Grauzone ‎– Grauzone

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Tracklist

Film 2 3:33
Schlachtet! 3:22
Hinter Den Bergen 2:31
Maikäfer Flieg 4:00
Tanzbär 1:14
Marmelade Und Himbeereis 3:20
Wütendes Glas 3:21
Kälte Kriecht 3:21
Kunstgewerbe 1:07
Der Weg Zu Zweit 3:24
In Der Nacht 4:55

Versions (10)

Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
ASL-3304 Grauzone Grauzone(LP, Album) Off Course Records ASL-3304 Switzerland 1981 Sell This Version
1C 264-46 500 Grauzone Grauzone(Cass) Welt-Rekord 1C 264-46 500 Germany 1981 Sell This Version
ASL-3304 Grauzone Grauzone(LP, Album) Off Course Records ASL-3304 Switzerland 1981 Sell This Version
3408, EMC 3408, OC 062-46 500 Grauzone Grauzone(LP, Album) EMI, EMI, EMI 3408, EMC 3408, OC 062-46 500 UK 1981 Sell This Version
1C 064-46 500 Grauzone Grauzone(LP, Album) Welt-Rekord, EMI Electrola 1C 064-46 500 Europe 1981 Sell This Version
DKCD 9.01004 O Grauzone Grauzone(CD, Album) 3-Klang Records DKCD 9.01004 O Germany 1991 Sell This Version
DKCD 9.01004 O Grauzone Grauzone(CD, Album, RE) 3-Klang Records, Line Records DKCD 9.01004 O Germany 1991 Sell This Version
BASICD 040 Grauzone Grauzone(CD, Album, RE) Basic Mix BASICD 040 Spain 1991 Sell This Version
BASICLP 040 Grauzone Grauzone(LP, Album, RE) Basic Mix BASICLP 040 Spain 1991 Sell This Version
none Grauzone Grauzone(LP, Album, RE, Unofficial) Not On Label none Spain Unknown Sell This Version

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DJ_Phoney

DJ_Phoney

November 4, 2010
edited over 5 years ago
referencing Grauzone, LP, Album, ASL-3304
Sometimes it takes quite a while until a piece of art gets the recognition it deserves.
And I’m not sure if the only selftitled album by swiss band GRAUZONE gets it’s recognition now but there seems to be a bit more awareness.
The local newspaper of Bern (CH) wrote about the band in 2009 and at my recordstore there’ve been a few people requesting the availability of the LP as well as speaking of it’s importance.

Then why hasn’t the Grauzone-album been recognized for what it is back when it came out?
Well, german (as well austrian and swiss) Post-Punk & Wave had the same problem as Punk in the UK – the moment it got interesting to more than just a handful of people, the major record industry stepped up and tried to buy everybody into contract with them and put out potential hit singles.
Grauzone’s album first came out on the small swiss indie-label Off Course Records and then the offer followed to re-release the LP on EMI (what would the Pistols say?...;).
Since we’re living in a capitalist society – not that we could chose – economic decisions mostly win out over artistic issues. This circumstance killed so much art, if there’d be a graveyard for all those songs, pictures and writings it’d probably cover the surface of this planet fully.

So with the single “Eisbär” being put out on EMI the tune took off to chart success. While the reaction of the band was “anybody likes to hear Eisbär can go and buy the single but don’t bother us about it”. They consequently refused to play the song on stage and it wasn’t even included on the album.
Eventhough it should be said that “Eisbär” is a) not a bad song and b) since the lyrics arose of a nightmare by bandmember Martin Eicher it’s not even the usual lightweight pop-tune, I still kinda like the attitude of the band towards rejecting the commercial issue here.
So the original label got some money to pay off a credit they received to release records but the band had no intention to act like a major-band meanwhile.
Their stage appearance, incl. video-projections and improvisation, combined with the denial of playing the successful single resulted in a mainstream audience being interested in the band because of their hit and then disappointment when they didn’t play the tune.
And before Grauzone could’ve been totally destroyed by commercial success they called it a day. Which I like by far better than a thousand examples of bands that reached this point and continued to release spiritless material.

