JD Twitch presents Kreaturen Der Nacht (4 stars)

JD Twitch presents Kreaturen Der Nacht

Optimo (Espacio)'s Twitch maps a parallel history of German post-punk in the early 1980s

Any mix or compilation which Optimo (Espacio)'s JD Twitch lends his name to has the added bonus of being not just an inevitably pleasing listen, but also a sonic excavation of ear-opening dimensions. Blessed with that unexpected and all-too-rare blend of abilities to dig hard for unheard music while spotting and developing to the full the great hooks he finds, any collection of music which Twitch has overseen – on or off dancefloors in Glasgow and around the world – is a joyful education.

With Kreaturen Der Nacht ('Creatures of the Night'), his latest compilation for Strut, Twitch maps a parallel history of German post-punk in the early 1980s, an era when Berlin wasn't the enlightened European hub of designers, DJs and tech companies it is now, but the still-scarred and Berlin Wall-riven frontline in the Cold War. To an extent all of West Germany – from Dusseldorf to Cologne and Hamburg – bore these dark edges of the crack between politics and art, but the economy was high and musicians made hay.

The 16 tracks on this compilation – chosen for reasons of listening pleasure and not to offer a definitive statement on the scene, says Twitch (although we would have loved to have seen a copy which included the gatefold's apparently copious interviews and photography) – take an evocative snapshot of a group of young German musicians who thrived on the influence of punk, the cultural confidence to use their own language and a raw, DIY sensibility which is perfectly Optimo.

From the low bass pulse and yelped vocals of Leben und Arbeiten's 'Amanita' to Ausserhalb's sombre, Siouxsie and the Banshees-like 'Zeitzelle' and Die Haut's motoric, Can/Morricone fusion 'Der Karibische Western', these songs mirror the post-punk which was coming out of the UK during the time covered (1980 to 1985) in their style and their raw analogue production. Mania D's 'Track 4' sounds like a distraught Joy Division with saxophones; Twitch's own edit of Christiane F's 'Wunderbar' is a lost disco-punk classic; and as the record moves on, there are more ambient and often dub or synthesiser-influenced experiments in atmosphere, a parallel reality of classics you never knew existed.

Out now on Strut Records.

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