouths of the speech makers.
"It was no problem to get the commission to do the first and second part, but when we wanted to do the third part about the Baader-Meinhof terrorists, which for us was most important because it was the part of history we had lived through, then we got a lot of problems. Nobody wanted to broadcast a piece about the Baader-Meinhof. This is something that makes you think."
Ulrike Meinhof was a '60s social activist who got caught up in the student protests against the imperialist war in Vietnam. When the German police fired on, and killed some protesters, she and the Baader group went underground and began a series of actions that included bombings and bank robberies.
"I remember it very well, because I was born in 1958, and they died (in jail) in 1977. The whole state of Germany was in hysteria. The media coverage was really oppressive and frightening. I remember my mother would say, 'if you don't go to sleep Ulrike Meinhof will come and get you.' People went in the street to celebrate after it was known they were dead — 'great, now we've got those pigs and they're dead.' It was quite difficult to get the original voices of the terrorists when they were underground. Of Baader, for example, there is nothing. Meinhof did a lot of TV and radio features before she was underground. She would say things like 'if you don't have the possibility to be on TV everyday, if you don't have the possibility of mass media, then why don't you use the only possibility you have, which is go on the street and take direct action.' So at that point she was sort of mixed, she would be sympathetic, but she didn't say you have to bomb. If you want to change something you have to be really radical about it, but I can't sympathise with killing people that aren't responsible. The right way is to change yourself and act in a new way."
On the way from Invisible is Ammer/Einheit's Odysseus 7, as they take the Greek epic into outer space! Music from Einheit's new band of little-known Swiss musicians (including a second drummer, female singer and human beat box) will be released later.