Jonas aka JAGO DJ lives and works in Karlsruhe. Together with his buddy Hendrik Vogel he is responsible for the musical programming of the venue Fettschmelze. Jonas’s also playing on Red Light Radio regularly (check his last show here) and working on a new reissue label project focused on experimental German music soon to be launched. For the topfive, he chose records with a German background of some kind, either language, label or artist: «Maybe it’s an obvious choice by now, but finding and playing records from here has been very important to me for a long time. Also, this is stuff I might find „in the wild“ on a trip to a small record fair closeby».
David Hopkins — Gaia (An Ecological Mediation) LP [Wergo Spectrum, 1987]
Unfortunately, this record is one of the reasons to check the often dreadful bins of classical music at your local shop or record fair. Mostly in the 80s the giant label Wergo put out a series called Spectrum collecting somewhat unclassifiable and experimental music involving synthesizer or self-made instruments. Not all are good of course, but a handful Spectrum-records are truly unique and worth seeking out. The album „Gaia“ features a beautiful palette of wooden and tribal instruments, think rainmakers, sanzas, hand drums, water-flutes, mostly played by David Hopkins himself, with a little bass or guitar added here and there. The four very long and dynamic tracks effortlessly move from droning meditation through natural soundscapes to playful percussion parts and back. One for the slow Sundays.
P!OFF? — Mein Walkman Ist Kaputt 7“ [Transparent, 1982]
There is something special about finding music in your first language, I think. For me especially if it’s banging New Wave and the lyrics are as poetic and funny as these. Here we have a very dead-pan but metaphorical description of a desolate society and a planet close to collapse. With the twist being that the main concern here in the refrain translates to „My walkman is broken, this is God’s punishment, this is the fire of hell“. Very relatable. Talk about ahead of its time. There is an album to this single as well with a very nice downtempo number on it. The 7“ sounds super fat though and can easily be played out. Was asked about this one every time I did.
Bernie L. — Ende der Eiszeit LP [Skyine Records, 1984]
There’s a good lesson about finding records with this one. But first, I have to thank James aka Calypso Steve for showing this record to me. I suppose it made the rounds a few years back but I totally missed it. The album is a weird and funny, one could say Austrian take on Boogie and Disco. Some things are off with this one, but just the right amount. So I went to the Utrecht record fair last fall. On the morning of the first day after hastily checking out the first sellers I took a breather and started chatting with a random dealer. For some reason, he asked me which record was on top of my wantlist. I replied, „I guess you would have to be an Austrian dealer to hook me up for that one“. „Which record?“ he asked. I started telling him about the Bernie L. record and before I could even finish the name of it, another guy standing nearby goes „Oh that one, yeah, my friend is selling it. He will set up his booth in 2 hours.“ So I got it. The lesson here is: don’t go quiet while digging, instead ask for a certain record. The chances are small, sure, but not zero.
Recht Herzlich — Gut Bewegen 7“ [Reflektor Z, 1982]
I think this is not controversial: a lot of records considered to be part of the ‚Neue Deutsche Welle‘ are far from enjoyable. Especially the version of it that went mainstream at the time: often over the top, cheesy and the wrong kind of simple. Luckily there is the right kind of simple, too: clever arrangements, catchy synth melodies and tough mechanical drums. With „Gut Bewegen“, the B-Side of this single, we have all three plus cute lyrics about a nightly encounter and the way a guy moves (his moves are good, in case you couldn’t figure it out). I would have loved to be the first to play it at Fettschmelze, but Skatebård got the drop on me. He played it between a lot of Italo and Electro and it fits very well in that company. You can check out the recording of that night, by the way: it’s Dekmantel Podcast No. 159. Featured on a compilation two years ago „Gut Bewegen“ got easier to track down, although I find a well sounding 7“ of that song very gut!
Die Fische — Eine Nacht in Cairo LP [Fisch Records, 1986]
This obscure album from Die Fische ranging from New Wave and dark Synth-Pop to Alternative Rock features a handful of great tracks on the B-Side. With a very distinctive aesthetic, the usual instrumentation of Drums/Bass/Guitar is seamlessly expanded by synthesizers and additional percussion. The standout tracks for my ears are all slow, dreamy and oscillate between the organic and electronic. No wonder then that this record was recommended to me by Jan Schulte. Hendrik and I invited him to play a relaxed open-air event in the middle of Karlsruhe in 2015. I can’t really remember if he actually played it there (and I fucked up the recording with only the atmo being saved) but I can remember the great cover and name being burned-in in my head. Took me two years to find a copy. There’s another great track here I might upload soon.
Words and pics JAGO DJ. Vase collection by his girl Lisa.