By Cory Sklar
By Alee Karim
By Christina Li
By Dave Pehling
By Ian S. Port
By SF Weekly
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
Over the last few years, Blixa Bargeld has passed through town with the Bad Seeds, lending his sadistically seductive guitar to Nick Cave's Southern Gothic romanticism. Sinister noise-metal protagonist F.M. Einheit has also ventured stateside in recent years, supporting heady aural histories like Deutsche Krieger and Odysseus 7. But it has been nearly six years since EinstYrzende Neubauten has appeared in the Bay Area in support of its seventh full-length release, Ende Neu, which only very recently found distribution here. Ende Neu retains the gleefully destructive "non-musicmaking" aesthetic of Kollaps -- the band's dada-inspired, extremist debut, which ushered in terrorist performances and near-riots at every show in Berlin. The organic, frequently inconsistent, nature of machinery is still held in high esteem, and samplers are not used. The unyielding sound of an electric drill striking a metal plate on "Installation No. 1" is recorded live; in the 11-minute long "NNNAAAMMM," rhythms from industrial engines, motorized flutes, and "singing" power lines get as much space as Bargeld's mantra "New No New Age Advanced Ambient Motor Music Machine." Unlike some past recordings, however, Ende Neu does not break down into "noisy" monotony, and will not be loved by some latter-day proponents of musical machination. "Was Ist Ist" is a powerful Teutonic marching song, rife with a missing political implication and a large choir of voices. "The Garden" and "Der Schacht Von Babel" are melancholy songs that find Bargeld obsessed with language and biblical imagery -- perhaps the result of all those years with Cave. "Stella Maris" is the first love song EinstYrzende Neubauten has attempted since Lee Hazelwood's "Sand," but this time we find Bargeld writing for himself and accompanied by a woman, German chanteuse Meret Becker, who softens and enriches his hopeless compulsion. The bonus track "Bili Rubin" is as maudlin as the title track is menacing; both are unforgettable, proving that EinstYrzende Neubauten hasn't lost its edge -- it's just learned other ways to rage. In grand fashion, the stage will be littered, tonight, with "musical" apparatuses dangerous enough to make Survival Research Labs salivate. If we can trust a conversation overheard between Bargeld and SRL's Mark Pauline, jet engines will be forth-coming. Bring earplugs. EinstYrzende Neubauten performs at the Warfield on Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22.50; call 775-7722.
One of the first of a string of Cuban drummers to make an impact on American music, Francisco Aguabella immigrated to the States in 1957 and recorded with Peggy Lee, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, and Carlos Santana. Local label Cubop has just remastered and reissued the Latin legend's 1970 album Hard Hitting -- a difficult-to-find rare groove masterpiece that brings together Latin jazz, soul, traditional Brazilian music, and no-nonsense funk in a sweaty alliance that easily rivals that of other '70s mavericks like Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers (whose rare reissues are also available on Cubop). Aguabella makes an unusual live appearance at the Elbo Room on Thursday, Dec. 10, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 552-7788. He also appears at Mr. E's in Berkeley on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11 and 12; call (510) 848-2009. And at Fuel 44 in San Jose on Sunday, Dec. 13; call (408) 295-7374.
There is a certain distorted romanticism in the work of Max Aguilera-Hellweg. While other photographers strive to capture their subjects in private expressions of emotion, Aguilera-Hellweg seeks something far more intimate. He wants to know what's going on inside, behind the thoughts and the protective shells. He deserts the trappings and the affectations, scrutinizing only the inner body, shining light into cavities meant, by nature, to remain dark and protected. His work is not pretty -- invasive surgery is violent, bloody, and relentless -- but it is artful. Aguilera-Hellweg clearly respects and admires his subject matter -- he recently gave up 20 years in photojournalism to enroll in medical school -- and his photographs express the artist's privilege in entry. "The Sacred Heart: An Atlas of the Body Seen Through Invasive Surgery" will be shown at S.F. Camerawork from Friday, Dec. 11, through Jan. 30, with a lecture by Aguilera-Hellweg held there on Jan. 8 at 5:30 p.m. Call 764-1001. Also on display is "Eternity or What?," Hiro Yamagata's study of single-cell organisms.
When Rene Herrera left Cuba in a rowboat with his wife and young daughter, he also left behind a prominent musical career with the Cuban Symphony. Why he decided to land in Richmond, Va., is anyone's guess; Richmond might be a hotbed of hot jazz, but there are probably fewer than five salsa bands in that city. Strangely enough, while Herrera was planning his journey, seven suave Virginia boys were learning Afro-Cuban licks off a stack of old records. By the time Herrera arrived, the Latin swing group was playing small clubs, just waiting for someone to take the helm, so to speak. Herrera was that man. Since he joined, Bio Ritmo has crossed the country with the Squirrel Nut Zippers (of course), G-Love & Special Sauce, Wilco, and Tito Puente. They sizzle, they swing, they make your living room feel like the Copacabana. Bio Ritmo performs at Cafe Du Nord on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 14 and 15, at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 861-5016.