Strafe F.R.

Tone 68 Strafe F.R. – ‘Shadow Position’

Vinyl + DL – 4 tracks

Release date: 22nd November 2019

The vinyl edition is now available to order

Shadow Position by Strafe F.R.

Track listing:

A1: Nachtmaschine
A2: Every Day XXL
B1: Shadow Position
B2: Isabella B.

Videos available on our youtube channel

There are 4 tracks, 4 different windows to look out from our studio in Düsseldorf into the street and their different layers of sound.

4 horizons, 4 spy holes in the door, 4 eyes and 4 shopping windows. 4 landscapes.

Witness the electric city and the power house. Strafe F.R. is sitting inside the fuse box. The electric chirp of the night. The socket in which we sleep. The dog comes, in order to devour Strafe F.R. First he eats the rebellion and next he bites the Strafe.

The house and the body, both are earthed and the veins are vibrating. Between the 3rd and the 4th hour of the morning we enter the realm of insomnia. You fly by not using an airplane.

An old woman is cleaning the door bells with her own spittle. The old man is distilling schnaps in his back garden. The swimmers are gliding through the day on top of a greasy film. The reception is a flare into seconds until it fades away into noise again. The kettle drum gives the rhythm of breathing, the bass determines the time. You stumble forward, forward into the next day.

From our window we see a public building where there exists a toilet, its porcelain shows the most beautiful craquele fissures. There is an historic poster of Lenin. It is fixed on a garden fence in the landscape and the stinging nettles grow over it softly swinging in the wind.

There are shadows but there is also brightness, this means there are complementary colours and contrasts, movements and reflection until there is stillness. We see the back-breeding of cattle in the Neanderthal age and at the same time we look into the large heating room of an art museum, where we observe tubes and their upstream pressure regulators.

All sounds and music instruments recorded by Strafe F.R. – Bernd Kastner, Siegfried M. Syniuga. ‘Shadow Position’  was mixed by Rasmus Zschoch. ‘Nachtmaschine’, ‘Every Day XXL’ and ‘Isabella B.’ were mixed by Strafe F.R. at Strafe studio in 2019 / Düsseldorf. Thanks to Detlef Klepsch for additional technical support. Female vocal by Anna Nettra.

All tracks written & performed by Strafe F.R.
Cut by Jason @ Transition
Artwork & photography by Jon Wozencroft



Strafe F.R. was founded by Bernd Kastner and Siegfried M. Syniuga in Düsseldorf in 1979. Since then they have released thirteen albums that are in the field of avant-garde music and conceptual music. The full name of this formation is Strafe Für Rebellion which means something like ‘Punishment for rebellion’.

In November 2029 Touch released Shadow Position album that consists of four tracks that in the words of a Strafe F.R. member, there are ‘4 different windows to look out from our studio in Düsseldorf into the street and their different layers of sound.’

Four tracks with four stories that conjure me up to dark cyberpunk movies. ‘Witness the electric city and the power house. Strafe F.R. is sitting inside the fuse box. The electric chirp of the night. The socket in which we sleep’, is what this formation writes in the press release.

As a backdrop we have a post-industrial sound with rhythmic beats and heavy bass drums. Along with electric lashes and abrasive chips that synthesisers reproduce. All this under a blanket of dark atmospheres and bleeps that circulate like spirals. In a line where the beats prevail with glimpses to dance is what brings the track that gives this LP its title and which comes to be the exception to the experimental character of the rest of the album. [Guillermo Escudero]

TO:110 – Strafe F.R. ‘The Bird Was Stolen’

CD – 14 tracks – 63 minutes
First edition of 500

Strafe Für Rebellion is Bernd Kastner and Siegfried M. Syniuga.
All songs recorded by Strafe F.R. in 2017 at STRAFE Studio, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Thanks to Detlef Klepsch for technical support and for helping with the mix down.

Mastered by Denis Blackham
Artwork & photography: Jon Wozencroft

Female vocal: Caterina De Re
Male vocals: Strafe F.R.

Track listing:

1.   Jovian Tempest
2.   Prepper’s Home
3.   Aconite
4.   Anophelis
5.   Cap de Barbaria
6.   Pianosmoke
7.   Flare
8.   Medusa
9.   Golden Stomach
10. Dictator
11. Himmelgeist
12. Megalitic
13. Violet Sun
14. Towton

The bird was stolen because the donkey was sleepy.

Based in Düsseldorf, Germany, Strafe F.R. is a long-term collaboration between the artists Bernd Kastner and S. M. Syniuga, which started in 1979. After a long period of hibernation, The Bird Was Stolen marks their return to Touch following four previous releases in the 80s and early 90s.

