Monday, 2 April 2018

1-A Düsseldorf - Fettleber (1999)

A few years after parting ways with his brother Klaus in 1983, Thomas Dinger started an experimental duo with visual artist Nils Kristiansen, however their first album wouldn't emerge until 1999.  Presumably, like Klaus, Thomas couldn't find a label in Germany to release his music, until Dinger-superfan Ken Matsutani and his Captain Trip Records stepped into the breach.  The band name that Thomas and Nils were using was in fact the original choice for La Düsseldorf: 1A Düsseldorf was intended, in 1975, to mean "the best Düsseldorf", until it was written down as "1a", and noting the resemblance to "la", they hit on a more appropriate name, and the rest was history for the brothers' main band.

By the 90s, Klaus was playing with la! NEU?, who were creating lengthy, freestyle jams using keyboards and guitars, but still frequently retaining recognisable song-forms.  There were no such concessions to structure on Fettleber: hazy, rattling flanged guitars, weirdo electronics and rhythms, samples and tape manipulation were 1-A Düsseldorf's MO.  Nils Kristiansen's vocals, first heard on second track Olala, are equally free-form, dreamlike mumbles, only occasionally making any sense.  The longest track, Rock, consists of rock only in the spoken instances of the title, and otherwise just lets a Kraftwerk/Tangerine Dream-like synth sequence run on.

The next pair of tracks are as strange as the album gets.  Gibsen features more free-form synths and sequences, a repeated spoken sample and other noises, and Gevogeltes adds various avian noises into the impenetrable, varispeed mix.  Fettleber does settle down at the end though, pointing to a slightly more accessible way forward in subsequent albums (with further members contributing).  The title track is based on a simple melodic guitar part, and the closing Kostprobe 3 sounds like a digital update of Kraftwerk's Tanzmusik.  All in all, an absolutely fascinating and criminally underrated part of the Dinger family album.



  1. Expectations exceeded by something I thought might sound like a watered-down La Düsseldorf, but apparently Thomas took a lesson from his brother's commercial endeavors. Really nothing like that band, more reminiscent of the experimental aspects of Neu! combined with other classic Krautrock elements. The third track is very Faust-like to my ears, while there's a definite Cluster influence on the last (without sounding like anyone's ideas were exploited). Anything else by this band would be welcome, thanks.

    1. Agree, I was pleasantly surprised by this one when I got hold of it. Much more in the krautrock tradition, as you note. Will definitely return to them (for posting) in the weeks to come.