Fleisch Macht Böse
Out of Line, 2011
Jäger 90 really, really like Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaftand, and they don’t care who knows it. They shout out the electronic body music progenitors liberally in interviews and on their website and their records are unmistakably built from that band’s blueprint; 16 step sequences, kick snare drums with busy cymbal work and matter of fact (but probably sardonic) German lyrics. Hell, singer/programmer Thoralf Dietrich sang in a pseudo-official incarnation of D.A.F. for a few years mid-decade, and the anhalt or “new old school” EBM scene that Jäger 90 is affiliated with has all but deified Herrs Delgado-López and Görl. That makes assessing their new album Fleisch Macht Böse tricky. If you’re given to thinking about things like artistic intent, questions like “at what point does homage become derivative?” and “why listen to this when I could be listening to Alles is Gut?” are bound to pop up. There’s another, more pertinent question though: given that this is unabashedly trying to be a D.A.F. record, how good is at that? Pretty decent as it turns out.
Despite being flag bearers for a sound that all too frequently boils down to unsubtle muscle and hate, Jäger 90 make the surprisingly canny decision start to with the crawling mid-tempo “Stärker als du Meinst”, a stiff aperitif that confounds expectations enough to set up the more typical rigid sequencing of “Beim Ersten Mal tat`s Nicht Weh”. That opening dichotomy points to a lot of the album’s successes, and perhaps also to the failings of Jäger 90’s contemporaries; you can do one sound, even someone else’s sound so long as you do it well and throw in the occasional curve. Take for example the bassline to the uptempo “Ich Schwitze”, a ringer for the one in italo-disco classic “She Has a Way” by Bobby Orlando. It’s a rare nod to dance music outside EBM’s city walls, and acts as a rare acknowledgment of the genre’s largely ignored shared origins with techno and house. Elsewhere the fluttering bass and unsyncopated percussion of final track “Wir Gehen Unseren Weg” picks apart the elements of the songs that have come before it, making a something that sounds the same, but just feels different.
Of course, the large part of the record is made up of songs that are unabashedly built from D.A.F.’s template. Given that they’re good songs though, their slavish devotion begins to seem like a meaningless concern. Of course Jäger 90 don’t want to reinvent their chosen wheel – that would make it something other than a wheel. At most they’re looking for new ways to approach its construction. That idea speaks to Anhalt EBM’s workmanlike heart and on those terms, Fleisch Macht Böse succeeds admirably: an example of how efficient imitation can be substantial in and of itself. Far from painting themselves into a corner, Jäger 90 are finding new ways to explore their own personal (Warsaw) ghetto.