From their early connection with the local punk and new wave scene, centred around the Ratinger Hof in Düsseldorf, Strafe went on to develop a unique and influential form of sound sculpture that pioneered the use of field recordings alongside home-made instruments and the use of the studio as a performance space.

A new track, ‘Virgin’, which appeared on the recent Touch Movements CD/book, gave an early indication that they are back at the peak of their powers. The Bird Was Stolen presents 14 new compositions that push the signature sound of Strafe F.R.

1. We have a piano that is somehow completely bare-boned as if a butcher had been at work. The piano is lying on its back – we can climb into its corpse. The piano strings are easy to access and we prepare them with anything that influences a possible recording. Loudspeakers are installed. Inside the piano we play bass and guitar to use the resonance of the strings of the piano. Pianosmoke was recorded in this way.
2. Sound sources are often ‘accidents’. We were recording with our old Uher Portable Tape Recorder – all of a sudden the machine developed a strange malfunction: the Uher had problems with its engine. ‘Himmelgeist’ was born. The recorder began to ‘scratch’ like a vinyl record, but it was the recorder doing everything itself; we could also manipulate the speed with our hands. This was magnificent. Strange rhythms just happened, the tape recorder did it… We are thankful that we managed to record all of this.
3. We often amplify sounds quite loudly, that actually have a very low natural dynamic. This is interesting when recording guitar, piano and the human voice… To reduce the normal recording level by an extreme and amplify the soft, low sounds.

It all started with the eagle, Eaton, who was eating the liver of Prometheus. Prometheus was a Titan, not a god. He was teaching humans how to make fire and was punished by the gods for having done that.

Through this, the humans experienced the meaning of Strafe Für Rebellion
(in English, ‘Punishment for rebellion’). Ever since this happened, the members of SFR register peculiarities and specific incidents as an incitement to make music.

Some examples are as follows:-
When searching for new sounds inside the bowels of a piano we occasionally found the sleeping Franz Liszt. Underneath the piano pedal, the MC5 were glued. Unfortunately the mites have eaten all of our socially and critically-engaged texts.

Recently, neozea, similar to Indian parrots, fly above our streets. They are able to talk, and they scream: ‘No Guitars!’. Several foxes devoured the analogue tapes from our old tape recorder; there are Chinese mitten crabs living inside the bass drum. A bullfrog has eaten up the marsh frog population that we once recorded at a nearby airport. Large blowflies are sitting on the guest chair in our studio lounge.

The helicopters belonging to the German army are in a desperate condition. However, the poor maintenance of the machines has unleashed a fantastic new sound. The same way that Prometheus’s liver is renewed and grows again each night, happens also to the Zeitgeist. Because of this, we must continue to work on the music. We cannot stop and will never finish.

There is vanilla fudge in the coconut trees.


Musique Machine (UK):

5.5 – Veteran sound creators Strafe F.R (‘Strafe Für Rebellion’) have existed since 1979, with a sporadic release pattern. Their music exists on the boundary between industrial and musique concrete/avant-garde. The Bird Was Stolen is their first album since Sulphur Spring in 2014.  This is my first exposure to the group’s music. The album has the rapid, gestural quality of musique concrete, in the sense that there is a series of sounds in succession rather than any kind of meter.  Many brief glimpses appear and quickly go, possessing unique timbres and brief melodic ideas.  This fragmentary structure is also used in Nurse With Wound’s most haunted classic works, Homotopy to Marie or Spiral Insana, one of the closest comparisons to the sound of this album.

Generally, The Bird Was Stolen feels more live and filled with punky aggression than NWW’s solitary studio creations, and denser with sonic activity.  While there is no conventional guitar playing per se, grimy swells of amplifier distortion are used to sketch dim nocturnal and subterranean environments.  Clearly, doom metal influenced tones date this as a current creation amidst the call-backs to vintage industrial music.  Several of the tracks feature emphatic, theatrical narrations with heavy effects processing.  It is a rare, more ambient flavour of ‘power electronics’ as created by Coil.  It is not unlike some of the more abstract improvisations by Throbbing Gristle (such as ‘Kreeme Horne’); in the way it will sway and bob in marshy disrepair, movements heat-addled and lazy, only for the calm to be punctured now and again by a distorted wail.

The texture is unmistakably analogue, from the beefy low-mids of the gated noise oscillators in ‘Pianosmoke’, to the various examples of tape looping/manipulation and dub delay.  This group has been especially inventive and focused with these vintage techniques and machines.  The modular synth work has a particular visionary impact, particularly in the second half of the album with songs like ‘Medusa’.  As a huge fan of Coil and albums like Worship the Glitch, this album feels like a lost work from the past, and it’s wonderful to hear quality new music being created in this niche.