The term “NDW” (Neue Deutsche Welle) got pinned on almost any Rock/Pop/Punk/Wave tune with german lyrics that came out between 1979 and 1983. Some of the early NDW-stuff (bands like Mittagspause, S.Y.P.H., DAF and others) offered a creative, in the beginning indie-released and rather non-commercial sound, while later material (with acts like Frl. Menke, Spider Murphy Gang or Nena) didn’t really have anything to do with wave and radical or at least creative artistic visions.
So when all of these different artists were kinda filed under the same tag it all became an unsophisticated musical pulp for the public.
Grauzone wrote “Eisbär” and it became a hit during that period so they were forced to either join the club or leave (something similar happened to Fehlfarben with their song “Es geht voran”). And leave they did – the band broke up after only 2 years.

So what makes their self-titled album and the few other tracks they recorded before and after so outstanding?
Drummer Marco Repetto took a trip to London in 1979 and watched the evolution of punks dancing to the electronic sounds of Fad Gadget. Musically that probably was an important influence.
Grauzone were able to create a sound that was as cold as wave could get with a certain human component of despair while the rhythm (real drums [partly looped] as well as drummachines) kept going in a way that really sounded like british or New York whitebread Disco with their punk past still at hand, even an industrial vibe.
The 1982 version of “Wütendes Glas” they re-recorded as a b-side for the “Träume mit mir” 7” is a perfect example of that. One could not imagine more aloofness on a dancefloor. I play the song in my Ernest Drake DJ-set and it fits well with present tunes.
That tune really has sound aesthetics of it’s own – you can look for something alike with german vocals and not much will turn up.
Also if you check the “Swiss Wave – The Album”-compilation from 1980, Grauzone deliever by far the most sophisticated approach on the whole LP.

Additionally the lyrics of Grauzone were socio-emotional descriptions of alienation that used german language in a unique way. Not that they were the only ones doing that around the time (the first Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft and Fehlfarben-tracks were partly written in a similar way) though Grauzone were more minimalstic and sort of more dadaistic (which would be a logical connection to Zürich and switzerland because of the original Cabaret Voltaire-cafe and the first dada-sessions there).
What matters most is how effectively those words did and still do work on the listener embedded in the music.
Emotionally speaking the record still expresses a lot about how I feel and the vibe of society at the moment - compared to, for example, most average 80s chart pop albums which do not affect me much at all.

The fact that Grauzone tried to find a new way of expression by stepping away from standard guitar-dominated punk but didn’t have unlimited musical abilities made them angry. That combined with an anger about a society that’s even more stagnant seemed to have created the atmosphere for the album.

A track like “Film 2” (with vocals so unobtrusive it could almost be called an instrumental) is minmal techno/electro/disco as well as postpunk/wave and even has a touch of dub.
The synth-arpeggio (don’t really hear a bass here) sounds threatening, the beat keeps going while some percussive hits and what sounds like a harmonica are like a horrorfilm version of Jamaica-sounds. Then that guitar joins like a keyboard-motif by John Carpenter, completing the song. And rhythmically it’s just damn tight. For that matter the track’s been played by famous cosmic Disco-DJ Baldelli back in the eighties by the way.
Not many bands would chose such a tune as an opener for their full length album...

Followed by the song “Schlachtet” – one of the three best tunes on the LP.
I listened to that song recently while the tv news were on. Comments about Hartz IV (state funded poverty in germany) combined with pictures of what I see around me everyday and then lines like “Die Kranken werden geschlachtet, die Welt wird gesund” (“The sick will be butchered, the world will be well”) left quite an impression.

“Hinter den Bergen” sounds like Dark Wave with a dubby touch (a bit similar to the effect Bauhaus achieved with “Bela Lugosi’s dead”).

“Kunstgewerbe” is another cool, short & minimalistic piece of electronic music.

“Der Weg zu zweit” always reminded me of Abwärts.

„In der Nacht“ is the very abstract end of the album. Again the vocals are mixed much in the background with reverb floating around the track.

Finally a quality statement that should levae no doubt about how good the band and their album were - if you ask me; John Peel would’ve let Grauzone record a session for his show if he’d gotten the chance to know them!