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BLOODSTAR- Exterminator 666 does not answer, c/w Hyperspace 10″ (Red Decibel, USA, 1991)

IMG_0480IMG_0478IMG_0479IMG_0476When I listen to a record like this, I can’t help but thinking I might have missed something during the 90s. When the 80s came to an early end, a lot of people felt disorientated musically. I still cannot oversee the whole transformation that was taking place, but one of the key words was definitely “digital revolution”. Late 70s and early 80s bands often were possessed by computers in a way which I now find rather old-fashioned. Computers were part of a technology of rule. The Pentagon had huge computers, we all believed, that could be used to spy us out, tap our phones, observe every our step, wherever we are. These computers had big, long arms or rather eyes stretched out, up into the orbit of the planet – satellites. It was like a web, that kind of paranoia, that wove together different techniques to a unified world view. In the center of the web, the attercop sat, the spider that symbolized the state, the brain of the ruling powers.
Well. When this 10″ by Switzerland’s BLOODSTAR came out, I was somehow puzzled by it. For me, with the dominating Metal and Punk background, this form of celebrating computer aesthetics was new and provocative as it was stripped down to, well – to what? Gone were the paranoid chants, gone was the political aspect, the ideological core. BLOODSTAR (and of course, there were many other groups with them) made use of the computer theme in a new way. They used it, rather than being used by it. I’m not saying that this change of cultural practices around the computer-dispositivs took off from here, it’s just that this marks one of the first moments in which I personally realized that something had drastically changed.

wohlgroth_largeThe music reflects this. Techno was becoming bigger, especially in the left. In 1991, the “Wohlgroth”, a big squat right in the middle of the city, had become an incredible magnet for all kind of (self-) expression. [The picture shows its famous view from the main station. The official railway sign of Zürich was adapted and redone, much larger than the original one and “Zürich” became “Zureich” (“Too rich”)].The folks from BLOODSTAR were affected by it too, although I’m not sure to which extent really. Hundreds of people started to build up a large scene there, with more and more houses around the abandoned industrial complex being squatted. Houses were connected with airy bridges – it was surreal. The outside of these houses were slowly beginning to transform too – everything was not only wildly scribbled with graffiti, it was a huge change of design. And, with those bridges, with different party rooms for different sub-scenes, the Wolgroth began to make a concept of having none. Soon every house looked different as the people who frequented the Wohlgroth were ragtag. Some people, me included, who spent time there, tried to instrumentalize the folks, put them back on track for our dubious political ideologies. We held movie nights there, discussions about racism and capitalism – you get the vibe, I’m sure. It just wasn’t that sexy – few and fewer people followed our slogans. Parallel, the first techno discos were being organized (and being attacked with tear gas grenades not by the police but by the political activists). You see, the whole thing just totally fell apart. There was no wholesome concept: It was, in a way, pure cultural anarchy. Or better yet: The center of the city had become a laboratory (and historians often describe the 19th century Switzerland as “political laboratory” for Europe, with new forms of direct democracy, a new form of self-government).
Needless to say I did not feel comfortable at all. The cacaphony I saw there was terrifying. It seemed to endanger our phantasies of power, correctness, control. We were the Stalinists (and anarchists sometimes are the worst Stalinists!).
It’s a shame, I often think looking back, I could not wander through these sites with an open mind, because that special kind of fresh air is something I really miss these days. When after ca. 2 years the Wohlgroth got evicted with massive police force, a few short and hefty riots broke out. These riots, unlike others, just collapsed into themselves. I recently discussed it with a fellow researcher who memorizes the same events of just complete out of control rioting and a strange cold aura that followed every brick and fire bomb. Nobody could escape from it any longer: The squatter movement, the once quite rigid underground – culture had vanished as the Eastern Block now was but a bad dream.

BLOODSTAR “embodied” this change to a certain degree. At least for me and at least in retrospect. Not so much with the lyrical content and the musical effect (which to me, to put it simple, is just “apocalyptic”). I loathed this 10″ when it came out. How could they be so “modern”, I thought, how could they celebrate the aesthetics of “techno” (which, as you may have understood now, was  of a rather phantasmagorical sort) so uncritically? Now, 18 years after its release, it’s quite obvious that this band just was so much cleverer than I was. The two tracks, along with the great artwork, totally floored me when I first played it just the other week – the first time since its original release! How fucking apocalyptic does this sound and how fresh. Maybe it didn’t have to end in re-enactment and nostalgia, maybe there would have been a way to culturally cope with the great transformation. These doors are closed now. Highest time the air gets filled with the exciting odor of dynamite again ….
It’s really about highest time too that BLOODSTAR get the recognition these guys deserve. More Bloodstar here and here.

Exterminator 666 does not answer.mp3