We cannot belittle the genius of Bad Seeds guitarist Blixa Bargeld -- the architect behind Germany's famed EinstYrzende Neubauten -- but anyone who has followed the solo work of Neubauten's F.M. Einheit knows that the multi-instrumentalist had a lot to do with the group's industrial mayhem as well. In recent years, Einheit was commissioned to undertake a series of concept albums, all of which were recently made available in the States on Martin Atkins' Invisible Records (also the home of Atkins' mutable industrial supergroup Pigface). The first album, Sensation Death, was commissioned by Danish choreographer Rica Blunck to accompany a futuristic game show in which female criminals were suspended above a stage by steel cables and connected by computer to the audience. Einheit's signature sounds -- power tools, heavy percussion, female screams, and video-game effects -- nestled against German dance music, making Sensation Death strangely accessible, but far more outlandish than recent Neubauten. Two years later, Einheit and newfound collaborator Andreas Ammer released the radio play Radio Inferno, an elaborate, consistently terrifying collection of broadcasts in which Einheit essayed his vision of Dante's Inferno. On it, Bargeld plays Dante, Caspar Brstzmann plays a perilous guitar (as always), and John Peel plays an unflappable radio announcer whose clean-collared voice can't keep the demons from crawling out of Einheit's consciousness and onto your living-room carpet. Two years after that, the release of Deutscher Krieger marked Einheit's departure from Neubauten and his most ambitious project with Ammer yet. Krieger, a three-part opera commissioned by national German radio, turns the recorded voices of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Adolf Hitler, and the terrorist Ulrike Meinhof into musical superstars who express all the rage and sadistic intention of an entire nation in the context of industrial pop songs. Einheit's aural documentary says "Germany is sick" at a time when Germany is trying to downplay its violent history. During Invisible Records' Lowest of the Low Tour, Einheit will be joined by a five-piece band, including the "human beatbox" and a very young female chanteuse who will animate works from his upcoming space-opera Odysseus Seven, as well as several songs specially composed for the tour. Fans can expect Einheit to play everything from "bedsprings to cats and dogs," with very few electronic implements because, as Einheit says, "A lot of electronics onstage is not very sexy." The Lowest of the Low Tour also includes Pigface (an industrial embodiment of members of Test Dept., Chemlab, Dead Can Dance, and founder Atkins, a drummer who's done time with PiL, Killing Joke, Ministry, and NIN), Scorn (acts of dub terrorism by Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris), Bagman (trip hop, drum 'n' bass, and ethnic vibes from Sheep on Drugs programmer Lee Fraser and B-boy rapper Thigahmahjiggee), Tribes of Neurot (an unholy union between Neurosis and ex-Pain Teen mastermind Scott Ayers), and Not Breathing (hard techno created with throbbing feedback and didgeridoo among an array of trippy visuals). Einheit and the Lowest of the Low Tour hit the Fillmore on Thursday, March 19, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $17.50; call 775-7722.
There he stands, bugle flailing, in a bright orange polyester cowboy shirt with white leather spats, a black bolero hat, and silver spurs that tear spastic gashes in the wood veneer of the stage. He is a legend in his own mind and time, the self-proclaimed "sexiest cowboy alive," the original space cowboy whose only charting record was billed as the World's Worst in no less than 29 countries. His wild-eyed caterwauling, suggestive pelvic gyrations, and manic rebel yells have made fellow musicians from Lubbock, Texas -- Joe Ely, Terry Allen, Jimmie Dale Gilmore -- pale like cream puffs, but these same harried rodeo-riding-Dairy Queen-in-space incantations have been inspiring for the Cramps, the Gun Club, Robert Plant, and David Bowie (who, after seeing just one such performance, immediately dubbed himself Ziggy Stardust, no joke). This is the one and only Legendary Stardust Cowboy, the Pepsi-drinking-Star Trek: The Next Generation-watching-Liberace-loving Stardust Cowboy who wrote all your crazy astrobilly faves like "My Underwear Froze on the Line," "Rock-It to Stardom," "Peppermint Piston Rings (They Are Very Good Things)," "Someone Took the Yellow From My Egg," and "Idiots Rolling Sideways" (a clever acronym for the IRS, no?). This is the real thing. The Legendary Stardust Cowboy will spew crazy talk, strip down to skivvies, hurl everything within reach, and sing for all he's worth at the Bottom of the Hill on Friday, March 20, with Sloe Gin Joes and Jumbo Shrimp opening at 10 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 621-4455.
-- Silke Tudor