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Forty year old German Rudy Ratzinger is for all intents and purposes, Wumpscut. Employing occasional help, he largely relies on his skill as a DJ, and a passion for electronic music to produce and intense Electro-Industrial palette on which is set a morbid, sometime gruesome, overtures.
This combination has brought Wumpscut of the now popular Industrial/Dance realm. It could be argued they have little or nothing to do with 'Goth' per se, but know it or not, it's what you are dancing to. Frequent output over the last decade has brought him to the attention of many, if only due the sheer volume he produces. Since 1991, he has produced over 25 albums, not counting numerous remixes as Wumpscut, and has still more under his own name, as well as many side projects. Wumpscut, which sometime goes by the cipher 'W:', frequently releases elaborately packaged limited edition offering, many with bonus tracks, remixes, and the like. The Rudy Ratzinger story all begins in the early '90's in Munich, where Ratzinger was working as a DJ at a club called 'The Pipiline'. Inspired by the EBM pioneer 'Leather Strip', Ratzinger was convinced that he too, like Leather Strip's Claus Larsen, could single handedly produce his own music. Wumpscut struck gold with their first full-length release in 1993, the cheerily titled "Music for a Slaughtering Tribe", which included the club hit "Soylent Green" (the single included excerpts from the German version of the 1973 Charlton Heston classic). The following year saw the beginnings of Ratzinger's prodigious output, with no less than 3 releases. 'Gomorra' as well as 'Dried Blood', and it's 3 song vinyl companion piece, the charmingly titled "Smell the Disgusting Sweet
Taste of Dried Blood". 1995 saw the release of what some consider Wumpscut's best album to date, "Bunkertor 7" (released in the U.S. as 'Bunker
Gate 7'). Including now signature tracks such as ballads 'Thorns' and 'Die in Winter' offsetting the generally dance oriented 'Capital Punishment', 'Mortal
Highway 'as well as the title track. Through extensive reissues and repackaging, there were as many as seven different versions of this album of the years. It was around this time that Ratzinger established the first of his own labels, " Beton Kopf Media" strictly for Wumpscut releases, and he also formed 'Mental Ulcer Forges' for other artists.
In late 1996, Metropolis records signed Wumpscut, and immediately went about re-issuing their back catalog. "Dried Blood of Gomorrha" was released 1997, combining remixed tracks from his first two out-of-print releases. "Music for a Slaughtering Tribe II", also came out. A remastered version of the original expanded with the inclusion of the now inevitable remixes. As far as new material, the
offering was the dark and brooding 'Embryodead'. Varied in scope, bordering on uneven, it is in some respects, possibly their most accessible album.
This was followed late that year by, predictably enough, yet another compilation, "Born Again" containing dance oriented remixes of previous material. Wumpscut seemed to have finally hit a bump in the proverbial road in 1998, when the seemingly endless flow of material sputtered. The promise
of new material was repeatedly delayed, fans had to satisfy themselves with the ultra-redundant 'Totmacher'(released as 'Deadmaker' domestically)
album continuing 19 remixes of the same song(!) followed by the eventual release of 'Boeses Junges Flisch' (Evil Young Flesh), which showed that indeed Ratzinger had returned to full morbid form. Naturally, this issue of new material called for yet another compilation, and the following year, the two-disc 'Blutkind' (Bloodchild) rehashing many rare and unreleased efforts from years past. While of keen interest to some compleatists, it's otherwise unimpressive. The emerging new millennium saw
Wumpscut sound take a slight turn toward the electronic, and less toward the pounding industrial dirges of the past. The 2001 album 'Wreath of Barbs' was an example of the adage of 'less being more', as this less experimental approach by Ratzinger, served as something of a reassertion of his viability.
