Today a band who's name was formed by an unexpected random selection of cut papers with written letters and words. One day, the members of the band put them in a hat and took out one by one, regrouping the pieces in a final word according to what they thought would look graphically aesthetic, and the word ‘Nitzer Ebb’ came out.
Influenced by the Expressionism and Dadaism movements, this electronic project settled a landmark on the Industrial-EBM dance scene through their bleeding, powerful songs combining devastating synth lines and fierce vocals. Though their lyrics seem meaningless for the ill-advised, they are lightly engaged, making use of political symbols - mostly of them about totalitarian dictatorships – in order to ironically criticize them and to defend a more humanistic perspective and the individual right to question the government’s actions. Before the majority of industrial acts added guitars and became the heavy metal of the 1990s, Nitzer Ebb produced hard-hitting electronic music with the Teutonic bent and abrasive edge of early industrial music, plus the vocal chanting and beat-heavy flavor of the late-'80s alternative and Balearic dance scene. ....N'Joy
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Nitzer Ebb began when Bon Harris and David Gooday asked Douglas McCarthy to sing in their band. They shared an interest in witchcraft, talking to trees, and collecting runestones in Chelmsford and Little Baddow. Their inspiration were bands such as DAF, Killing Joke, and Bauhaus. In August 1983, the group recorded its first demo tape, Basic Pain Procedure, produced by Chris Piper and Paul Chousmer This rare demo tape included eight songs The trio began with shows in small local venues, but its arresting stage presence, military-like image, and energy garnered a growing base of followers and soon led to appearances in larger clubs and concert venues. Combining the energy of punk with the electronic pulse of DAF, it released its debut single "Isn't It Funny How Your Body Works" on 7 January 1985 on its own label, Power of Voice Communications, and its music soon became a fixture on the club scene. A double-A-sided single, "Warsaw Ghetto"/"So Bright So Strong," followed in 1985 to similar critical and dance floor acclaim. Two further releases, "Let Your Body Learn"/"Get Clean" and "Murderous" were released on Power of Voice Communications before the group signed with Mute Records. The group’s recordings were licensed to Geffen Records in the United States, which kept the band on its roster when that label switched distributors from Warner Bros. Records to MCA Records. In 2012, Pylon Records re-released Basic Pain Procedure on record and in June 2013 it was released on CD.
Sonically, Nitzer Ebb evoked the sequenced teutonic basslines and barked commands of Virgin-era DAF in its early days, and took the energy of post-punk bands like Killing Joke and Bauhaus to create a new aesthetic. As the group grew in confidence and ability, it began to develop the Nitzer Ebb sound—a blend of unusual analogue trickery, minimal song structure, heavy drum beats and percussion, and Douglas McCarthy's soulful vocals—either shouted, sung, or spoken. Its sound was captured perfectly in one of the band’s publicity slogans from 1987—"International Funk Aggression"—despite being hard and heavy, its tracks were always very danceable.
Nitzer Ebb's musical weapons of choice included the Roland SH-101, a WASP synth, the Roland System 100, the Sequential Pro-One, the classic Oberheim Xpander, and the Yamaha TX81Z, and with this arsenal of analogue, digital FM, and extremely large modular synthesizers, created a sound that still stands up today. Along with a phalanx of Akai samplers, Nitzer Ebb was able to create a minimal yet expansive and accessible electronic sound, that saw it develop from the sparse electronic basslines and beats of That Total Age to the widescreen technicolor funk of Showtime and Ebbhead.
Nitzer Ebb were seen as a totality, comprising music, art and culture, manifesting itself as a Nitzer Ebb Produkt (an homage to the band Kraftwerk), which saw all advertisements, fliers, record sleeves, letterheads, T-shirts, and other objects all sharing a collective identity that was heavily influenced by Russian Constructivist art, Italian Futurism, totalitarian imagery, and Expressionism. Long-time collaborator Simon Grainger was an unofficial member of Nitzer Ebb and responsible for the austere look and feel of this visual aspect of the band, which aimed to provoke reaction, to critique, and even to poke fun at such stern stark powerful imagery. It also perfectly reflected the uncompromising style of the group's music.
In May 1987, the group released their debut album on Mute Records (Geffen/Warner Bros. in the US), That Total Age, which spawned a hit with the pounding bass rhythms and barked vocals of "Join in the Chant" and "Let Your Body Learn." Both tracks found favour with the Euro club scene and the nascent Balearic Beat movement. In 1988, McCarthy and Harris set out to record the perfect electronic album, resulting in the group’s second album, Belief. Preceded by the classic club track "Control, I'm Here," that album was released in 1989 and was produced by Flood, who went on to produce its next three albums and remix other tracks. The band was now down to a core duo of Harris and McCarthy, with Julian Beeston on drumming duty. Two further singles, "Hearts & Minds" and "Shame," were released in 1989 with remixes from Daniel Miller and William Orbit.
