Sunday, November 4, 2007

Propaganda presents the Nine Lives of Dr. Mabuse

group: Propaganda
record: Propaganda Present the Nine Lives of Dr. Mabuse
label: ZTT (12 ZTAS12)
year: 1984
format: stereo 45 rpm

Let it be said I never would have considered myself a big fan of synthpop. But my tastes would seem to defy that statement. Replaying this Propaganda 12" (for the first time in maybe 20 years), reminds me of how much fun some of this could be; especially as done by Trevor Horn and the short, shooting star existence of the ZTT label. At the time, Art of Noise was completely unique and one of the oddities of my record collection is that I never bought any of their records. I cannot explain that. However, I do own a Frankie Goes To Hollywood album that I enjoyed.

Who else in the good synthpop category? There's the Human League, Yello, Yaz/Yazoo, Thomas Dolby, Soft Cell, and Bronski Beat kicks all kinds of ass. Done well, this music was imminently listenable and danceable. A nice change from some of the extreme nihilism of the punk side of the recod store.

I'm not sure if Propaganda deserves to be in the pantheon of synthpop--kinda hard to say as these two sides are all I've ever heard from them. It does have an epic quality about it that I think holds up fairly well. Sure, it has a heavy Giorgio Moroder quality that though this clearly puts it in the mid-1980s, I don't think makes it sound too outdated.

I found one review that repeats a claim of Propaganda being: "Abba from Hell." I don't hear that at all. I think NME's Chris Bohn said it most accurately, "The children of Fritz Lang and Giorgio Moroder." Of course I agree, I said half of that. I found that quote in Simon Reynold's Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-84. He devotes an entire chapter to ZTT, Art of Noise, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Here's what he had to say about Propaganda:
The third ZTT release, Propaganda Present the Nine Lives of Dr. Mabuse by the Dusseldorf group Propaganda, represented the next stage in this master plan of raiding the (early, European) twentieth century. "The children of Fritz Lang and Giorgio Moroder" is how NME's Chris Bohn tagged Propaganda. Inspired by Lang's expressionist trilogy of movies about a shadowy master criminal, "Dr. Mabuse" was epic Eurodisco, for which Horn and engineer Steve Lipson constructed a monumental edifice of arching synths and percussion as imposing as marble colonnades. Propaganda's conceptualist, Ralf Dorper, justified this "very bombastic sound" to ZigZag. "The character Mabuse was symbolizing something extraordinary, something more or less unreal, so we had to have an unreal production." Formerly in metal-bashing pioneers Die Krupps, Dorper was a fanatic cinephile who preferred movies to music. "Cinema is much more inspirational to me," he declared. "It's much more multi-leveled: you have to have a storyline, a setting, a soundtrack."

  2. FEMME FATALE (The Woman With The Orchid) and 3. (the ninth life of...) DR. MABUSE

Liner Notes

"the discovery of truth is prevented most effectively, not by the false appearance things present and which mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by prejudice opinion, by prejudice, which as a pseudo a priori stands in the path of truth and is then like a contrary wind driving a ship away from land, so that sail and rudder labour in vain."

dance and crime: the nine lives of dr. mabuse, presented, prevented and presumed by propaganda.

the third and fourth side
2. FEMME FATALE (The Woman With The Orchid)
3. (the ninth life of...) DR. MABUSE

"every general truth is related to specific truths as gold is to silver, inasmuch as it can be converted into a considerable number of specific truths which follow from it in the same way as a gold coin can be converted into small change."

Propaganda: noise and girls come out to play. NOISE: ralf dörper andreas thein. GIRLS: claudia brüchen suzanne freytag. BEHIND THE SCENES: michael mertens. BEHIND THE SCREENS: ( : michael wertz.

TREVOR HORN produced the nine lives of Dr Mabuse. ANTON CORBIJN photographed the group and painted the hand. XL and ZTT made up the sleeve. the first and second side are obtainable as ZTAS 2: a seven inch. the first, second, third and fourth side of the story make up number two in zanf tuum tumb's bold action series. "Viva muchos anos!"

recorded at sar, west eleven. dr. mabuse visual: ZTIS 107. help from arthur scho[enhauer and maurice ravel, from a to b; aphorism to bolero, artist to beekeeper. further information about propaganda and all other zang tuum tumb lies is available from ZTT Records, The ZTT Building, 8-10 Basing St. London West Eleven. Enclose s.a.e. and hope. The next propaganda single is 'Duel'

"not the least of the torments which plague our existence is the constant pressure of time, which never lets us so much as draw breath but pursues us all like a taskmaster with a whip. it ceases to persecute only him it has delivered over to boredom.

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