This must be one of the best ritual industrial/ambient albums I’ve ever heard.  Attention to detail and fierce, enthusiastic creativity is what sets this album apart from the rest.  These are musicians who do not release an unfinished piece of work; every crevice of this album is filled with bio-luminous micro-organisms.  Each moment is infused with meaning. Stories and events have been thoroughly layered. This recording is a symbol, a magic talisman, the perpetuation of a kind of holy tradition.  A wondrous surprise to hear such an album…

Toneshift (USA):

Long-running German duo Strafe F.R. has been at it since way back in ’79 and The Bird Was Stolen is their first recording on Touch since four releases between the 80s and early 90s. Next week (5/24) Bernd Kastner and Siegfried Michail Syniuga unveil this new album in an edition of 500 on CD (and Digital) with fourteen tracks, and a running time of just over an hour. As ‘Jovian Tempest’ opens we enter a bit of a sacred and mysterious space. What sounds like radio channeling pairs well with other frequencies and effects. It’s definitely in a grey area and I recommend that you may want to listen in the dark.

Indistinguishable field recordings of moving elements are embedded with exquisite corpse harmonies on ‘Prepper’s Home’ where rhythmic percussion rises into the mix. It’s warming and pent up until a remodelled voice emerges on Aconite accompanied by charged guitar and fiery electronics.

The album delves into areas of balmy funk and post-rock, all the while erasing any evidence of genre identification. Then comes Caterina De Re who assists with random vocalese on ‘Anophelis’ and elsewhere. Her voice is a lighter version that reads like a combo of titans Lydia Lunch and Nina Hagen. The under-the-radar, yet playful experimentation on The Bird Was Stolen has a passing tin echo like a bell tolling in various places. Instead of opting for a constant tone drone, the two fabricate shorter puzzle pieces like a classic film director shaping a plot between Cap de Barbaria and Pianosmoke. So many twists and turns here, even an alien siren call evoking ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ (yes, Spielberg) on the quirky track ‘Flare’. It’s warm and fluid, it’s awkward and expressive as spelled out Strafe Für Rebellion share about their process in a bit of stream of consciousness:

‘When searching for new sounds inside the bowels of a piano we occasionally found the sleeping Franz Liszt. Underneath the piano pedal, an MC5 sticker was glued to it. Unfortunately the mites have eaten all of our socially and critically-engaged texts.’

In this light, the tracks assign a sense of timeless references that act as both incidental music, and complete vignettes. They are in the lab concocting a better beast and delivering a formula like nothing out there right now. ‘Dictator’ is just a jaw-dropping melange, a transection of Coil, People Like Us and early Ministry without any overt pop spirit whatsoever. Take a copter beat and walk the aisles to old-school Woolworth’s background muzak, add some intermittent cartoonisms and you have ‘Himmelgeist’. They saved a bit of psychedelia for the very end in the form of a trippy guitar laden ‘Towton’. Stripping down rock n’ roll to its barest and blend with male and female vocals, contorted synths run on fumes, and there you have it. This is one of those records that traverses a lot of territory without taking stock in one camp or another, modern gypsy music with a spiritual-fluid byline. [TJ Norris]

Chain D.L.K. (USA):

Strafe F.R.’s second album since returning from a 20-year hiatus is an exercise in contradictions. Truly experimental, it provides us with 14 unique and hard-to-read environments of metallic noises, heavy filters and tape effects, heavily gated guitar and guitar-like noises, pulses and processing, then crashes into them to various degrees with percussive surprises that are sometimes harsh and unpleasant, sometimes quirky, bordering on comical. Even the press release skips from talking about vanilla fudge in coconut trees and finding Liszt sleeping inside a piano to the devoured liver of Prometheus. It’s one of those ‘really don’t know what’s going to happen next’ releases, exemplified by the sudden appearance of heavily processed vocal on ‘Aconite’ with a lyric in which the album title is found.

But among the wilful surprises, there’s a rich depth to be found here as well. Though constructed from unorthodox parts, ‘Prepper’s Home’ is a fascinating bit of electronica with a truly emotive undercurrent that suddenly breaks into almost Krupa-esque jazz rhythms in its second half. ‘Pianosmoke’, built from an experiment in playing bass and guitar sounds through a loudspeaker inside a piano in order to stimulate the resonance of the piano, ends up being a very coherent and melodic work that with the right electronica remixes would have a lot of crossover appeal, while other pieces like ‘Flare’, though built of similar stock, have a darker layout and a more spontaneous and theatrical flavour. ‘Violet Sun’ is a good example of a sparser approach, in which the processed guitar evokes feelings of some sort of alien road movie, while final track ‘Towton’ throws furthest back towards the band’s 80s roots with some very analogue, fuzzy tape flavours and Nina Hagen-ish vocal wails, right down to its abrupt halting end.

