Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Holger Hiller - Ein Bündel Fäulnis In Der Grube

Holger Hiller
Ein Bündel Fäulnis In Der Grube


Released 1984 on Cherry Red
Reviewed by dave clarkson, 15/10/2004ce


Side 1:
Liebe Beamtinnen und Beamte.
Blass Schlafen Rabe...
Budapest - Bukarest.
Jonny (du Lump).
Akt Mit Feile (für A.O.)
Hosen, die Nicht Aneinander Passen.

Side 2:
Chemische und Physikalische Entdeckungen.
Mütter der Fröhlichkeit.
Ein Bündel Fäulnis in der Grube.
Das Feuer.
Ein Hoch auf das Bügeln.

Played, produced and mixed by Holger Hiller together with Jürgen Keller (bass) and Catherine Lienert (emulator).

Doyen of the german avant garde during the early 1980s, Holger Hiller was one of the orginal members of the cult group, Palais Schaumberg and was involved in many projects released on the Atatak and Zickzack labels during this time. Born in Hamburg during the late 1950s, Hiller studied improvisation under the tutorage of Lilli Friedman, who was taught herself by composer Paul Hindeman. Lilli was over seventy years old when she taught Hiller - this during the mid 1970s.

Holger Hiller first recorded and released solo music in 1979 with the 'Traneninvasion' single on Zickzack records. 'Ein Bündel Fäulnis in der Grube' (translated as 'A bunch of foulness in the pit') was his debut solo LP. Released in 1984 but recorded throughout the duration of 1983, the album was created mainly with an emulator but augmented by drums and bass guitar. It became apparent on release, that the LP was going to be a massive influence on shaping how electronic and avant garde music could be composed in future terms. Ahead of time by a mile in the pioneering use of sampling and sampling technology, the LP embodied all the qualities involved in the creation of new sound and the genre destruction of existing factions of electronic music.

Listening to this album today is still a remarkable, enlightening and rewarding experience. Every track exhibits a parallel universe where pieces are structured yet improvised, danceable yet rhythmically experimental...the whole experience sounds like the future but is steeped in early twentieth century eastern european classicalism. The opening track, 'Liebe Beamtinnen und Beamte', is defined principally by an angular driven bass guitar sequence with orchestral sampling adding to the route and taking the bass on a new journey towards the end of the piece. 'Blass Schlafen Rabe...' opens with a repeat piano figure over which Hiller recites some lyrical prose before a collection of electronic blips and squeaks inject a new freshness into the piece. This track expresses the whole musical strategy throughout the album - one which is structural yet open to change - almost sounding like improvisational blocks of music (and similar in composition to tracks on John Zorn's first Naked City albums).

One of the greatest assets to 'Ein Bündel Fäulnis in der Grube' is the fact that not one piece of music on the LP displays a 'rock'n'roll' or American' influence in any way - from the melodics to the drum patterns. Everything here is deeply rooted in european echos and sounds. This is best exemplified on the track 'Budapest - Bukarest' with the evocative voice treatments and haunting bell samples....one of the highlights of the album.

The only single from the LP was 'Jonny (du Lump)', a brilliant piece of euro disco composed of tapped edits and a stomping beat. Truly a dance floor classic that never was. The contrast of this track to the album title track is a sign of how powerful musically this record was and still is. The title track appears midway through Side 2 and displays a claustophobic, urban paranoiac production with Neubauten-like metallic segments and built up madness throughout.

Following the years after the release of 'Ein Bündel Fäulnis in der Grube', Holger Hiller would go on to live in Tokyo then London, recording along the way records including 'Oben Im Eck' (1986) and 'Little Present' (1995).

'Ein Bündel Fäulnis in der Grube' is a blistering album and one which I cannot recommend enough. The record sits nicely with Nico's 'Marble Index' in bookending a germanic generation of ambience and ethereal sound.


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