Somewhere between Vienna and Berlin some freak fusion of artschool procedural punk, pin sharp drumming, bass roll and re-animated Zappa-isms has spawned a hot new sound, this is Erste Stufe Haifisch, welcome to the Unbewusst.
Erste Stufe Haifisch’s eponymous debut lurches wilfully between time signatures, themes and structures, complexity and simplicity without ever sounding too forced. In the mode of James Chance or Ubu, rather than more beardy comparisons, they are unafraid to wig out, sloppy enough to enjoy it and tight enough to know when to stop.
Ada Lovelace, inventor of the difference engine, clearly something of a heroine for the fish, gets a song dedicated to her while elsewhere spazzing out in a helter skelter of no-brain math riffs and shouted choruses, Cat People has Plavcak leading the band with a chorus of “DO MY OWN THINKING”. Distance creates desire boasts a treated vocal and Die Kinder devolves into a tangle of guitar strings before returning to the chorus.
Technique in music is nothing without conviction and sometimes Erste Stufe Haifisch’s best riffs are their dumbest, herky-jerkiest moments. Straying too long from 4/4 can get wearing on the listener but this is a wonky machine driven by Plavcak’s voice and lyrics. Ghosts even manages pathos, “Every year more ghosts. They don’t wait like me for things to happen” whilst Bonnie and Clyde, no relation to Gainsbourg, proposes altogether more violent and appropriate imagery, “FUCK BULLETS” indeed.
If that doesn’t already sound like more enough there are also songs about neutrinos and locusts, Entomopters (Google it) and an uncomfortably Freudian encounter with Opa. If this is the first stage of sharks it can only lead to frightening and yet strangely funky things.