It’s an unpredictable, fresh-sounding and rich hour-long release which never drops the interest levels, and it’s certainly worthy of attention. [Stuart Bruce]

Silence and Sound (France):

Depuis maintenant presque 40 ans, Strafe F.R. (‘Strafe Für Rebellion’) composé par Bernd Kastner et Siegfried Michail Syniuga, produit une musique faite d’accidents et de manipulations sonores, où field recordings et assemblages instrumentaux forment un ensemble singulier, qui doit autant à ‘Throbbing Gristle’ qu’à Cabaret Voltaire.

The Bird Was Stolen marque le grand retour du duo qui n’avait plus rien sorti depuis 2013. Manipulant les effets et les prises de son, jouant sur l’acoustique et l’espace, Strafe F.R. nous perd dans son dédale aux résonances dub et grisaille industrielle, développant des paysages dévastés par une pandémie aux effets contaminants.

On est littéralement happé par le magma de matières traitées au vitriol, qui voit les pianos s’écorcher sur des rainures noise aux mouvements surréalistes. Les couches se multiplient et se superposent, pour donner naissance à des ambiances sombres, enchainées à des mouvements aléatoires à la complexité concentrique.

Oeuvre riche en rebondissements, The Bird Was Stolen ne s’inscrit dans aucune catégorie prédéfinie, alliant éléments classiques et traitements électroniques expérimentaux, aux allures d’ode post-punk electro acoustique, aux effluves accidentelles gorgées de sensations écorchées. Un opus ténébreux qui voit le futur se liquéfier de par ses propres maux. Captivant. [Roland Torres]

Nonpop (Germany):

Alles begann mit einem Adler, heißt es. Der aß von der Leber des Prometheus, der an eine Felswand des Kaukasus gekettet wurde, weil er den Menschen das Feuer gebracht hat – was ihm strikt verboten war … So die Legende des ersten Rebellen, dessen Strafe das Anketten war. Und schon sind wir beim Thema.

STRAFE FÜR REBELLION, beziehungsweise STRAFE F.R. heißt dieses lang bestehende Projekt aus Düsseldorf, das bereits 1979 von BERND KASTNER und SIEGFRIED M. SYNIUGA gegründet wurde. Ihre erste selbstbetitelte LP, der eine 7inch beigelegt war, erschien 1982. Viel Beachtung wurde ihr aber leider nicht zuteil. Obwohl doch die 1980er- und 1990 er-Jahre durchaus produktiv waren. Dann kam die Pause. Sie dauerte etwa zehn Jahre. Erst 2014 knüpfte STRAFE F.R. an das Musikalische der vergangenen Jahrzehnte an. Doch nun gibt es mit The Bird Was Stolen eine brandneue, auf 500 Stück limitierte und auf dem Label TOUCH herausgegebene CD.

Man merkt sofort, dass die Musik nicht – wie mittlerweile üblich – auf digitalem Weg produziert wurde. Das wurde sie nie. STRAFE F.R. nutzt keine elektronischen Musikinstrumente. Es werden ausschließlich herkömmliche oder – positiver ausgedrückt – klassische Instrumente wie Klavier, Gitarre, Bass verwendet, die dann allerdings präpariert oder zweckentfremdet eingesetzt werden. Dazu haben KASTNER und SYNIUGA, die übrigens auch als bildende Künstler tätig sind, eigene Instrumente und Geräuschmaschinen gebaut. Diese werden dann auch schon mal ins Wasser gehalten, um die so entstehenden Töne mit einem portablen Tape-Recorder aufzunehmen. Das Ganze wandert schließlich in ein Archiv. Man weiß ja nie, wann und wo ein Sound noch eingesetzt werden kann.
Beim Hören der neuen CD fallen gerade die Sounds auch ins Ohr. Sie sind gleichermaßen alt, retro und neu. Mit etwas musikhistorischem Hintergrund erinnert die Soundkulisse an die EINSTÜRZENDEN NEUBAUTEN der frühen 1980er-Jahre oder an DAS SYNTHETISCHE MISCHGEWEBE. Auch bei diesen wurden Instrumente verwendet, die zweckentfremdet zum Einsatz kamen. Auch bauten sie sich ihre eigenen Klangerzeuger, beziehungsweise wurden artfremde Geräte zu Instrumenten umfunktioniert. Allerdings war und ist die Herangehensweise dieser beispielhaft genannten Formationen bis heute höchst eigen. Und ein direkter Vergleich führt in die Sackgasse. Jedoch hilft ein indirekter dabei, sich in etwa vorstellen zu können, in welche Richtung diese Veröffentlichung zeigt.

