Artist: Genetic druGs
Title: Echoes of Berlin’s Cold War (An anthology of tracks created between 1981-1989)
Label: Pharma Tunes
CD Review by Dawoud Kringle
A frightening melange of noise and military sounds, arrayed in a brilliantly executed series of loops, assaults those who listen to the first track, “Cosmic Dust.” Soon, a beat emerges and forms an inviting backdrop over which paints a picture of Cold War era Eastern Europe.
Produced by Genetic druGs, Echoes of Berlin’s Cold War is an impressive offering of unique sound collages.
In the 70’s, Genetic druGs met Paul McCartney in his home studio in Campbeltown, Scotland. McCartney showed him how to operate a 16-track recording machine. After this meeting, Genetic druGs moved to Berlin, where he built a home studio – which included a Panasonic DR48 short wave receiver. Because his first apartment was close to the Tempelhof airport in Berlin, airport radar caused short noise spots to appear on all his recordings. He decided to use this to artistic effect.
Genetic druG’s first demo “Some Tracks Before,” released in 1981 introduced his work to Berlin’s underground music scene. He utilized recordings he got from the Soviet/American programme of Radio Moscow, East Germany’s Radio Berlin International (the voice of the German Democratic Republik) and the special frequencies where the East German secret service Stasi (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit – MfS) broadcasted secret number codes for their spies in various languages. These recordings became a foundation for his tape archive, serving as a source of inspiration for his electronic music as well as a documentation of obscure voices of the Cold War time in West Berlin. The resulting archive became a political documentation of Glasnost, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the revolutions in Poland and Romania.
These recordings formed the artistic foundation for his releases Eligio’s Hallucinogenetic Plans, Genetic Plans, The Mysterious Phenomenon of Human Languages, and Worldradio. In 1986, the Senate of Berlin awarded him the Berlin Rock Award.
“Echoes of Berlin’s Cold War” is a collection of Genetic druGs’ favorite tracks he created between 1981 and 1989. The music has a hallucinatory quality to it, and evokes images of east European struggle between democracy and communism. There is a subtext of survivalism and cold practicality woven into the aggressive collages of sound and musical elements. Synth sounds ranging from the dreamy to the nightmarish are expertly woven into this dense and ever changing tapestry of sound.
Whether you like this music (or more specifically, sound art) or not, it’s clear that Genetic druGs is a talented, imaginative, and innovative producer. There is never a moment in this collection where the listener isn’t challenged with an ever changing and dynamic soundscape. The production is impressive by any standards; despite it’s comparatively low tech origins, Genetic druGs’ creativity transcends these limitations as if they never existed. And the tracks immerse the listener into a culture and historical period that reshaped the course of human history forever. All in all, “Echoes of Berlin’s Cold War” is a fascinating work.