Monika Force

Compiled by label owner Gudrun Gut, this sampler is one of the best poptronic collections to come along in ages, as well as a good peek inside the German mind-set. Musically, Germany is best known for producing sleek, precise techno and methodical, impassive rock. Not surprisingly, the countrymen and -women here follow suit, offering plink-plonking beats, terse guitar oscillations, ominous synth growls, and a Brian Eno cover that's icier than the original. The non-Teutonic acts, however, are a different story, perhaps showcasing what Germans wish they could be musically -- i.e., playful, innocent, childlike. Whether singing about momentary love (Florida's "Girl on the Escalator") or Afghan headgear (the all-girl Burka Band's "Burka Blue"), these acts show off a lightheartedness the krauts can't approach. The one act that combines the two elements is Berlin's Cobra Killer, a hottt grrl duo that rototillers together '60s pop, digital punk, and old-school rap. A few more artists like CK, and Germany's chilly reputation may thaw.

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