STRAFE F.R. baut zum Beispiel auf musikalische Unfälle, die dann als Quelle für die Aufnahmen ins Spiel gebracht werden. Sie nutzen das Studio dann auch eher als eine Art Grundstück, um sich darauf auszuprobieren, oder als abschließbaren Raum, um darin ungestört Ideen umzusetzen. Sie gehen also nicht in Schwimmbäder oder unter Autobahnbrücken. Sie gehen vielmehr in Klausur.

Es entstehen durch Arbeit stark entfremdete Sounds, die nichts mehr mit der eigentlichen Klangqualität gemein haben. In The Bird Was Stolen sägen Gitarren, klappern metallisch klingende Gegenstände, wabern unzählige Fäden, die zeitlich immer weiter ausfransen. Auf ‘Pepper´s Home’ (02) etwa ein Schlagwerk, das sich wie von einer defekten Maschine gespielt anhört, die auf wundersame Weise jedoch noch den Takt halten kann. Und Flächen, die hier und da wie Schollen vom Grund und Boden abbrechen. ‘Aconite’ (03) steht ebenfalls stellvertretend für diesen speziellen STRAFE F.R.-Sound.

Dazu dann die Stimmen, die früher schon mal von eigens engagierten Opernsängern kamen und hier meist an verzerrte, nicht menschliche Stimmen erinnern. In ‘Anophelis’ (04) klingt das wie in Wasser gesungen. Dazu Störlaute, Brummen, Kratzen. Fehlfunktionen und Feldaufnahmen. Tierlaute und Klangereignisse, die ob des besonderen Ortes, an dem sie aufgenommen wurden, auch besonders klingen.

Ein 14 Titel umfassendes, ein kraftvolles und doch warm klingendes, tief atmendes Album, dessen Intensität an ein Früher erinnert, das sich selbst eingeholt hat, um alt und neu zugleich zu sein. In Anbetracht der geringen Auflage ist schnelles Zugreifen wärmstens empfohlen. [awk]

VITAL (Netherlands):

While I easily would say that I am a big fan of the Germanys Strafe F.R. (in which that F.R. stands for ‘Fur Rebellion; punishment for rebellion’) I must at the same time admit, I am not that big of a fan that I heard of their return in 2014 when they released Sulphur Spring. So when I got The Bird Was Stolen, I thought that was the first sign of life since Pianoguitar, which was released in 1995. As said I always enjoyed their music, even when these days it is not always found on my turntable. Strafe F.R. is a duo from Düsseldorf, Germany, consisting of Bernd Kästner and S.M. Syniuga and already started out in 1979. From their early no wave post punk sound, they quickly expanded into a group that was really beyond any musical boundary, with the studio being their main instrument. Their music could have the shape of a pop song, but then it is made with field recordings, tape-loops, object abuse, samples and instruments. Over the years vocals have mostly disappeared from the mix and the studio was used extensively to shape their musical phantasies. The music this results in is open, spacious, poppy and above it always tells a story, however abstract it sometimes is.

Every song is a like a small radioplay. They have fourteen of those on The Bird Was Stolen and it is not unlike a time machine. These pieces remind me of the best Strafe F.R. works, Lufthunger and Oschle, and perhaps that begs the question that after twenty or so years there has been little musical development for them, but I like the positive point: they were not yet done with their unique story telling and after a long hiatus they pick the story they started and just continued where they left off. Their approach is as varied as before. Sometimes a piece is like a fully rounded pop song (even including a bit of female vocals here and there), sometimes a bit more open and improvised in their execution, with sound effects tumbling and falling, sometimes introspective and small, but in song like Dictator it all bursts open and becomes a wild massive piece. There are soundscapes, there are more rhythmic approaches, and no instruments are spared. Maybe they can’t play them properly, but Strafe F.R. knows how to extract sounds of them and how to use them in the bigger picture of the piece. This is all an excellent return to form. [FW]

Amusio (Germany):

