November 08, 2004

EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN as JOHN HENRY'S REVENGE.

I have been spending considerable time thinking about this topic (yes, I need a girlfriend) and listening to the Einsturzende Neubauten 1991 MUTE RECORDS comp., "Strategies Against Architecture II". On track 9, "Kangolicht", written and performed in 1985, the heavy rasping clatter of an electric jackhammer powers this song through an angry hornet's nest of both machinery and organic instrumentation. However, in this song at least, Blixa's tortured Teutonic vocals shred the effort of this jackhammer to overpower the performance, thus creating a semi-plausible framework for this blog...

Regarding the liner notes, this song is described as "A fire song sparked on the noise of an electric jackhammer. Like fire, we regulary used such construction tools both live and in the studio. We stopped using the jackhammer when it was stolen by Copenhagen squatters in 1988, who finally restored it to its original use."

Taking a look at John Henry... IF he did expire after beating the machine, a steam-hammer/drill, is it not true that from this concept, of muscle over metal, that legend was born, symbolic of the inherent victory of man over machine? If we would fast forward some 100 years, and re-align this idea, with a seminal German experimental band, where similar machinery is used/abused as musical instrumentation, it uncovers an entirely different perspective on the legend of John Henry.

Whether or not John Henry died as a result of his exertion, he beat the machine. Einsturzende Neubauten, as both performance art and music consistently destroy such machinery, only to re-assemble it for their own purposes, i.e., providing sound, that is recorded, as physical proof of man's triumph over his mechanized creations. Where John Henry failed, in providing concrete evidence of his life, and particulary this event, Einsturzende Neubauten has been releasing albums for over 20 years. The band name itself, translated into English as "Collapsing New Buildings" is symbolic of the struggle for man to recapture his place in this world, as not a follower, but leader of machines, industry and his own existence.

Posted by MichaelSichok at November 8, 2004 11:21 PM
Comments

Mike,

John Henry did beat the steamdrill,however he died due to exhaustion. I don't know whether he would have been appreicated more, if he was alive or not. Usually, people respect and admire the tasks when the person dies. It is kind of sad to think that a person doesn't get to see his glory, until he dies first. Whether or not John Henry is a legend, I still believe it's a good story and it seems realistic to me. If it gets to be pasted down from generations to generations, then people will likely to believe it. It's just like the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Some people believe it and others don't. It depends on how the story is told.

-Nabila :)

Posted by: NabilaUddin at November 11, 2004 11:20 AM

Mike,

I have also blogged the same statement in my video game blog as well. Just wanted to let you know.

Right now, I have a PS2; however I really don't get the chance to play as much as I did when I was younger. My sisters play on it sometimes, but not as much as I did. I just love 2D games, like Mario Bros, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc. When I used to have Nintendo64, we played Mario Party for hours!! It was addictive, but so much fun. The only games that I find interesting in the mall or any other game place, would be like skee ball or basketball shoot. I really don't like to play arcade games in public, because I tend to lose my concentration.

-Nabila :)

Posted by: NabilaUddin at November 11, 2004 11:29 AM
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