for Popular Music

S[æ]itenanschläge (String/Site stops)
The KKI's Online Magazine
(since 2022)

Find of the month from the KKI archive _ September 2022

Stephan Heimbecher: "Maxell Mini-Lexikon Rock, Pop, Hip Hop & Co"
(Special edition for Maxell Germany GmbH in Meerbusch, Munich: Compact Verlag 1999)

Never judge a book by its cover. With this international proverb in mind, this time we will take a look at a small-format promotional or customer gift from the Maxell company. The company, which operates worldwide, has its headquarters in Japan and various branches abroad, including in Germany. Its product lines include batteries and storage media such as cassettes, tapes, floppy disks, video tapes, blank CDs and DVDs, as well as iPod accessories, remote controls, microphones, headphones, soundbars and beamers. Maxell is in turn a subsidiary of Hitachi, a global player and international technology conglomerate with roots in Japan.

Apparently, Maxell commissioned the German publishing house Compact Verlag before the turn of the millennium to produce an unusual gift for customers and business partners in German-speaking countries that is handy and provides facts about popular music in a condensed form. On no less than 255 pages, musicians and bands from ABBA to ZZ Top are listed and described with short entries. In between, there is concise information on musical terms, such as A Capella or Disco. Cross-references also assign individual artists to corresponding bands, e.g. Kurt Cobain to Nirvana or Steve Nicks to Fleetwood Mac.

Stylistically, the booklet delivers what it promises: It covers mainstream rock and pop from the 1960s to the 1990s and also features a few entries on hip-hop artists such as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Salt'n'Pepa, and Run D.M.C.. Particularly frequently represented are artists who dominated the charts in the 1990s. As usual in such encyclopedias, primarily US-American and British artists are presented. However, there are also entries on German musicians and formations, such as Nena, Udo Lindenberg or Die Fantastischen Vier.

Although you will come across many famous names when browsing through it, every now and then you can (re)discover some lesser-known singers or groups. Can you still remember Pat Benatar, for example? You can read about it: "Pat Benatar (Patricia Andrzejewski, * 10.1.52) started in 1975 as a cabaret performer before she switched to rock in 1978. From then on, the singer with the roughhened [sic!] voice delivered numerous hits with songs like Fire And Ice (1981), Shadows Of The Night (1982) and Love Is A Battlefield (1984)" (p. 25).

The cover of the miniature encyclopedia is a graphic disaster and not for people with impaired vision (you can only guess which band and which solo guitarist are pictured on it). In addition, the spelling of the book's title is grammatically incorrect. Also the text itself has some orthographic errors (compare the quote above) - and that although three editors are mentioned by name. A loveless appearance, then, behind which, however, is hidden an astonishingly information-dense reference book that is only two thumbs wide and high.

Find of the month from the KKI archive _ August 2022

Peter Sempel: "Nina Hagen. Punk + Glory"
(DVD, CreArtive Film, Neuer Director’s Cut 2005)

Anyone expecting a conventional music documentary in the style of a biography of a female artist will be disappointed by this self-titled "music film". The GDR-born musician Nina Hagen, who today enjoys worldwide adoration, is instead presented in avant-garde moving images. Australian-German filmmaker Peter Sempel first released his experimental "portrait in collage form" (according to the sleeve text) in 1999, and then released a new director's cut in 2005, which is the subject of this post.

The film begins by highlighting the artist's versatility. Nina Hagen sings traditional Indian ragas, Italian opera arias and French chansons. In addition to her native German, she speaks to the camera in English over long stretches. The polyglot setting is reinforced by scenes in New York, Paris, Hamburg and Delhi, to name just a few locations. Over a period of 20 years, the filmmaker has accompanied the famous eccentric, who seems to be constantly in performance mode.

She constantly grimaces, plays with the diverse expressions of her impressive vocal range, walks aimlessly back and forth, utters esoteric aphorisms like "I'm jewish-indian-buddha-voodoo" and moves lasciviously in figure-hugging outfits. The fact that she can be seen in the course of the film with black, green, blond, red, and pink hair and wigs, and that she always appears heavily made up and adorned with jewelry, underscores her permanent need for role changes and grand theatrical gestures.

