Various Artists – Rat Life 2

rat life
At what stage does fact become stranger than fiction? On this second Rat Life release, it seems that the truth is hard to believe. According to Rat Life, the recently launched sublabel from the Dresden collective that spawned the Uncanny Valley label, “Wir Sind Soldaten” (we are soldiers) is the work of Neue Wohnkultur. Autonervous meanwhile, is a contemporary act whose “Enfant Terrible” is brutalised into bassy techno form by Mick Wills.

Various Artists - Rat Life 2
Artist
Various Artists
Title
Rat Life 2
Label
Rat Life Records
Format
12"
Buy vinyl

But back to Neue Wohnkultur; according to Rat Life, this 80s group was formed by young men who wanted to avoid military service and who moved to “the island of west Berlin” and bought a drum machine. It is true that the American-occupied section of the city was a place of refuge for young Germans to escape from military service during the 70s and 80s. Avoiding the army or any military organisation was a profound political statement during the Cold War and it seems that Neue Wohnkultur wanted to articulate their opposition in a musical format.

“Soldaten” is a lo-fi new wave/synth track, characterised by primitive drums, a grubby bassline and cheap FX – including the sound of police sirens and computer game squiggles. It also features vocals chanting the title track, some hard to understand text and the questionable use of the ‘heil’ chant – possibly a misguided attempt to reinforce the anti-authoritarian message at the heart of the song. There has been some modern-day work carried out on “Soldaten” by M.o.m.O. whose only other production credit was on Nation’s 2011 compilation, The Modern Electronic Element Serie 2.

The overall sound will resonate with those who are embracing the new wave of techno/new wave proffered by Powell and Silent Servant. It will also act as a further enticement for anyone interested in the early 80s post-punk period and it appears that Neue Wohnkultur released two tracks on tape compilations released on obscure German labels during the early to mid-80s. Nonetheless, “Soldaten” is a stark reminder of the strong and vocal ant-war opposition to the political establishment across Europe during the early to mid-80s. Lamentably, the majority of dissent nowadays is being articulated by the emergence of far-right parties.

Richard Brophy

Tracklisting:

A1. Neue Wohnkultur – Wir sind Soldaten (M.o.m.o. CUT IT)
B1. Autonervous – Enfant Terrible (M.W. Cut)

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