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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Einstuerzende Neubauten
The Jewels

Rating: 7/10 ?

August 6, 2008
Coming on the heels of last year's Alles Wieder Offen, The Jewels, Einstuerzende Neubauten's twelfth and latest album, is a collection of songs inspired by a made up game called "DAVE." Like much of the German industrial pioneers' music itself, the game behind The Jewels operates with no set rules, instead consisting of 600 cards with fragments, memories, visions and memories from the band's past. When composing the album the members of the band, led by enigmatic frontman Blixa Bargeld, played the tarot-like "DAVE" every other day, allowing for 48 hours between rounds to create a song based on and inspired by what the cards presented to them.

The resulting songs are generally two or three minutes long, and owing to the loose experimental nature of their premise, are of average quality. In the wake of Alles Wieder Offen, which was an incredible blast of creativity that in one listen managed to wipe clean a slate dirtied by years of suspect material, Jewels comes as a return to passable but slightly disappointing art. To be sure, every now and then The Jewels resonates with echoes of Neubauten's past, but the fast-paced production of these new compositions scars the final product severely. Had the band allowed themselves time to ruminate on and vet their ideas and finish the production rather than holding themselves to their experimental premise, The Jewels might have been another extraordinary Einstuerzende Neubauten creation. In its present state, however, it falls short of the high standards the band has set for themselves over nearly three decades of creating music.

The idea of letting anything, especially a game without rules, dictate the outcome of an entire album is an interesting and artistically valid experiment, especially since the backbone of the game is the band's own past. But tethering the fluidity of the creative process - making a rule out of it - ultimately contradicts the no rules premise of "DAVE" in the first place, doesn't it? Who knows - had the game taken another turn, perhaps The Jewels would have been truly remarkable. Apparently it just wasn't in the cards.

Like all truly creative vehicles, Einstuerzende Neubauten is a hit-and-miss entity, and an exercise in patience. They are, however, also a band you can trust; for each trough in the sine-wave of their career, there is a corresponding peak of brilliance just around the corner. As fans of non-formulaic artists, we must be resigned to wait for that next amazing album, and allow for some experimental duds every now and then as well. Any way you slice it Einstuerzende Neubauten's catalog is a rewarding collection and even the misses are better than 95% of all the music out there today.

Reviewed by Daniel Svanberg
A contributing writer for LAS, Daniel Svanberg now lives in Boston, far far away from Sweden, where he once lived, although the weather is the same.

See other reviews by Daniel Svanberg



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