Although she is observed often and for a long time in close-ups, and she seems reasonably free and unconstrained, one still has the impression of not being able to look behind her facade, that is, to actually learn little about her. It seems as if she is trapped in her neurotic image, as if she has to serve it at all costs in order to remain interesting, intangible, enraptured. Even in supposedly intimate scenes in which she gives herself away vulnerably, such as when she sits on the floor and breathes Schubert's Ave Maria unaccompanied and in a trembling voice into the darkness, her unconditional will to stage is palpable. When asked by the filmmaker what her favorite opera is, she answers laconically: "the opera of my life".

Although Nina Hagen is known for her operatic singing, she has nevertheless acquired the nimbus of the "Godmother of Punk". The title of the film seems to allude to this global fame ("Punk + Glory"). A number of stars from the international music and film world have their say in praising her. In addition to Udo Lindenberg and Otto Waalkes, for example, Wim Wenders, Anthony Kiedis (singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) or Lemmy Kilmister (frontman of Motörhead) are full of praise for the non-conformist woman, who appreciates her for her uncompromising art and her socio-political commitment.

It is striking, however, that they all mention her attractiveness. Does this possibly reveal a male view of the "feminist revolutionary" (Udo Lindenberg), not least because a man made the film? Perhaps in parts. But what remains superficial is the respect for her stage presence, her wit and her playful way of dealing with gender roles. In this respect, it is not surprising that there are also some enthusiastic comments from the transsexual community.

The film does without a genuine narrative, a red thread. It is left to the viewer to form an opinion. For example, there are some scenes in which Nina Hagen can be seen in her private home with her children Cosma Shiva and Otis. It is sometimes irritating how she poses in front of the camera while her children have to wait bored in the background. The film's aesthetic, however, is focused on brief personal impressions, enriched with landscape and street scenes, images of animals and people passing by. It's about the in-between, about transitions and the ambiguous. If one wants to make it easy, one could claim that it is just an art film. In any case, it ends with the meaningful statement of its protagonist: "I use it all as a game".

Nevertheless, one learns something about Nina Hagen that a conventional documentary would probably not have brought out in this form. Namely, how broad the spectrum of her artistic work really is; that Nina Hagen is far more than a pioneer of the punk movement. Subtle allusions to singing actresses such as Zarah Leander, Marlene Dietrich and her own mother Eva-Maria Hagen are juxtaposed with musical style references to funk, disco, rap and opera as well as to the entire history of rock. The film's minimalist soundtrack forms the sonic tapestry for many extravagant examples from Nina Hagen's musical œuvre, which are complemented by no less special musical recordings by bands such as Einstürzende Neubauten, Yello or Tulip, die singende Tulpe.

Find of the month from the KKI archive _ July 2022

"Black Europe. The Sounds and Images of Black People in Europe pre-1927",
Compilation Box, Deluxe Edition with 2 hardcover books and 45 CDs, edited by Jeffrey Green, Rainer E. Lotz & Howard Rye, with the assistance of various authors, limited edition: No. 251 of 500, Holste: Bear Family Records 2013.

Some publications cause us to shake our heads in admiration. You look at them in amazement and wonder who came up with the insane idea for such a mammoth project and then had the guts to put it into practice. Especially for whom? Who would buy such a special-interest object weighing 7 kilograms for a hefty retail price of 2,000 euros?

Respect is due first and foremost to Rainer E. Lotz, the well-known German music collector and private researcher, who, together with a number of colleagues, has compiled and evaluated a deluxe box with no less than 600 book pages (2 x 300), 1244 tracks on 45 CDs (total playing time almost 57 hours) and 2000 color illustrations (photographs, posters and film scenes). The Bremen-based record label Bear Family Records has borne the economic risk and brought out the extremely elaborately designed collectors box - and with a limited number of only 500 copies!

The target audience for this collection, compiled with ethnological subtlety, has certainly been large libraries, archives, and museums. Since all texts have been written in English, "Black Europe" is aimed at an international specialist audience from the outset.

