“Nostalgia has nothing to do with it”
Both sad, bored and on the rebound from a broken love affair, Dieter Mauson (°1964) and Stefan Heinze (°1966 a.k.a. INOX KAPELL) run into one another in the streets of the North-Western German town of Leer in 1986. The post-punks get on well, both being record collectors and adherent lovers of the Neue Deutsche Welle and the industrial and electronic musical underground. An upcoming underground music festival in their hometown is the perfect opportunity to blend Mauson’s bass and guitarplaying with the electronics of Heinze. Their angst-ridden poetry gets a second life as lyrics. The home-taping is done literally in Inox’ bedroom, and recording sessions are interrupted to have tea and watch television in company of his parents. Within a month and a half the duo HEAVY SEX (courtesey of PORTION CONTROL’s 1983 ‘Shot In The Belly’ tape) is on stage for the first gig in the Fall of 1986. Not quite happy with the heavy sex moniker, FRANKIE MACHINE (taken form the 1955 junkiefilm ‘The Man With The Golden Arm’) becomes the shortlived new flag for a second gig.
But in the long run Dieter's poetry delivers the name that will stick: Eternal longing takes on a French shape as NOSTALGIE ÉTERNELLE. One might think that this name is catching up with the duo because the interest in their music is now bigger than in the 1980’s but Dieter Mauson disagrees: “We know most people are thinking about to look back to the past with a longing and to want it back, but this is not the meaning of NOSTALGIE ÉTERNELLE. It’s just the longing for a better life. Lately I realised that in the past it was more suffering and dreaming of a better life. Now the meaning changed into struggling/working for a better life.”
With a musical pedigree ranging from DEAD KENNEDYS over JOY DIVISION and DER PLAN to EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN, NOSTALGIE ÉTERNELLE
delivers a mixture of minimal electronic experimentalism, post-punk, Neue Deutsche Welle, and the original punk esthetics still seep through the short, raw and “simple” compositions with biting
vocals. Being in touch with the cassette scene since 1981, and for reasons of both economical necessity and the need for DIY independence, tapes become the exclusive vehicle for the releases of
NOSTALGIE ÉTERNELLE. The international cassette network is put to maximum use, and in only five years time no less than 10 tapes and 120 contributions to compilations are released. Apart from all
the usual European/American suspects in the hometape network, tracks of NOSTALGIE ÉTERNELLE make it as far as Asia, Australia and even Africa.
While a romantic break-up has brought them together, it’s a physical separation that leads to the end of NOSTALGIE ÉTERNELLE in 1991. When Dieter relocates to the north (Hamburg), the distance with Inox in Mainz becomes an obstacle for new recordings, and only one concert (1992) is realised after the move. Another factor is a difference in daytime occupation, with Inox Kapell quitting his job to run his own club in Wiesbaden, to become a 24/7 artist and entomologic scientist, and Dieter Mauson living a more regular life with a nine to five job, a wife and 2 children. Although NOSTAGIE ÉTERNELLE reaches a state of hibernation with only a handful retrospective activities/releases, the duo stays in touch and sometimes a revival is a subject of their conversations. Ironically it’s a divorce that triggers the reunion. When Dieter and his wife split up in 2008, he decides to re-activate the realisation of his musical dreams. A meeting with Inox Kapell in his Wiesbaden (a.k.a. “Wespbaden”) studio rekindles the “old magic” and leads to new material. A vinyl album (SANS FIN) with new material recorded in 2009-2011 is just released on the German label Hafenschlamm Records. While amongst others the Italian Final Muzik and the Belgian hometape pioneers EE Tapes are making the vintage material available again through limited retrospectives. Not without a touch of humour the 2011 retrospective cd release is called ‘Notre Début’. New material and concerts are in the pipeline for 2012.
The renewed interest in NOSTALGIE ÉTERNELLE is part of the electronic countermovement that tackles the death of the traditional music industry in the digital era (downloads, mp3’s) with beautifully crafted vinyls or even tapes. The same goes for the music: the purity of a realtime recording of an analogue synthesizer and the minimalism of the instrumentation is preferred to the clean sound of overproduced and computergenerated music. Even in its original minimalist concept, NOSTAGIE ÉTERNELLE was more minimal than the ‘competition’ because of recording limitations (4-channel mixing) and their punkattitude that favoured realtime recordings (cassette deck + vocals) over working and reworking a track over and over again. Little has changed in 2012. Analogue synthesizers, a (digital) 8-track recorder and drum machines still provide the duo with enough possibilities to make creative spontaneous recordings. Computers are unwelcome in the recording process, but of course the internet has taken the place of the old boys international tape network as tool of propaganda. In the same philosophy vinyl and tapes remain the best formats to present the music of NOSTALGIE ÉTERNELLE. Nostalgia has nothing to do with it.
© Peter Vercauteren (Belgian music journalist), February 2012