LC   10292
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Cover GROB657
arbeit - MARX (10.2004)

Which musical expression actually fits the working class? Fifteen years after state-run socialism was finally discredited and in times, which – at least in the still rich Northwest – has been stamped by the culture industrial bread and game complex and the progressing deregulation of the working market?
Or to put it more precisely, which form would the great song tradition of the German worker movement – like that of Hanns Eisler, the composer, Bert Brecht, the poet, and Ernst Busch, the actor and singer, a tradition full of traditional song heritage – have to take on, in order to comment upon today’s atmosphere of decay and resignation within the workers’ movement (which really has become a movement of union bureaucrats and representatives)?
“arbeit” [in German, “work”], the Frankfurt group of Marcel Daemgen, Oliver Augst and Christoph Korn (active in Blank last year, see GROB538 and the current GROB653) asked themselves this question in the scope of a project made possible by German Radio. What has remained unredeemed of the questioning of the revolutionary workers’ movement and its aesthetic intervention? What has not worn down in the course of time via the demoralizing strategy and party development discussions? What stands for a utopian-critical content, which points beyond historical material, that lifts [aufhebt] it in all three meanings of the word [annul, lift and compensate]?
Daemgen, Augst, Korn and their guests do not deal with the material squeamishly, but rather bet on the necessary radicalism. Their music is brutish, noisy, nerve-racking and shrill, or the exact opposite of this: nearly inaudibly quiet. “The International” sounds like a pop hymn, “Off, off to fight” shudders with fear via an apocalyptic foundational tone, Franz Fanon is cited and Tony Cliff, a communist dissident. It is a matter of the construction, albeit in vain, of a better Germany, of the German Democratic Republic and of the (hidden) self doubt in all the pathos of construction. The band uses its musical means freely and souverainly. They know the improvisations, the hard rock, the new music and the Frankfurt techno of the larger discos. But never does this freedom fall into any old way. MARX is hard, but still joyful work (sic!) on the material.
The CD is called MARX – and it reminds one not of the contemporary Marx, who had little in common with the working poets in his surroundings, from Herwegh to Freiligrath, who at best appreciated Heine and Georg Weerth – who died very early – and who honored Balzac, who was of a clear and clairvoyant vision. It a matter of preserving, or rather of winning anew an equally reflective and incorruptible radical position, for which Marx and his critique upon the political economy exemplarily stands.

Oliver Augst (also on GROB538, GROB653)

Marcel Daemgen

Christoph Korn (also on GROB538, GROB653)

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