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Slow Songs For Fast Hearts: Ok, you've seen the videos...

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Ok, you've seen the videos...

and now here’s the shit on Malaria!.

What do you mean you haven’t seen the videos? Scroll down and watch them then!

Malaria! are my favourite band of the year. I discovered them on the Girl Monster compilation put together by Chicks on Speed, and otherwise may never have heard of them, even though they were clearly influential to many bands including Chicks on Speed who covered a song by them. Sometimes it’s difficult to find out about European punk and post punk bands though, so much of the information we get in NZ is about UK and US bands. Frustrating, as there are many amazing bands from other countries that I fear are passing me by!

Malaria! begain when I was two, in 1981. Formed somewhere in Berlin by Gudrun Gut and Bettina Koster, previously in Mania D, Malaria! have been described as art-rock, but don’t let that put you off.

They soon recruited Manon Duursma, Christine Hahn and Susanne Kuhnke and began spreading their brand of dark, mesmerising, pre-goth, postpunk – ok fine – art-rock, in various shady german venues. (One imagines when you listen to their music, some kind of smoky, dark-lit place, people foggy eyed and enchanted – you know, all that romantic Berlin in the early 80s stuff. Actually, according to singer Bettina Koster, German’s didn’t really get into them til they’d toured the States and London).

They toured the US with luminaries such as the Birthday Party, John Cale, and the indomitable Nina Hagen at Studio 54. According to their website , their tour in the US was the first to introduce the New German music.

Malaria! ended in around 1985, with the members going on to do other things. But I bought their album “Compiled 1981-1984” last year, and have played it at least once a week since then. Favourite song? “Kaltes Klares Wasser”. It’s the most famous single, and the one that Chicks on Speed covered, but fuck, it’s fucking amazing. From the first threatening drum beats, to the flat and yet almost desperate sounding repetitive vocals, this song is creepy and addictive. The album is consistenly great, other highlights being “Geh Duschen”, “Your Turn to Run” (featured on Girl Monster), “Geld/Money”, “You”, and pretty much all of them honestly, so just go get the album and listen.

To be honest, Malaria! (as you may have noticed from the videos) is one of those bands that in todays post-post-ironic world you could view with a measure of skepticism – they’re so very serious!! But if you forgo those ironic thoughts, and picture yourself in Berlin in the 80s, or in your kitchen in Auckland in 2007 having just drunk whiskey and turned the lights off, Malaria! is the soundtrack to your life. Forget Bauhaus and Joy Division, this is where it’s at.

Here’s a recent interview with singer Bettina Koster from lesbian magazine “Girls Like Us”.

Posted Apr 12, 10:18 PM | By Melissa |
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