Unlikely duo makes beautiful but somber music
Einstürzende Neubauten's Blixa Bargeld is appearing in Prague with Teho Teardo
Posted: September 25, 2013
Blixa Bargeld and Teho Teardo relax in the fall leaves in this promotional photo.
Every once in a while there is an unexpected pairing of talents that produces exceptional results. Germany-based singer and songwriter Blixa Bargeld teamed up with Italian electronic music composer and multi-instrumentalist Blixa Bargeld. They recorded pieces for an album called Still Smiling in studios in both Berlin and Rome over an almost two-year period. The unlikely duo is now touring with that material and will be at Prague's Pilot Klub on Sept. 28.
The result is a work of introspective art rock that is reminiscent of 1970s and '80s projects by Brian Eno. Even the cover for the album has artistic flavor, with Bargeld and Teardo wearing dunce caps and looking away from each other while trying to touch each other's index fingers. A ghostly figure looms behind them. The black-and-white image looks like something from a sideshow in the early 1900s.
But what matters most is the music. Bargeld is best-known for being a member of the group Einstürzende Neubauten and a former member of the Bad Seeds. Both bands have a bit of edge to their sound and Einstürzende Neubauten in particular is known for introducing innovative percussion instruments and other sometimes-dissonant sounds.
Teardo is more famous for his work on soundtracks, two of which have won awards in Italy. He was also a key member of the band Meathead, which toured in support of heavy metal acts including Helmet and Biohazard. Meathead has been dormant since 1997. Teardo has moved on, and in 2006, for example, he released a collaboration with Erik Friedlander based on poems by slain Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini.
When: Sept. 28 at 8 p.m.
Where: Pilot Klub, Donska 19, Prague 10
Tickets: 390 Kč
For Still Smiling, Teardo is credited with baritone guitar, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, Rhodes piano, synths, piano, percussions, electronics and programming. Bargeld also did his share. Aside from singing in three languages: English, German and Italian, he plays Hammond organ, clavichord, electric slide guitar, water percussion and glockenspiel. A string quartet also adds to the haunting quality of the songs.
The 12 songs run a range of moods, but are mostly introspective and bleak. "Come Up and See Me" is a somber almost minimalist piece, with the singer pleading to an unknown person for an occasional visit. Plaintive strings and metallic percussion are eventually broken by layered voices, which again give way to the sad refrain. The album's title track, "Still Smiling," is even more downbeat, with Bargeld recounting how he recalls the black days but is still smiling from the bottom of his shapeless soul. It is the most downbeat song of project that is singularly lacking in cheerful moments.
"Mi Scusi," sung in simple Italian, is slow paced but a bit reminiscent of some of Einstürzende Neubauten's more lyrical works like "Silence is Sexy." The singer this time apologizes for his poor Italian, among other things. "Nocturnalie," sung in German, has a very ethereal quality supported by electronic organ and a slowly building momentum.
The most haunting song from the collection is "What If …," which asks among other hypothetical questions, "What if it is just a mistake in the translation?" The song hints at the overall pointlessness of everything. There is also one cover song in the collection, "Alone With The Moon," which was originally recorded by the Tiger Lillies.
Bargeld and Teardo met to work in 2009 on a theater piece called Ingiurua, which explored he nature of curses - and the historical power of words and their symbolism. They then worked together on the song "A Quiet Life" for a soundtrack. The song was reworked into a new version for the album.
The show at Pilot Klub promises to be a downbeat and arty affair, but one that should not be missed by fans of Bargeld or anyone looking for a show that is out of the ordinary mold.
Raymond Johnston can be reached at
Tags: Blixa Bargeld, Blixa Bargeld, Einstürzende Neubauten, Tiger Lillies.