Nitzer Ebb was a large influence on Detroit Techno: Derrick May publicly acknowledged this fact before the group opened 2007’s Detroit annual electronic music festival. A diverse range of DJs and producers, from Richie Hawtin (featured on Richie Hawtin’s Decks FX & 909 mix CD, on which "Let Your Body Learn" was mixed with Hawtin’s own hit "Minus Orange") to Tiga, have also acknowledged the influence that Nitzer Ebb has had on their careers. Indeed, the group’s tracks (usually in their original form) are still heard across the world's more discerning dance floors, and have been consistently listed in a wide range of DJs’ Top-10s in the dance-music magazine Mixmag.
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Nitzer Ebb alone should be responsible for hordes of DAF imitators (at this very early stage themselves included) however, the duo of Bon Harris and Douglas McCarthy (at first Dave Gooday was also a member) remain a unique language by which, unlike many after them, they had the luck to improve DAF's legacy, providing the original with a desired hardcore effect.
This very first demo cassette is typically raw and sounds too similar a flat reproduction of DAF's to be identified with any other band. However, a positive thing about it is, it continued exactly where DAF of the time left off into more disco-orientated territory . Naive, predictable but already marking bits of sliding away from the Düsseldorf's legendary twosome - McCarthy's vocals is powerful if not childish at times and alone informs the oncoming sound that fans will associate with as Nitzer Ebb's mid 80s finest 'funk aggression' examples
The demo has passable quality and remains important documentation of the nascent stages of the electronic body music scene. The sound-board recording is of equal standard and a rewarding listen for hardcore fans.
Seems like a minimum of tampering was done to the recordings themselves. The background tape-hiss is steady at around -35dB and there are a lot of artifacts throughout. The sound of the tape is satisfactory albeit it betrays a typical demo of the time, the voices, drums, dub effects and synths fight between each other respectively - among the studio tracks taken, one is significant of surviving a transfer onto vinyl ('Crane', in a slightly different version, of course) while among the standout, predominantly DAF-esque tracks, 'The Pass' is a chilling, unique example of what Nitzer Ebb would become in their later days.
Nitzer Ebb - Basic Pain Procedure (flac 374mb)
01 Faded Smiles 3:29
02 Tradition 3:47
03 The Home 2:24
04 Star 2:26
05 The Passage 3:51
06 The Book 3:33
07 Crane 2:25
08 Trust Ran In Colours 2:20
Live At CIHE, Chelmsford December 9, 1983
09 Tradition 3:44
10 The Home 2:44
11 Star 1:24
12 The Book 2:42
13 Crane 2:23
14 Violent Playground 2:44
15 A Whiter Shade Of Pale 2:08
16 Smear Body 5:04
bonus Isn't It Funny How Your Body Works EP
01 Isn't It Funny How Your Body Works 3:51
02 The Way You Live 3:58
03 Crane 2:44
04 Cold War 3:45
Nitzer Ebb - Basic Pain Procedure (ogg 113mb)
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The template for Nitzer Ebb had already been established some years earlier with D.A.F.'s thrilling, rough-yet-clean combination of dancefloor aggression, industrial noise, and lyrical imagery (and vocal stylings), suggesting a combination of fascist rally and hardcore male-bondage sex club. What the Douglas McCarthy/Bon Harris duo did on their first full album was to give it a distinctly English-language bent, as well as drawing on some of the further developments of EBM over time. If the resultant debut was a bit one-note as an overall release, the duo already showed a bent for making sure their concoctions were instantly memorable and undeniably thrilling. McCarthy's singing is less supple and more ear-piercingly harsh than Gabi Delgado's, say, but his seemingly odd quaver actually gives the band a unique stamp, delivering the slogan-like lyrics with the force of overwhelming command. Consider "Violent Playground," which could almost be a Soft Cell stomper with all the swooning romance completely pared away to leave nothing but brute homoerotic force (and appropriate volume). Harris' ear for beats and how to make them really crunch through doesn't let him down -- check out the huge, sudden metal door-slam rhythms on "Smear Body" for a particularly notable example of his ability. If there's a standout track from That Total Age, it would probably have to be "Join in the Chant," with McCarthy's clipped, elliptical words and delivery perfectly suited for the invigorating storm of drum hits and central bass part. That said, there's plenty of close competition, with the quick, frenetic surge of "Murderous," electronic bass and percussion barely in control as McCarthy roars, "Lift up your hearts!," and the equally impressive "Let Your Body Learn" with its use of vocal echo for maximum impact.