Was geschieht – und was nicht alles geschehen kann – wenn der Gefiederte geklaut wird, veranschaulichen Bernd Kastner und Siegfried M. Syniuga auch im annähernd vierzigsten Jahr ihrer Kollaboration. Zwar scheint ein Tanzflächenfüller nach Art von Hochofenballet (anno 1984) nicht zu den Folgen besagten Diebstahls zu gehören. Doch der geistige Elan, mit dem auf The Bird Was Stolen (Touch/Kudos) die Verwertbarkeit an sich ruinierter Instrumente oder dysfunktional orientierter Aufzeichnungstechnik abgefedert wird, mag zum neuerlichen Nestbau der Synapsen beflügeln. Die Welt ist Klang, also kann alles auf, um und in ihr zur Waffe werden. Hierzu bedarf es noch nicht einmal der Agitation im eigentlichen Sinne: Die Einengung der Strafe – für den Tatbestand der Rebellion – war ja gestern schon gestrig. Noch verblüffender als die Quellen, aus denen die Düsseldorfer schöpfen, erscheinen die Arten und Weisen, mit denen sie das forschend Elaborierte – über seine Manipulation hinaus – der endgültigen (?) Hörbarkeit überführen. Was die Lehrbücher der Mikrophonie verschweigen, verkommt bei Strafe F.R. noch längst nicht zum Jargon. Vielen Dank dafür. Wie wäre es mit einem Wohnzimmerkonzert? [Jovian Tempest]

Blow Up (Italy):

Touching Extremes (Italy):

Exactly as it happens with their bizarre and unpredictable output, several mental doors opened up when I saw that Strafe F.R. had released a new album following an extended hiatus. First came the recollection of a long-distance interview that we had carried out (via snail mail!) during my early days as a music writer, this reviewer’s half 90s rants limited to the restricted audience of an Italian quarterly. Then, the realization that nothing has changed: in fact, the same impossibility of classifying the astonishing upshots of Bernd Kastner and S. M. Syniuga’s studio wizardry accompanied the inaugural spins of The Bird Was Stolen. All of the above turned into a classic ‘OK, let’s go to work for real’ type of approach, which is the only requirement for a decent comprehension of the duo’s universe.

The name may translate as ‘punishment for rebellion’, yet Strafe’s electro-acoustic visions are never really ‘punishing’ for a listener. Rebellious, maybe – but in a subtly enticing way. The incredible diversity of situations presented in these fourteen tracks is balanced by perfect dosages of compositional seriousness and somewhat sinister humor. Standing still in one or few places is unfeasible for Kastner and Syniuga; they definitely prefer fleeting hints, occasionally synthesising vivid details and tactile timbres in a single minute’s capsule. Stylistic crystals are thoroughly shattered in about ten seconds: lunatic songs chained to odd-metered sequences, alien reverberations enhanced by awkward superimpositions of feedbacking melodies, ‘traditional’ instruments alternated with sources of unidentified origin, filtered voices uttering incomprehensible messages. You can even try and memorise short snippets of what is heard; however, that memorisation will last until the next instant.

Should someone see a similarity with today’s typical lack of logical strength and gradually shortening attention spans, that someone is completely missing the point. This set appears to be grounded on fragments of a deeper knowledge, both technical and congenital. And when one wishes to repeat the trip right after it’s finished, that’s the unmistakable sign of being in the face of artistic intelligence. Therefore it’s not a ‘welcome back’ but a ‘thanks for welcoming us back’. In the hope that, this time, Strafe F.R. are here to stay. [Massimo Ricci]

Bad Alchemy (Germany):

Sonic Seducer (Germany):

Music Map (Italy):

Dal 1979 il duo tedesco Strafe F.R. (Strafe Für Rebellion) è artefice di allucinazioni sonore che traggono linfa da uno spiccato senso della sperimentazione, che porta a dei collage di rumori controllati. Dopo una pausa dell’attività e un ritorno nel 2014, il 2018 vede la luce il nuovo lavoro The Bird Was Stolen, appena uscito per la Touch Records. E come accadeva in ‘Lufthunger’ (1991), il pianoforte viene ancora una volta rovesciato e preparato in ogni maniera che ispiri a Bernd Kastner e a S.M. Syniuga, con esito quasi da danza malata (‘Pianosmoke’). Come accade spesso nella musica sperimentale, diverse idee arrivano da un imprevisto, o da un errore creativo. Ad esempio, per la traccia ‘Himmelgeist’, alcuni rumori sono ottenuti dal registratore analogico Uher, che aveva avuto un problema. Qualunque disturbo, qualunque graffio solitamente non voluto e nascosto, qui diventa materiale centrale. L’effetto è a tratti allucinogeno, a tratti pauroso. ‘Jovian Tempest’ è una continua modulazione ondeggiante di stimoli sonori analogici e digitali mescolati. ‘Prepper’s Home’ ospita una sequenza di due note d’allarme (o di suoneria, chi può saperlo) che erano presenti anche in ‘Jovian Tempest’, creando una continuità da incubo, come quel brutto volto che non volevi rivedere in sogno, e ti si ripresenta. Ci sono anche voci umane, rese disumane, come in ‘Aconite’, dove il parlato ripete le frasi inerenti al titolo dell’Lp dietro un effetto di forte tremolo. Tra distorsioni di chitarra messe in loop e rese indistinguibili dal noise, ci sono concesse delle note di archi synth. In ‘Anophelis’ le vibrazioni più basse ottenute dal pianoforte raggiungono il subconscio, al pari di certi toni lugubri di Trent Reznor. Qui la voce di Caterina Da Re canta stralunata in mezzo a questi rumori dal timbro d’acciaio.

