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THE LOCAL MOON - s/t DLP

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The Local Moon (East Berlin 1987/88)
The name The Local Moon originated from an intimation by the oriental jester Nasreddin that every city had its own moon. This idea did not go without a certain local colour in the bipolar frontline city of Berlin; from an astropolitical view, its divided sky never saw a full moon, the light conditions were ideologically broken.

From the black light of those years emerged The Local Moon. René Le Doil and Ronald Lippok took wings like two crows from a pigeon’s nest when quite suddenly in 1987 light entertainment permeated East Berlin’s Offground and the two musicians were hired for the New Romantic revue New Affair. Before that, Le Doil had been involved in the Stattgespräch fashion spectacle and in Allerleirauh, the “thing of light, space, sound and leather”. Lippok had been the drummer for Rosa Extra, one of the earliest punk rock bands in East Berlin. Together with his brother Robert, who had already come into the picture with an avant-punk project named after the Jules Verne novel Fünf Wochen im Ballon (Five Weeks in a Balloon), Ronald Lippok then founded the post-punk commune Ornament & Verbre- chen, for whom Le Doil would occasionally guest as an organist.

The first night songs by The Local Moon were created in the shadows of a bright enthusiasm around New Affair. They were eventually recorded in Le Doil’s flat. Avoiding a fixed approach, Lippok and Le Doil would move the equipment around all the rooms of the flat to create different moods at various latitudes and longitudes of their miniverse, thus spiritually and experimentally charging the songs. Two large black cats observed the two Moonies’ dedicated activity with restrained interest, or impassively, and presumably did much to lift the mood.

The atmosphere created by The Local Moon evoked something like the purely visual acoustics of snow fall- ing silently into a deep utility shaft. From it, Ronald Lippok’s voice would prompt lyrics by witnesses to eternity including William Blake and John Donne. The songs, as well as the aestheticism of the artwork, rep- resent a rare example of black romanticism in the GDR underground. The sequence of songs on the tape is set in figurative brackets; on side A in the form of the lunar phase going from half-moon to full moon, on side B from full moon to new moon. Side A thus represents hope and a new beginning, side B despair and suicide. The tape peters out in a continuous loop – a conclusion entirely in the spirit of a preliminary doomsday.

The Local Moon undoubtedly was among the blackest darkwave in the East, which had spawned bands like Ornament & Verbrechen, Aufruhr zur Liebe, Cadavre Exquis, Komakino, Neun Tage Alt, Fellini Prostitutes, L’ambassadeur des Ombres, Rosengarten, Grabnoct, Nontoxic, KG Rest or Die Zucht. This limited cluster, sans inner circle, did not find its true representation on the map of an alternative soundscape. The rather modest edition of a Local Moon tape, of which a whop- ping 50 copies were put out on a non-existent market, was not due to their marginalisation within a counter-cultural scene that knew its own debates on formalism, but to DIY conditions specific to the East.

The literature samizdat Verwendung, in an edition of 100, was also circulated in this cultural shadow economy. Its fourth issue contained texts by the US beatnik bard Bob Kaufmann. The setting of his poem “A Buddhist Experience” by The Local Moon triggered a plan in 1988 to include a single with further Kaufmann adaptations by the band in a future issue. Recording now took place in an East Berlin backyard studio, and the technological system break from tape to single was followed by a musical change in style from rapturous sounds to more expressive echoes. The single was a coup: mastered and pressed in Hamburg, West Germany, a total of 400 copies were released in East Berlin. The Local Moon’s 7’’ EP was not the first illegal vinyl record by a GDR underground band, but it was the only one actually released and distributed within the great socialist cultural nation and below its censorship radar.