Nitzer Ebb - That Total Age (flac 347mb)
01 Fitness To Purpose 5:00
02 Violent Playground 3:46
03 Murderous 5:40
04 Smear Body 5:40
05 Join In The Chant 6:01
06 Alarm 3:55
07 Let Your Body Learn 2:47
08 Let Beauty Loose 2:24
09 Into The Large Air 4:08
10 Join In The Chant (Metal Mix) 5:13
11 Fitness To Purpose (Mix Two) 4:54
12 Murderous (Instrumental) 5:02
Nitzer Ebb - That Total Age (ogg 132mb)
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Merging the musical lexicon of the dancefloor with their own dark musings, Nitzer Ebb evokes an occasionally stunning mix of techno and industrial on their second full-length effort. At its best, Belief is a captivating call to surrender the pretensions of free will and control; escape is only possible through dance. The vocals, which alternate between athletic direction and threatening whispers, reveal an internal dialogue at work that both bullies and stalks the listener. This might make for dour dance music if the rhythms weren't so intoxicating. On tracks like "Hearts and Minds," "Control I'm Here," and "Blood Money," Nitzer Ebb builds a compelling soundtrack that exorcises their own sense of despair. In fact, this album seems to advocate the dancefloor as a surrogate religion. "Blood Money" asks us to "shed faith" in the wake of organized religion's failures, "T.W.A." suggests we "surrender to the faith" of the dancefloor, and "Shame" holds the vague promise of freedom from that original sin through dance. However, all but the most impressionable listeners are likely to recognize that the lyrics are merely a mask for pent-up aggression toward a world that can make the individual feel pitifully helpless at times. Although not as sonically powerful as bands like Ministry or Nine Inch Nails, Nitzer Ebb's Belief should appeal to the same audiences (their subsequent Showtime even more so). Favoring synthesizers and electronic percussion over guitars, the band doesn't baffle listeners with an array of sounds as Nine Inch Nails might, but they can draw from an impressive palette of effects when the muse strikes them (as on "Drive," which includes a percussive texture that could best be described as an amplifier "popping").
Nitzer Ebb - Belief (flac 304mb)
01 Hearts And Minds 3:44
02 For Fun 3:03
03 Control Im Here 3:51
04 Captivate 3:56
05 T.W.A. 4:58
06 Blood Money 4:30
07 Shame 4:01
08 Drive 5:06
09 Without Belief 4:16
10 K.I.A. (PK Mix) 4:32
11 Control I'm Here (S.D.I. Mix) 6:30
12 Without Belief (Instrumental) 4:09
Nitzer Ebb - Belief (ogg 128mb)
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Having arguably perfected their original formula on Belief -- as well as reaching its limitations -- Douglas McCarthy and Bon Harris started to experiment in a variety of different directions on Showtime, resulting in their best album. Keeping all the original D.A.F.-derived tension and approach of the group's earliest days but showing a greater facility for everything from variety in arrangements to more complex lyrics, Showtime doesn't waste a note (it's not even 40 minutes long) and aims for full attack on all fronts. It doesn't hurt that the album is bookended by two of the band's best-ever singles. "Getting Closer" captures an atmosphere of impending, imminent doom better than just about anything outside of prime Killing Joke, while the heavy synth distortion makes the track rock, all without using guitars. The way the song literally revs up alone is worth the listen. Meanwhile, "Fun to Be Had" starts with an understated, almost swinging start before transforming into a total crowd-pleaser, Harris' astonishing ear for brutally effective rhythms welded to McCarthy in full rabble-rousing mode ("You are young/They are old/Control!/Is all they got to Give!"). Elsewhere is one of electronic body music's all-time highlights, "Lightning Man." With Harris adding both oboe and horn samples to the beats, helping to create a demented atmosphere reminiscent of Foetus, McCarthy steers away from his usual slogan approach to create a portrait of a strange, demonic figure (apparently a metaphor for alcohol addiction) preying on others. The off-kilter cabaret influence crops up throughout the album, with worthy examples including "Nobody Knows," a slow bluesy crawl, while "One Man's Burden" in particular is a highlight of Harris' expanding musical reach, with subtle rhythm shifts and orchestrations showing how soft can work for impact just as well as loud.
Nitzer Ebb - Showtime (flac 355mb)
01 Getting Closer 4:12
02 Nobody Knows 4:06
03 One Mans Burden 3:50
04 All Over 3:33
05 My Heart 4:08
06 Lightning Man 4:59
07 Rope 3:25
08 Hold On 3:46
09 Fun To Be Had 4:42
bonus As Is EP
01 Family Man 3:56
02 Lovesick 4:01
03 Come Alive 6:11
04 Higher 5:50
Nitzer Ebb - Showtime (ogg 136mb)
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