Dal solido si passa al gassoso (ed elettrico) in ‘Cap de Barbaria’, costituito nella prima metà da soffi ed aria quantizzata, e nella seconda metà da scosse elettriche, che scottano come le scintille di un flessibile fissate senza protezione. Dal solido al gassoso, manca lo stato liquido; ed eccolo in ‘Flare’, con rumori resi melodici (e di nuovo tornano quelle due allarmanti note udite a inizio album, che non vogliono abbandonarci, neppure in ‘Megalitic’). ‘Medusa’ invece, tramite fischi presi in prestito dai Kraftwerk e un tappeto di rapidi input, sembra rappresentare fotoni di luce che viaggiano più veloci della luce. Esperimento analogo, più lisergico, in ‘Dictator’ e ‘Violet sun’. Altre trasformazioni della materia si possono apprezzare in ‘Golden stomach’, dove le note intonate di un vibrafono vengono tenute nascoste, sotto la prevalenza dell’aspetto rumoristico. In coda all’album, ‘Towton’ ospita una batteria; anch’essa non sfuggirà alle manipolazioni del duo di scienziati pazzi. E qui torna anche Caterina Da Re, con le sue note libere (anche perché impossibili da collegare ad una qualsivoglia armonia). Il ritorno degli Strafe Für Rebellion li fa ritrovare ai propri ascoltatori pressoché immutati, nella loro costante ricerca di rumori sempre più agghiaccianti ed affascinanti. [Gilberto Ongaro]

Rockerilla (Italy):

Dark Entries (Belgium):

Strafe Für Rebellion werd in 1979 opgericht door het duo Bernd Kastner en Siegfried Michail Syniuga. Vanaf 1991 opereerden ze onder de naam Strafe F.R. Na het in 1995 verschenen ‘Pianoguitar’ verdwenen ze stilletjes van het toneel om in 2014 een onverwachte comeback te maken met ‘Sulphur Spring’. Een hernieuwde samenwerking die smaakte naar meer, want nu is er de langspeler The Bird Was Stolen. Het tweetal staat bekend om zijn persoonlijke stijl en visie wat betreft abstracte en surrealistische instrumentale muziek. Een belangrijke ontwikkeling waren en zijn de zelfgemaakte instrumenten, het aanwenden van ‘gevonden voorwerpen’ als muziek speeltuigen en een zelf opgebouwd arsenaal aan veldopnames. Je kan het zo gek niet bedenken of ze gebruiken het op de één of andere manier. Werktuigen van dienst zijn bijvoorbeeld een helemaal gestripte piano waarmee ze van alles uitproberen via onder meer luidsprekers en de resonanties van de pianosnaren. De uitwas er van kreeg als titel ‘Pianosmoke’. Of het mankement aan hun oude, draagbare Uher opnameapparaat. Het defect kreeg een functie en het resultaat noemden ze ‘Himmelgeist’. Ook vocaal wordt er op The Bird Was Stolen druk geëxperimenteerd. Naast beide heren zet ook Caterina De Re haar beste beentje voor. Onder meer in ‘Flare’, het springerige ‘Towton’ en het hitsige ‘Anophelis’. Een paar tracks zijn deels gebaseerd op klassieke muziek (‘Prepper’s Home’, ‘Megalitic’) Meest intrigerend is het pulserende ‘Dictator’ waarin heel wat van voornoemde facetten aan bod komen en tot een intens geheel worden gesmeed. Ook het cinematografische ‘Violet Sun’ en het metallische ‘Golden Stomach’ zijn nog een vermelding waard. [Paul Van de gehuchte]

Rumore (Italy):

