Caspar Brötzmann is one of the most unique and innovative guitarists of the last 40 years. With his Berlin-based trio Massaker, he evolved a whole new autonomous approach to writing rock songs, starting from sounds that were widely considered ornamental if not detrimental ‘sonic waste’, such as shrieking feedback and droning overtones. This plethora of sounds were arranged into tracks to sound like breaking concrete, grinding metal, or bursting glass, at once monumental and threatening, impenetrable and hermetic, yet also archaically tender and loving.
Even today, as the art of noise has reached a level of sophistication that no one could have imagined 30 years ago, Caspar Brötzmann Massaker’s music is resoundingly singular. Ultra heavy riffs and beats, ominous tribal chants and a raw physical force is conjured up by these three sinister and proud minds of their era. Their unhinged, unified stream of energy is captured on these remastered reissues and the results are thrilling.
Koksofen (which translates as blast furnace), originally released in 1993, has become one of Massaker’s most popular albums. Like it’s predecessor, ...Schwarzen Folklore, the album took shape in Massaker’s rehearsal room below the Berlin subway station Schlesisches Tor, and was recorded at Conny Plank’s studio near Cologne, with Plank’s former associates Ingo Krauss and Bruno Gephard producing.
There’s a different kind of intensity to Koksofen. The features of Massaker’s sound are in full bloom. Mountainous noises tower up and crash down, and tormented sounds rise from ominously seething grounds, haunting the entire song-scape. The feel of doom and dread hangs heavily over the five songs, and the title song rumbles, shrieks and wails, plagued by Caspar’s guttural growls of war, suffering and death.
Caspar recalls one anecdote from shortly after the original release whereby Bassist Edu Delgado called him asking to turn on the TV, thus discovering that “Hymne“ was being used as background music to a report about the death penalty in the US. A different kind of intensity indeed.
Reflecting on the album to this day Caspar remarks “Koksofen is still a mystery to me,'' he continues “I can still feel the troubled times in these songs.” - the effects are certainly potent for the listener too. And the album undoubtedly affirms Massaker as the fiercely original and compellingly raw musicians that they are.