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T. Raumschmiere - The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle

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Artist: T. Raumschmiere

Album: The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle

Label: Shitkatapult

Review date: Nov. 11, 2002

“Perhaps no act evoked punk rock more effectively than Marco Haas, the Berlin-based electronic producer who performs as T. Raumschmiere. At an unsanctioned CMJ event called "We Sold Our Souls for Minimal Techno," he played a raucous 2 a.m. set, mixing concussive beats with fuzzy blocks of sound that resembled power chords. He jumped around so violently that audience members had to prevent him from knocking his equipment to the ground.”The New York Times

It’s not often the New York Times finds room for German electronica in its Arts section, but with all the noise T. Raumschmiere is generating, it’s pretty hard to ignore him. First, there’s the volume. In stark, block lettering, the sleeve notes of The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle instruct “MAXIMUM VOLUME RECOMMENDED”. Most systems, unfortunately, cannot handle Raumschmiere turned up to 11. Most earphones will short out instantaneously, as will most factory-installed car stereos. As if to demonstrate the monstrous magnitude of his sound, T. Raumschmiere managed to blow the speakers at Baktun, a multi-media lounge on 14th Street in New York whose slogan is “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.” Apparently, there’s nothing like an angry young Kraut with a laptop to upend slick NYC braggadocio.

T. Raumschmiere’s faux-militia persona fits these tumultuous times. While G.W. Bush makes serious faces into the camera, threatening World War III if Iraq fails to dissolve itself and hand over all its oil, enemies and constituents alike chuckle at the unknowing absurdity of a man upstaging caricature. T. Raumschmiere’s performances work in a similar fashion, only his buffoonery is intentional self-parody. His live show attire consists of macho wifebeaters, camouflage pants and big black boots, which complement his skinny, tattoo-ridden frame. He screams epithets at the audience and the speakers in an over-the-top manner, flipping off anyone in his periphery, two fingers in the air, anarchy style. All the while, atomic bass sends shudders through the building’s foundation. It’s all quite hilarious, but undeniably inspiring.

The album does it’s best to imitate the T. Raumschmiere experience. The brown-on-brown artwork features a pissed-off bloke on the cover, fingers frozen forever in anarchy. Large block stenciling hints at the immensity within, while scribbles like “Stay Anti!” reinforce the political insinuations. The overall effect is quite striking and makes for one of the most eye-catching designs this year.

And the music. Stripped-down, overblown blasts of sonic disobedience. The eight tracks on The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle (a title fittingly stolen from the Sex Pistol’s sophomore LP) come from various 12”’s on Kompakt, Shitkatapult and WMF, but still work marvelously as an album. Raumschmiere shelves dexterity in favor of minimalist structures and turns up each component to ungodly levels. The title track sounds at times like a steamroller in fifth-gear speeding through a minefield, setting off a methodical assault on the senses. “Bow Down Big Man to Get Your Credit, I Watch Your System and Spit Right at it,” a finalist for song title of the year, ups the tempo, meshing a happy hardcore melody with Shaolin sword effects to create killer dancefloor fodder. Bass grinds mechanical throughout the songs on Swindle, while an assortment of clicks and cuts form seductive, ominous overtones to keep things slightly unpredictable.

This techno-anarchy never exceeds Raumschmiere’s populist grasp, however; the compositions avoid the chaotic junglist mentality of Digital Hardcore artists like Alec Empire or DJ Scud, and in a sense, maintain the original aesthetic of punk music. Raumschmiere’s beats thrive on simplicity, accessibility and grit with no intention of highbrow satisfaction, and this dismissal of the cerebral fits his political guise perfectly. The glorious stoopidity of his stage act may be comical, but there’s no NutraSweet in Raumschmiere’s recipe – it’s 100 percent blood, sweat and gears.

Political posturing aside, The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle represents a massively successful “Fuck-U” to the IDM aristocracy and stands as one of 2002’s best riot acts. Techno for the malcontent in all of us, T. Raumschmiere showcases the pleasure possible when you add a little guerilla to the mix.

By Otis Hart

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