He scored a dance hit with the delicately monikered 'Christfuck'. This was followed up by (you guessed it!)"Preferential Legacy /Music for a German Tribe" yet another double-disc compilation of outtakes, rarities, and other collectibles from early on , highlight by a pair of new tracks. One of which is a rare cover, curiously, of '80's British female troubadour Allison Moyet's "All Cried Out". "Bone Peeler" released in 2004, saw Ratzinger's as
belligerent as ever, spewing forth a wide range of bristling musical threats and vows. In some respects, as assertive as anything to precede it, it still
lacks some of the punch that was so much a part of Ratzingers arsenal. As if in reaction to the frenzied "Bone Peeler" the following years album 'Evoke"
was a frustrating, confusing offering. Flaccid by comparison, it features a complete change of tone, accentuated by the appearance of female vocals.
Disappointing many fans, this could be considered the weakest piece to date. There was a lot of collective hand wringing in anticipation of the latest
release, "'Cannibal Anthem" released earlier this year. While it did show something of a return to form, particularly on the great tune " Jesus
Antichristus", it still carried with it vestiges of "Evokes'" female vocals, while doing away with much of the annoying repetitive looping,. Wumpscut is a band that quickly discernable, and just as quickly accessed. Ratzinger's tried and true formula rarely varies. You can form an opinion of their music form almost any point, and accurately surmise the over all theme through out. This has advantages as well as disadvantages. Wumpscut is responsible for as much dross as any band in recent memory, and attempting to keep up on the ever expanding discography can be as tedious as some of their remixes. You are constantly reminded that English is very much Ratzinger's second language, and his heavily accented lyrics aren't readily literate. Still, Wumpscut isn't about lyrics, and remains a touchstone for the industrial/electro Gothic genre.
Nasu Blue ~
This newly emerging female duo from Indianapolis, blend familiar themes with their own unique style to turn out some wonderfully listenable tunes. Both alumni from the band 'Dizeazed' they bring their metal chops to bare against synthesized back drops and rhythms. Their smooth and confident, with an engaging stripped down approach works well with the varied styles they tackle. There's no need for effects or gimmicks when consistently good material is presented this well. No frenetic chords being beat to death over
a booming beat. This is Gothic music that is meant to be (gasp!) listened to! This being said, that are still somewhat hard to categorize. Influences that are apparent upon listening range from everything from Collide (previously reviewed here) to Pink Floyd. Members Dannie Lee and Macey Blue released their first 3 song CD last year "Fashionably Late", followed quickly by another, 'Brights" later the same year. Both showed the varied ability and great potential these ladies have. This year saw the release of another 3 song set "Motet Gloria" which is another consistent effort in the same direction. Currently there are plans afoot for their first EP penned for a release this fall. At this point, they have enough material to include in one heck of a good album if they choose. It's up to some insightful record label to draw the same conclusion.
Massive Attack ~
It could be contended that Massive Attack has worked their way in the annals of Gothdom through osmosis. Formed in the late '80's, spawned from the
Bristol area art influenced 'Wild Bunch', a loose grouping of musicians, DJ's, and other artists. They drew on a wide range of musical styles outside of the usual rock genre. They weren't afraid to mix elements of classical with reggae, and early hip hop with jazz. The band was initially tied with the label 'Trip Hop', which they didn't particularly care for. Indeed they have since shown the extent of their diversity. Yet given what has blossomed since, it is no stretch to say they were something of the originators, whether they like it or not! Consisting at that time of three members, Robert '3D' Del Naja, Grant 'Daddy G' Marshall, and Andrew 'Mushroom' Vowles they broke through big time with their very first album 'Blue Lines', in 1991.
