A01 – Tibor Szemzö – ”Skullbase Fractures”
A02 – Zwitschermaschine – ”Geh über die Grenze”
A03 – Der Demokratische Konsum – ”Krebs ohne Stuhl”
A04 – Vágtázó Halottkémek – ”Másféle Táj”
A05 – Vladimir Tarasov – ”Atto III «Drumtheatre» (excerpt)”
B01 – New Composers – ”One Minute to Start”
B02 – AG. Geige – ”Elektrische Banane”
B03 – Borghesia – ”Divlja”
B04 – A. E. Bizottság – ”Pek-Pek”
B05 – Ziemia Mindel Würm – ”Untitled”
C01 – NSRD – ”Ost West”
C02 – New Composers – ”Max-Industry”
C03 – DG 307 – ”Co Sme?”
C04 – Praffdata – ”Live in Remont, Warsaw”
C05 – Aktual – ”Atentát Na Kulturu”
D01 – Katalin Ladik – ”Oplakivanje”
D02 – Kilhets – ”Kilhets”
D03 – Pffft…! – ”Live at Intermedia I (Zonic edit)”
D04 – Vágtázó Halottkémek – ”Live in Petőfi Csarnok”
D05 – Andrzej Mitan, Włodzimierz Borowski, Cezary Staniszewski, Tomasz Wilmanski – ”Ptaki”
D06 – Ornament & Verbrechen – ”Der lächelnde Chinese”
This double LP compilation is a meeting of musicians and artists that never happened. They never shared the same stage, and their activities never combined into a movement. Mostly active in the 1970s and 1980s in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Hungarian People’s Republic, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, the People’s Republic of Poland, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the German Democratic Republic, the groups and individuals who feature on this record were often divided by the insular and paranoid policies of the communist states in which they lived.
Yet, they belonged to a richly imagined and stimulating commonwealth of ideas, images and desires.
Some of the music was recorded during energetic public concerts; some of it was laid down in home-made studios, and some in state recording facilities. Improvisation – when access to stages and equipment were carefully rationed by power – was not just a matter of musical extemporisation: it was often the result of necessity. All of it, in all its diversity, shares a common thread of provocative ideas and emancipation through musical expression.
The resulting mix is extremely varied and cuts across different epochs, styles and countries. It comprises the brutal attacks on “state-sanctioned” cultural projects of Czech group Aktual, who were influenced by Fluxus, via Katalin Ladik’s avant-garde vocal artistry influenced by folk music from the province of Vojvodina, or the psychedelic rhythms of Lithuanian jazz drummer Vladimir Tarasov; also represented are DG 307, the Czech underground heroes who were close affiliates of the band The Plastic People of the Universe; the radical progressive rock of Kilhets, who were rather more closely affiliated with the Prague Jazz Section (Jazzová sekce) and favoured using more official channels subversively; post-punk, as played by the East Berlin band Ornament & Verbrechen, influenced by the Geniale Dilletanten and industrial music; and the even more crazily spun out group Der demokratische Konsum. In the south of the GDR, there was the Dresden-based art punk band Zwitschermaschine; the Kunstkrach (art noise) project Pffft…! from Leipzig; as well as the absurdist electronic AG. Geige from Karl-Marx-Stadt (now Chemnitz), who found their weird soul and sound mates in the Latvian band NSRD (Restoration Workshop of Unfelt Feelings). They in turn would have been a good fit at the FV disco events hosted by the video artists and gay rights pioneers Borghesia, who are considered to have been trailblazers of (queer) club culture, a title which in the Soviet Union, and particularly in Leningrad, Novye Kompository (New Composers) could have rightly claimed for themselves. In addition, there is the tempestuous punk shamanism of Vágtázó Halottkémek aka The Galloping Coroners, the neo-dadaist post-punk jazz spectacle of A. E. Bizottság, and the cerebral, experimental compositions of Tibor Szemző, the subliminal cacophony of Praffdata from Poland, a real-life twitter installation by Andrzej Mitan, and the dirty ritualistic beats of Ziemia Mindel Würm.
These are the sounds that oscillated between the “official” sphere of art, which it rarely entered, and the deepest recesses of subculture: Sounds that quite probably have never been heard before in this constellation – definitely not beyond their national borders.
Here, they are presented with essays that describe their origins and hint at the riches still left to discover in those (almost) hype-free Eastern sound zones.
This compilation signals the coming together of four different projects which have been covering overlooked histories and alternative art in the former Eastern Bloc and Yugoslavia in the second half of the 20th century: Germany’s Major Label and Zonic platform, Poland’s Notes From the Underground exhibition and Portugal’s Unearthing the Music project.