Kryptische Botschaften aus einer dunklen Moderne sendet das Düsseldorfer Duo Strafe Für Rebellion (bzw. Strafe F.R.) seit vierzig Jahren. Sie sind seither kontinuierlich aktiv, obwohl in ihrem Veröffentlichungskatalog eine fast zwanzigjährige Pause klafft. Seit kurzem mehren sich die Lebenszeichen jedoch wieder und mit The Bird Was Stolen (Touch) geben sie nach all der verlorenen Zeit ein ziemlich definitives Statement ab, dass die verschiedenen Phasen ihres experimentellen und jegliche Formatierung scheuenden Wirkens Revue passieren lässt und nahtlos weiterführt. Das Album sammelt vorwiegend filmisch dräuenden Dark Ambient mit aggressiven und disruptiven Sounds, aber auch avantgardistische Sound-Collagen mit eingefrorenen Industrial-Beats und -Dubs.

Blow Up (Italy):

Kathodik (Italy):

Attivo dal 1979 (con una pausa produttiva da metà anni novanta sino al 2014), il duo Strafe F. R. (abbreviazione del più esteso Strafe Für Rebellion) formato da Bernd Kastner e Sigfried Michail Syniuga, torna a farsi sentire con quest’ottimo The Bird Was Stolen che segue il loro ritorno sulle scene ‘Sulphur Spring’.

Un suono alieno di questi tempi, che raschia e ingloba ruggini, lamiere, distorsioni, voci e vocine (spappolate, tritate e stirate), ritmi sghembi e strumentazione homemade, fiati e sfiati, corde in azione trasfigurante, registrazioni d’ambiente, nastri e un certosino lavoro di taglia e cuci in fase post.

Materia ondivaga che inquieta e non s’addomestica come carta da parati acustica.
Ci sono parecchie nevrosi urbane diluite su sfondo/collage ballardiano in The Bird Was Stolen. Stridenti rotative ingrippate/dialoganti e notevoli intestardimenti ritmici.
Apron delle porte che probabilmente non interesseranno più a molti, ma attenzione, perché il colpo d’occhio offerto, è unico nel suo genere (quasi da sacred music tipo Factrix per intenderci, ma con minor tasso ansiogeno).
Aggiungo soltanto: daje!

The Sound Projector (UK):

Dusseldorf combo Strafe Für Rebellion started life in the late 1970’s as the duo of Bernd Kastner and Siegfried Michail Syniuga, who made a series of records under that name for Soleilmoon, Staalplaat, and Touch. I never studied any of their 1980’s –1990’s work, but I’m getting the impression it was mostly voice/text based cut-up work, heavy on the distortion, and with something of an ‘industrial’ undercurrent. There’s certainly something a tad foreboding about a record called A Soundless Message of Death, but that was in 1984 when such weighty matters were occupying the minds of many neurotics.

They’re here today in a new-ish incarnation, appearing as Strafe F.R., and joining forces with a female vocalist named Caterina De Re. On The Bird Was Stolen (TOUCH TO:110), their first release since their 2014 ‘comeback’ album Sulphur Spring, you can enjoy 14 examples of their studio craft. Evidently they have become highly proficient with digital technique and evolved their edgy, alarming musique-concrète style into the area of avant-techno and deep-dark ambient, all undertaken on their own highly individual terms of course, to produce some deeply ugly and unsettling abstract noise episodes. The voice elements are distorted and transmutated into all sorts of new and terrifying shapes, extreme enough to give Henri Chopin permanent cardiac arrest; in places it’s only barely possible to recognise a human being’s larynx at work.

The more alarming cuts are front-loaded at the start of the CD; ‘Aconite’ for instance, is like hearing absurdist poetry recited by merciless robots from the future, while on ‘Anophleis’, the voice of Caterina De Re is remade by extreme studio digital-malarkey into some grotesque evil hybrid of Bjork and Clare Grogan, swimming for dear life in a vat of green acid. Other tracks, like the highly evocative ‘Golden Stomach’, seem to downplay the voice components in favour of contemporary industrial noise-experimentation, scads of digital delay and reverb, and mysterious instrumental passages floating in among the heavy hammer-blows of percussive sounds. So far this is like an update on H.N.A.S. – it’s got the same streak of cruelty and sardonic absurdity, and a Dadaist touch of mischief that makes the creators want to poison every sound they touch, infecting it with unnatural cancers and shape-shifting properties.

This strong meat will take a bit of digesting; better line your own ‘Golden Stomach’ before you partake, but it’s superbly crafted and I have a feeling it’s possible to acquire a taste for it. [Ed Pinsent]