on Replica Records
Brand new rerelease of this classic soundtrack from 1985
A cult classic of sci-fi dystopia, Decoder saw Neubauten’s members working alongside Genesis P-Orridge and William S. Burroughs. It’s one of the strangest (and most prescient) films of the decade
The film was made in Hamburg and Berlin, and directed by Muscha (who directed several punk films). The lead roles are played by Christiane F and FM Einheit from Einstürzende Neubauten, who also contributed to the film’s score. Genesis P-Orridge (from Psychic TV), the kingpin of the English industrial scene, also appears as a priest of the Black Noise faith. Author William S. Burroughs portrays an insurrectionist salesman of audio equipment, and American cult actor Bill Rice plays a detective. Matt Johnson from The The wrote a frenetic, deformed song for the film that is both fantastic and painful to listen to: “Three Orange Kisses from Kazan.” But Dave Ball and Genesis P-Orridge composed the rest of the soundtrack. (Dave Ball was the other half of Marc Almond’s Soft Cell, at the time one of the biggest groups in the English underground electro-pop scene.)
The film may have denounced muzak – seen as a symbol of consumerism’s stranglehold on the world – but its soundtrack actively flirts with it. Dave Ball and Genesis P-Orridge shrewdly hijack elevator music for their own ends: alongside loops taken from actual muzak records are synths that pump out slow, almost funky grooves, a few jazzy spirals of piano notes intertwined with bleeps, samples, grinding sounds, reverb and whispers that could be either sensual or menacing. Decoder rejoices in its dialectic between “muzak” and “black noise” in various ways, looking to take as many liberties and make as many exaggerations as it can get away with.