Primarily a collection of their out put from their inception, and included tracks with a wide variety of vocalists, the likes of Shara Nelson, reggae's Horace Andy, and fellow Wild Bunch compadre, rapper/DJ Tricky. "Blue Lines" dub, oriented beats and rhythms, blind sided the U.K. dance scene, at the time, and has gone on to be considered a classic of it's kind in some circles. Now that they had made their presence known on the musical scene, they were expected to produce a worthy follow up. It would be another three years until 'Protection' appeared. In the same vein, it expands on the territories the band has already mapped out, but at a more relaxed pace. Success had allowed the band the luxury of the best the production tricks around, and they had made the best of it, including a pair of tracks complete with full string arrangements. The multi-layered numbers again included a variety of vocalists lending their support. Most notably among them 'Everything but the Girl's vocalist Tracy Thorn turns in a marvelous effort on a pair of tracks, including the hit title track. Stylistically, this album is all over the place, and shows the clouds on the horizon of a darker turn creeping in. This may have been a reflection growing internal tensions within the band. 'Mezzanine' saw a distinct change in the bands over all direction. Gone were the jazz tinged interludes, and dance-happy beats. They'd been replaced by a starker mood, emphasized by distorted guitars and assertive electronic percussion. This outing featured Elizabeth Fraser, fresh from a recently defunct 'Cocteau Twins' wielding the mike, along with a Sara Jay, and the return of Horace Andy. Cold swirling bass-lines and near psychedelic arrangements, make this the sound track for dire moments. Incidentally, the groups work had come to the attention of musical directors and jingle-merchants. Their work began to appear in ads and television shows. The track 'Dissolving Girl' is the song Neo is listening to on his headphones at the beginning of the movie 'The Matrix'. That should win you a pound or two at the pub! They had also began to expand their sound on stage as well, steering away form their traditional turntables and mixing boards, and incorporating more live musicians. Andrew 'Mushroom' Vowles became frustrated with this new direction and departed. He was replaced by Neil Davidge. Marshal, as well, was not on hand for the recording of the bands fourth album, "100th Window". Left to his devices, Del Naja seems merely to extend the themes of 'Mezzanine', albeit in slightly lighter direction. Andy makes another appearance, and Sinead O'Connor sits in as well. Many fans felt this album was nothing short of a let down. In 2004, now joined by programmer Alex Swift (Marshal had taken a break to raise his infant daughter) the band released their first sound track, 'Danny the Dog'. Undistinguished, it is merely a competent, if unremarkable sound track. Typical short pieces of mood evoking instrumentals. This was released well before the accompanying Jet Li film, which had it's title changed in the interim, to 'Unleashed.' They also contributed a pair of tracks (one, nearly a half hour long!) to the 'Bullet Boy' sound track. 2006 saw their hits collected, on the aptly titled 'Collection', it also included a pair of new songs. Anticipation is currently building in expectant fans, as a new album 'Weather Underground' is expected anytime. Among those contributing this time around are the ever present Horace Andy, Mos Def, Dot Allison, and former 'Faith No More Vocalist' Mike Patton. Internal friction has long been a part of this group, and supposedly, this album the meber recorded in separate studios. Del Naja was recently quoted as saying he keeps shows interesting by getting drunk. There are some rumors circulating that this may be the last go round of this incarnation of Massive Attack, so stay tuned!
TOP 10 TRACKS as of 2006.08.29
My Scarlet Life - Reflection
Die Warzau - Insect
Vas - In the Garden of Souls
Snog - Corporate Slave
Seraphim Shock - Sex Toy
Das Ich - Zuckerbrot und Peitsche
Suicide Commando, Alie - Dein Herz Meine Gier
Love like Blood - Killing Joke
Collide - Razor Sharp
Das Ich - Schwarzes Gift
TOP 10 TRACKS as of 2006.09.04
My Scarlet Life - Reflection
Sisters of Mercy - Gimme Shelter
Dead Can Dance - Enigma of the Absolute
Collide - Razor Sharp
Zeromancer - Clone Your Lover
This Ascension - Poor Mortal Lost
Vas - In The Garden of Souls
The Cure - Fascination Street
Seraphim Shock - Sex Toy
Suicide Commando, Alien Sex Fiend - Dein Herz meine Gier
Top 10 tracks, thanks to your VOTES.
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