In addition to the density of the material, the special feature of this magnificently curated box is the historical restriction to the period before 1927. The justified question of why precisely this temporal restriction is quickly answered: around 1927 the all-electric microphone was invented, with which from then on most sound recordings were made.

In terms of content, this pioneering project deals with black women and men, i.e. people with African roots, whose influence on the development of modern mass media (especially in Europe) has long been overlooked. Yet this marginalized group was instrumental in the emergence of the recording and film industries from the beginning, and was marketed on phonograph cylinders, gramophone records, and in the first films (as well as in the fledgling print media) - mostly with an exoticizing and/or eroticizing impulse. "Black Europe" uses more than 100 individual biographies to show how people of African descent shaped the beginnings of European entertainment at the turn of the century and the racist stereotypes they had to suffer.

More information about the box can be found at this link: http://black-europe.com

Find of the month from the KKI archive _ June 2022

Trilok Gurtu: "Usfret" (vinyl record, CMP Records: 1988)

The Indian-born percussionist, drummer and singer Trilok Gurtu has lived in Hamburg for many years. His musical life, however, has taken him around the globe. Countless collaborations with artists such as Angelique Kidjo, Salif Keita, Neneh Cherry, John McLaughlin, Joe Zawinul, Pat Metheny, Dave Holland and Jan Garbarek are proof of his stylistic openness.

In 1988 he released his debut record "Usfret" on the German label Creative Music Productions (CMP) Records. Here he defined his version of so-called world music for the first time. In addition to his mother Shobha Gurtu, a well-known singer of the classical Indian music tradition, big names from the jazz context who have also dealt with regional varieties of world music: e.g. the trumpeter Don Cherry, the guitarist Ralph Towner or the bassist Jonas Hellborg.

Bremen-based producer Walter Quintus had a strong influence on the record, helping to shape the recordings musically. The striking record cover and artwork was the work of Hamburg graphic designer Ulf von Kanitz, who became the CMP label's in-house graphic designer. Many (international) jazz stars such as Joachim Kühn, Christof Lauer, Dave Liebman, Richie Beirach and Cream bassist Jack Bruce have released with CMP.

Find of the month from the KKI archive _ May 2022

SCHALL. Musikmagazin, No. 17, 3 [summer] / 2019 (magazine from Berlin with 226 pages)

Music-related magazines have always been exciting media formats. Inevitably, they filter the vast number of bands and solo artists, introduce individuals, review their releases and concerts, create visual equivalents, and literally write (preliminary) music history(s). Such magazines always have to master the balancing act between art and commerce, because they are dependent on samples from music companies (primarily major labels) or advertisers, whose products they want to review as neutrally as possible and at the same time show their own artistic style or a specific aesthetic attitude. Hardly feasible, actually.

Since the market for popular music has become so incredibly large and no one can keep track of it, a segmentation has been observed for decades. In the past, music periodicals such as Rolling Stone, New Musical Express or Sounds covered a broad musical spectrum. Nowadays, things are generally different. They are mostly limited to specific musical styles or genres.

A rare exception is the magazine "SCHALL." produced in Berlin, because it appears with the impetus to represent as many areas of popular music as possible. It is no coincidence that the magazine refers to the value-free concept of sound, which describes with physical objectivity the wave-like spreading vibrations that can be perceived by the human ear. The magazine also demonstrates the courage to be non-conformist in terms of its size and the text-image ratio: a lot of text on 226 pages is truly unusual these days. Basically, one could even speak of a book or a book series, were it not for the self-titling as a music magazine.

The driving force behind it is music journalist Christian Hentschel and a team of music editors - all male, by the way. Nonetheless, women are coming into their own, whether as contributors, graphic designers, or featured musicians. So it's not a men's magazine that's primarily about masculine rock attitude - although that can also be found, for example, in articles about the bands Helloween or Michael Schenker's Fest.

