Carsten Nicolai recalls his Depeche Moment

Carsten Nicolai is a musician, designer and artist based in Berlin who is perhaps best known for his work produced under the alva noto guise. In the ’90s he founded the experimental label Raster-Noton alongside Olaf Bender (Byetone) and Frank Bretschneider. You can watch an interview with Nicolai taken from Slices issue 4-09 at the bottom of the page.


I bought my very first Depeche Mode record in Budapest, I believe it was A Broken Frame. From what I know, Depeche Mode had a very strong following in East Germany—and in Hungary as well. Still, buying a record in Hungary at that time was very expensive, by comparison, in today’s money it would have been around 150 euros. I remember I had enough money at the time to either spend another week there or buy the record, so I made my choice.

I’ve thought about what it was that made people react so strongly to Depeche Mode, what gave them such a loyal following. Of course, there were many other bands at the time making good music too; even when I bought that record in Hungary, I was thinking that I might purchase a Public Image Ltd record instead. I think what made Depeche Mode stand out was this element of the post-punk sound, but also a pop appeal—electronic and very clean. The music felt well designed and possessed a sense of control, from the covers to the outfits. Yes, they were a little bit artificial, not as much as Kraftwerk perhaps but there was a definite boy band aspect. What’s more they were very young, their following was very young, and I think this was one of the keys to their success: that they defined a generation dedicated to their youth, and to the experiencing of this youth.

When the band became popular there was this feeling that something new was arriving. Socialism started fading, and everyone was very hungry for fresh ideas from outside the system. In a strange way, Depeche Mode represented Western culture for us Eastern Germans. We were very interested in existential bands, because we had a lot of existential pressure in our society—there was always very heavy life topics being discussed. From a West German’s point of view you would say that we were quite ‘underground oriented’, Einstürzende Neubauten for example were very popular, but Depeche Mode was not underground for us. They were something new, a band with very stylish punk outfits, kind of existentialist with their black clothes. Their music was pop mixed with electronic with industrial elements, flirting with punk without actually being punk. I think this kind of pop was somewhat an expression of a new society. Admittedly I dropped out of listening to Depeche quite early, I think around the time “People Are People” was released. They’d just become so big in the East that I stopped and I sold all my records—I’m that kind of listener, I never want to feel like I’m following a trend. But when Exciter came out, I started listening again simply because it was produced by Mark Bell, and I realized that I still loved the way they write and perform songs.

The first time I came across Depeche Mode in a close way was when Daniel Miller of Mute and Raster-Noton were curating London’s Short Circuit festival in 2011. I met him at Heathrow Airport, and he wanted to build a bridge together, to make something symbolic. We proposed to collect many different samples from my label Raster-Noton and from Mute and create an ambient, super-long set, which we’d play in between the sets throughout the night—like a sound-halo, something that fills the space even if its early and nobody has shown up yet. A lot of Mute artists delivered, and Martin Gore was one who sent over stuff as well which surprised me—that he still feels so close to the history of the label. He was at the event as well, he and Vince Clarke, and I met them for the first time. When you meet someone in that circumstance you just see them as a person, you don’t have this star posturing or attitude. Of course, I know who Martin is and he has this history, but the moment you talk to someone you forget about all that. You’re just standing backstage, having a drink and chatting, enjoying this moment of destiny.~

Photo: Luci Lux

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Kochklopse and other specialties

Kochklopse and other specialties 1 Königsberger Klopse
In the old GDR the word Königsberg ( König means King) was quite a no-no. This traditional Prussian dish was then called Kapern Klopse or Kochklopse to keep the socialist minds (and stomachs) free of monarchistic ideas whatsoever.
Watch how this American mum cooks Modeselektor’s favourite Klopse.

2 Würzfleisch mit original Dresdener Zwinger

We’ve got no idea. Must be some kind of corned-beef-like meat seasoned with a sauce named after the famous Zwinger in Dresden, which might or might not resemble Worcester Sauce. Good luck with that.

3 Steak au Four
There it is again: the mysterious ‘Würzfleisch’. A Steak ou Four (see also our headline picture) seems to be the unholy union of a pork’s neck steak and another part of the same pork called “Nuss” in German, this time cooked. Here’s the recipe, have your babelfish ready:

GDR recipe for 4 servings of: Steak au Four
Steaks: 4 Schweinerückensteaks (Kammscheiben), Öl, zum Anbraten, Salz&Pfeffer
Würzfleisch für Steak au four: 850 g Schweinenuss, 1 Suppengrün (Wurzelwerk), Gewürze wie Lorbeerblatt, Piment, Gewürzkorn und 1 Zwiebel
40 g Butter 40 g Zwiebel, fein gewürfelt, 250 g Champignon, feinblättrig geschnitten, 0.2 L Weißwein, 2 Eigelbe,
50 g Sahne, Zitronensaft, Salz&Pfeffer, 100-200 g Käse, gerieben, Butterflöckchen.

Schweinerückensteak mit Pfeffer würzen. In einer Pfanne mit heißem Öl scharf beidseitig anbraten. Heraus heben und in Alufolie bei Seite legen. Schweinenuss wird in kochendem Salzwasser mit Suppengrün und Gewürzen zum kochen gebracht und dann gar gezogen. Fleisch soll noch bissfest sein. Dann aus dem entstandenen Fond heben und erkalten lassen. Butter in Pfanne erhitzen, Zwiebel darin anschwitzen. Champignon zugegeben, mit Weißwein ablöschen und andünsten lassen. Schweinenuss klein gewürfelt hinzu fügen und mit Fond auffüllen bis eine gute Bindung entsteht. Alles nochmals vorsichtig kurz aufkochen, vom Herd nehmen. Legieren durch Einrühren von Eigelb und Sahne. Würzfleisch mit etwas Zitronensaft, Salz&Pfeffer abschmecken. Auflaufform fetten, noch warme Schweinerückensteaks einschlichten. Darauf das heiße Würzfleisch verteilen, alles gut bedecken. Darauf den Käse verteilen, darüber ein paar Butterflöckchen setzen. Im vorgeheizten Backofen bei Oberhitze (oder unter dem Grill) einige Minuten gratinieren, bis der Käse leicht gebräunt ist.

4 Soljanka
This we know! Soljanka is a meat and vegetable soup of Russian origin. Ingredients include cabbage, beef, tongue, ham, cucumber, plums, capers, onion and whatever you find in the dark corners of your fridge right behind the empty pickle jar.

5 Jägerschnitzel mit Maccheroni (the school cafeteria version)
The overcooked and practically free-of-vitamins cruelness of a school cafeteria menue is a global one that did not stop at a ‘Junge Pioniere’ lunch break. MDSLKTR will always fondly commemorate a good old schnitzel with noodles on the side, even if they might not both have been young pioneers in the first place.

6 Tote Oma – The Dead Grandma (it’s the shit, to be eaten with floury potatoes)

Well, this is what grandma would like like if she had been run over by a bus or rather a tank. Or – to connect Gernot’s taste in food with his just as excellent taste in tv series – it resembles the left-overs of a cast member of True Blood who did not close the curtains right.

Catch a quick glimpse of a nicely cooked ‘Tote Oma’ at minute 0:40 here:

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