I like not being able to describe music. When you press play and then some indescribable noise emerges from the speakers to create an atmosphere that does something to you for which there are absolutely no words is when music does what it’s supposed to do. Seeing a reissue on 19 July 2019 through Southern Lord, Germany’s Caspar Brötzmann Massaker’s third and fourth albums Der Abend Der Schwarzen Folklore and Koksofen, released in 1992 and 1993 respectively, are both incredible pieces of work that lean heavily and push hard against what music and sound are “supposed to do” and create something inner- and outer-worldly that though you’d think that it shouldn’t work, makes absolute sense.
Once being described as “explosive, obstreperous, large scale, textural, timbral” with his attack asserting “the material facts of string-pickup-amplifier”, Massaker’s approach to the guitar is like no other. For him, the guitar is much more than a plank from which melody, harmony and rhythm can be pulled. Indeed, everynoise the guitar can make – those noises such as feedback, droning overtones, string noise, scratches, etc. that would be dismissed as “ornamental” – are of equal value in his sonic explorations. And this approach extends into the band. While Eduardo Delgado-Lopez’s bass rumbles beneath the noise, his low frequencies a threatening presence, Danny Arnold Lommen’s drums punctuate the textured terrains with single, searing slams, furious eruptions, or subdued and infinitely compelling tribal rhythms. Whether embroiled in a furious outburst or brooding in a droning mire of feedback or meditating on a mutilated melody, together they move as one.
1992’s Der Abend Der Schwarzen Folkloresaw Massaker move further away from the heavy rock that albums one and two, 1987’s The Tribe and 1989’s Black Axiswere loosely rooted in, and evolving into free-form noise. Here, the soundscapes are vast, slow shape-shifting slabs of sonic exploration and explosion, whereas on 1993’s Koksofenthe intensity is ramped up and there’s a distinct sense of doom and dread in the tracks. Both are incredible pieces of work and both are indescribable experiences. For those of us for whom this man’s work may well have slipped by, we are indebted to Southern Lord for reissuing them.
- Words by Jason Guest
- Caspar Brötzmann Massaker on Bandcamp
- Released through Southern Lord on 19 July 2019
- Buy these two and Massaker’s first two albums here
Der Abend Der Schwarzen Folklore:
- Schwarze folklore
- Bass totem
- War horse