German Post Punk Band Abwärts Classic 1980 Debut “AMOK KOMA” Gets US Reissue

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German Post Punk Band Abwärts Classic 1980 Debut “AMOK KOMA” Gets US Reissue

Postby NeatNeatNeatRecords Wed May 29, 2019 11:30 pm

Neat Neat Neat Records will be reissuing Abwärts' Amok Koma for the first time ever in the U.S. 250 copies will be available on clear smoke vinyl, while 750 copies will be available on black vinyl. Neat Neat Neat Records will also be including a faithful reproduction of the original 16 page booklet that came with the original German pressing, along with an additional page that will have translated lyrics and a letter from Frank Zeigert. It will be distributed in the US by Think Indie.

Abwärts may not be a name you recognize, but it's a name that holds with it a certain musical integrity that only comes around when creative tread has been worn down after decades. Abwärts, which translates to "Downwards" in German, is the name of a West German post-punk band that formed in 1979, just as the post-punk movement was gaining ground. They began as a scrappy punk rock outfit started by Mark Chung and FM Einheit, and made their presence known with the infectious single "Computerstaat". The single was ranked number one by the German independent charts for nearly a year. The band went into the studio to create their debut, and seminal LP, the post-punk masterpiece Amok Koma (1980).

Even though the band continued and continues to this day, the fact that an album like Amok Koma isn't regarded as an absolute classic in the post-punk canon is a crime. "Maschinenland" is a manic shot of late-60s jangle, mid-70s lower east side art rock, and the thriving German avant garde scene that began a decade earlier with bands like Faust, Kraftwerk, and Popol Vuh. "Karo 1/4 08/15 Hoch 2" is a sonic blast of aggression and punk that's in and out in less than a minute. "Monday On My Mind" has the swagger of classic Wire with a twist of West German Utilitarianism. Amok Koma would never get a release in the US, or outside of Germany for that matter, leaving ears stateside without the dose of Abwärts they so desperately needed, until now.

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. In this case, copyrights and album art. Just as things were wrapped up with the Amok Koma reissue, Neat Neat Neat Records label co-head Morrison Agen received a phone call from Pulitzer prize-winning photographer Stanley Forman. Forman shot the famous fire escape photo that donned the cover of the original Abwärts album. Forman wasn't comfortable with his photo being used. Wanting to respect the wishes of Stanley Forman, Agen did a last minute scramble to try and figure out an alternate front and back cover. Maybe a collage-like cover with elements of the original photo? Something like Robert Pollard would do for a Guided By Voices release? Why not ask Bob Pollard himself to create new album art altogether? A phone call from Morrison to the man himself and now Amok Koma has brand new album art, courtesy of the amazing Bob Pollard. Front art is titled 'Salute the Sky', and the back is titled 'Can You Testify'.

Sometimes the best laid plans become an even better plan.

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