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Die Partei: La Freiheit Des Geistes (Bureau B)

Bureau B digs deep into the archives of obscurity for this reissue of Die Partei’s one and only album from 1981. The project was a one-off collaboration between Tom Dokoupil (Siluetes 61, The Wirtschaftswunder) and artist and musician Walter Dahn (Die Hornissen). Dahn put in time as one of Joseph Beuys’ star pupils, collaborated with Dokoupil’s brother Georg in the Mülheimer Freiheit art group, and was a part of the Cologne music scene that included Can. The two evolved Die Partei relatively spontaneously at Dokoupil’s Studio 61, creating and recording the entire album in a single weekend. It’s all instrumental without a few samples of films adding a vocal element. The sound is hard to describe, because the mood veers all over the place, but it’s largely electronic with scritchy guitar with intermittent samples, brass, and reeds, touching on some of the strange funk of DAF (when they were still more of a band) but without the vocalized sense of authority. Still, the album is loaded with political references and puns, down to the album name (“La Freedom of the Spirit,” translated, an odd pairing of German and French) and the project name; Die Partei was often the way Nazis referred to their own political party (as in “the one and only party”). The most obvious contemporary would be Der Plan probably, but there is a fun sense of joy to some of these tracks that is likely to catch listeners off-guard, particularly the limber spryness of “Wo Sine Sie” or the infectious bounce of “Austauschprogramm.”

It’s an album of unusual contrasts, often shifting focus from one track to the next, entirely by design; according to the press release, the duo deliberately adhered to hard contrasts across these tracks (good/evil, beautiful/ugly, fast/slow, right/left politics).

Thus there is a very explicit feeling of twisting and turning through the album’s tracks, resulting in such odd juxtapositions as the almost stately elegy of “Allerheiligen” and the Teutonic nervousness of “Tage an der Grenze.” It’s an odd yet rather satisfying nugget of music from this sometimes confusing period of electronic and pop music in flux. Elements of German new wave, industrial, early electro (in the Kraftwerkian sense), leftfield pop, funk, and more all collide in style. Well worth a listen for anyone interested in genuinely unique sounds from music’s sprawling and tattered history.

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