Besides this gender fact, it is noticeable that a lot of German-language music is negotiated (e.g. Ulla Meinecke or Die Liga der gewöhnlichen Gentlemen). Austrian (e.g. Rainhard Fendrich or the duo Seiler und Speer) and Swiss acts (e.g. Selbstbedienung) are also highlighted. Even well-known GDR formations like the Puhdys or Stern-Combo Meisen find appreciation - and that in 2019!

Stylistically, the focus is on current rock and pop music - the seven-page cover story is devoted to the German stoner/psychedelic rock band Kadavar - but electronic dance music, punk, metal, soul, blues, jazz and even new music are also discussed. Such diversity is invigorating and allows readers to think outside the box.

The magazine was founded in 2015. In the meantime (as of June 2022), it has reached issue 26 and it is to be hoped that "SCHALL." can continue to exist for many more years in the highly competitive print media market. The website of the quarterly music magazine can be found here: https://www.schallmagazin.de

Previous Publication Projects (Selection)

Manfred Miller: Um Blues und Groove. Afroamerikanische Musik im 20. Jahrhundert, Dreieich: Heupferd Musik 2017.
The opus magnum of our institution's co-founder, who died in 2021. A large-scale narrative of the origins and developments of popular music of the past century, in which African-American protagonists and the blues are at the center. Social historiography, musical and, above all, textual analysis are intimately linked in this publication.

Ulrich Duve: "Das war eine richtige Umwälzung. Ulrich Duve, Geschäftsführer Klaus-Kuhnke-Archiv, Bremen", in: Plattenkisten. Exkursionen in die Vinylkultur", hrsg. von Jörn Morisse & Felix Gebhard, Mainz: Ventil 2015, S. 153-161.
The former and long-time director of our archive reports on the context of our institution and tells from the sewing box, especially with reference to the large record collection. The upheaval mentioned in the title of his interview contribution was the program "Roll over Beethoven" by the three archive founders, which was "one of the first radio formats in Germany that not only played pop music, but mixed it with politics and did not exclude the socio-historical background of the music". Tasteful photos from the archive are also included.

1) Ulrich Duve: "Die Datenbank des Klaus-Kuhnke-Archivs - mehr als nur ein Bestandskatalog" (S. 107-114),
2) Peter Schulze: "Die Musik kommt aus der Steckdose, aber wie kommt sie da hinein? Physische Archive in Zeiten der Entmaterialisierung von Tonträgern und öffentlichen Budgets. Fragen über Fragen" (S. 115-122),
3) Nico Thom: "Aktuelle Prozesse der Kanonbildung in multimedialen Magazinen Populärer Musik" (S. 65-82),
alle drei Beiträge in: Populäre Musik und kulturelles Gedächtnis. Geschichtsschreibung - Archiv - Internet, hrsg. von Martin Pfleiderer, Köln/Weimar/Wien: Böhlau 2011.

In his article, archive founder Peter Schulze declares physical music archives to be an indispensable back-up for the Internet and the digital age. Ulrich Duve introduces the online catalog of our archive and makes clear that it can do more than just spit out individual titles; it can also be used to create discographies. Nico Thom describes the multi-layered, multimedia canonization processes of music magazines. In this way, the first historical meeting of the three KKI members is documented, who met in 2010 at a conference in Eisenach, from which this conference volume emerged.

Ulrich Duve: "Von Johann Strauß bis zu den Sex Pistols. Das Klaus-Kuhnke-Archiv für Populäre Musik", in: Im Zentrum: Musik. Die Hochschule für Künste Bremen in der Dechanatstraße, hrsg. von der Hochschule für Künste Bremen, Bremen: Verlag H.M. Hauschild 2006, S. 122-123.
Ulrich Duve provides a compact account of our archive. The occasion for the anthology of the UA Bremen was the new building for the Department of Music in the center of the city.

