Official holidays played a role in the short but tumultuous life of the East Berlin Impro-Punk band Klick & Aus, beginning with Walpurgis Night in 1983 when two members of the band met for the first time: Sala Seil, saxophonist, singer and dancer, and Tohm di Roes, poet, drummer and singer.
In the summer the duo was joined by bassist ToRo Klick, who had been crafting rhythms with Thom di Roes since 1982. Still nameless, the trio opened an exhibition by artist W.A. Scheffler at the private gallery “rot-grün” in Berlin’s Sredzkistraße, a team of producers grouped around the brothers Erhard und Mario Monden. The noise-laden performance heralded the birth of a new band: Klick & Aus, using the bassist’s surname to create a militant multilayered association.
Their live debut lasted all of 15 minutes. “Klick & Aus, the band that had the plug pulled”, remembers Sala Seil. Later performances were similarly burlesque to grotesque. New faces had also joined, including the poet Florian Günther, who soon left again, as well as Klick’s wife Evolinum on fanfare and violin. Rounding out the eccentric combo in classic style was singer Pjotr Schwert, a scientist whose dream GDR “day job” was as the night porter on a railroad sleeping car.
As Orwellian 1984 neared its end Tohm di Roes roamed Alexanderplatz recording the sounds of the local Christmas Market: the exuberant fairground atmosphere, the announcements trying to match lost children with their parents. These snippets became interludes between the songs on the cassette album “AIDS delikat”. Recorded with underground producer Thorsten Philipp at his studio in Berlin’s Mahlsdorf district, the album melded loud shamanic chants with song structures and archaic sampling. Klick & Aus played an amalgamation of Proto-Punk and Post-Punk influenced by acts from both East and West including Galloping Coroners, Captain Beefheart and Cabaret Voltaire.
The Klick & Aus sound breathed restlessness and petulance, like a company of soldiers always simmering for battle, but refusing to march in step. “Einzelkämpfer”, i.e. ‘Lone Warrior’, was one of di Roesʼ many clarion calls for self-empowerment. He turned Marx’s “Workers of the world, unite!” into “Partisans of the world, unite!”. Klick & Aus convened a celebration of the untamed and ecstatic, and put infantile masculinity firmly in its place. “Ich bin Deine große Schwester” (‘I’m Your Big Sister’), inspired and sung by Sala Seil, breaks the tape’s berserker aesthetic.
The title “AIDS delikat” intertwined the mystery of a new disease from the West with the delicacy shops where privileged East Germans could buy luxury goods. Klick & Aus wanted a high-quality production, so the band members spent their own money to avoid using the expensive lo-fi blank cassettes from the officially sanctioned ORWO company. The cover by Sala Seil was printed by a private printing operation in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg. In 1985 Tohm di Roes left the GDR, but not before playing a few shows, including the INTERMEDIA Festival in Coswig on June 1st, 1985. Before that however on April 30th, he joined in a cross-border steamboat trip on Müggelsee Lake where he set music to no less than Goethe’s “Walpurgis Night”.