Retrospectively, one could impute Hanover of the late 1970s and early 1980s with the glamorous tristesse normally associated with places like Manchester. But it was probably just dull and nothing more. It was here that the band 39 Clocks came into existence, earning the greatest compliment one could possibly pay them: they were a foreign body. Everything about this band must have unnerved their contemporaries: The 39 Clocks did not sing in German. This, at a moment when, for the first time since the end of the Second World War, it was possible to hang a "cool" tag on the German language. Think Neue Deutsche Welle (German New Wave). Commercial suicide. And the Clocks looked like no one else: grainy black and white photographs reveal two thin men dressed in factory issue black. Wearing sunglasses, they are only dimly recognizable. Elusive and impossible to categorize: A little bit weird. Fittingly, they discarded their names and classified themselves as machines: J.G.39 and C.H.39. a sense of the unreal pervaded their music: sizzling, trippy, repetitive. Allusions to late 1960s psychedelia, to Can, are on the money. Subnarcotic is the second 39 Clocks album. It still has the capacity to unsettle, it still sounds strange. The conscious (or perhaps unconscious) refusal to flex their muscles, to feel the groove, would be echoed by many lo-fi bands a decade later, but few would match their radical modus operandi. The 39 Clocks brought together what did not belong together: noise and fragility, '60s garage punk and synthesizers. Manic, chaotic and yet: pop music. In England they would have been welcomed with open arms by the likes of Rough Trade or Factory. In Germany, however, reactions were extremely different. Mastered from the original tapes; better sound quality than the original. Includes a previously-unreleased bonus track.
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