Manfred Miller & Peter Schulze (Hg.): Geschichte der Popmusik (Band 2). Die Radio Bremen Sendereihe roll over beethoven, Hambergen: Bear Family Records 1998.
Perhaps the centerpiece of our publication history to date. In 1998, the two remaining authors - Klaus Kuhnke had died in the meantime - published the broadcast manuscripts of the second part of the legendary broadcast series "Roll over Beethoven", which was produced and broadcast in the eighties. The cooperation with Richard Weize or Bear Family Records resulted in a lavishly designed box with 52 CDs, which was offered for sale at the end of the nineties for a fabulous 1,000 Marks. The demand was there, anyway. To this day, it is a coveted collector's item that has made history - in both senses of the word.

DiscoGraphie, Heft 1-6 (1982-1985), hrsg. von Klaus Kuhnke & dem Archiv für Populäre Musik in Bremen.
Quasi on his own Klaus Kuhnke has published a small collection of discographies over three years. Each booklet (or each monograph, since it has an ISBN number) is 48 pages long. Kuhnke lists sound carriers, as is customary for discographies, and provides important information on record labels, release dates, matrix numbers, etc. He also provides some contextual information on individual artists or bands. Even photos and graphics can be found in the booklets. Here and there there is talk of a so-called "German National Discography"... an idea that the founders of the archive had in mind for some time, but which could only be put into practice in the end - among other things because of the death of Klaus Kuhnke a few years later.

Anschläge. Zeitschrift des Archivs für Populäre Musik in Bremen, 7 Hefte (1978-1981).
The three founders of the archive realized an ambitious publication project with their own journal, which produced seven issues in four years (four of them in the first year!). They themselves acted as editors and authors, along with other contributors. Larger and smaller contributions, interviews, text analyses, record and book reviews as well as discographies and bibliographies were published, some of them illustrated. A historical testimony for politically-moved and in the cause engaged music journalism on the border of journalism and science.

Klaus Kuhnke, Manfred Miller & Peter Schulze: Geschichte der Pop-Musik, Band 1 (bis 1947), Lilienthal/Bremen: Eres Edition & Archiv für Populäre Musik 1976.
This is a revised new edition of the already published first part of the radio series "Roll over Beethoven", which dealt with popular music up to 1947. The first edition was published by the same publisher as a loose-leaf collection. Here, the book format was chosen.

Bukka White: "Country Blues. Sparkasse in Concert", Bremen: Archiv für Populäre Musik 1975.
The three founders of the archive, in addition to magazines and books, also released records; two to be exact. This is the first record from the founding year of the archive. It features US singer/guitarist Bukka White and his traditional Mississippi blues. The musician is very elderly at this point and has been pronounced dead several times (literally!). This recording is the recording of a concert in Bremen, which was financed by the Bremer Sparkasse and recorded in cooperation with Radio Bremen. Peter Schulze acted as recording supervisor.

Wilfried Grimpe, Klaus Kuhnke, Hartmut Lück, Manfred Miller & Peter Schulze: Geschichte der Populären Musik. Band 1: Bis zum 19. Jahrhundert, Mit 48 Tonbeispielen, Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 1974.
A curiosity, this publication. With an enormous development effort, this volume was to be a six-volume book series based on a new format, the so-called "phonobook. In addition to text and pictures, a "third dimension" was to be added, namely the tones or sound. For this purpose, a small device was specially developed in Japan that made it possible to play the sound foils integrated into the book. One could simply place the device on the respective sound foil and start listening. Actually a great idea, but unfortunately much too expensive to produce. That's why the publisher stopped production shortly after the first copies were printed, even though they had presented it with a lot of pomp at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Basically, this (phono) book never reached the book market, so that the few copies that exist have become rarities.

Klaus Kuhnke, Hartmut Lück, Manfred Miller, Tom Schroeder & Peter Schulze: Roll over Beethoven. Zur Geschichte der Populären Musik, Teil 1, Lilienthal/Bremen: Edition Eres 1973.
The first publication in which - among others - all three archive founders (Kuhnke, Miller & Schulze) participated. It was based on the radio series "Roll over Beethoven" on Radio Bremen (later also on NDR and WDR). Due to the success of the radio program, which was broadcast from 1973, a loose collection of sheets with broadcast manuscripts was produced in the same year, which listeners could order from the broadcasting station.