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Mutabor - Live

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Album Review

Mutabor stormed the German modern rock scene in 1997 with this imposing debut recording, which produced the term "blockflötenpunkrock." Loosely translated, it means "wooden flute-based punk rock." Presumably the wooden flute refers to the recorder, which is used prominently on this album in tandem with violin and crunching guitars and driving rhythms. This project's co-conspirators — both vital to Mutabor's sound — are Anita Ratai (for her recorder, clarinet, saxophone, and accordion playing) and Axel Steinhagen (for his manic singing and psychotic songwriting). Steinhagen's outbursts become predictable in their unpredictability; regardless of how comfortable and "normal" a song might appear, it is only a matter of time until he loses his composure and wreaks total havoc on the song. That is the trademark and charm of this band. Mutabor are undeniably unique, as they combine folk melodies (Gypsy fiddle music is present on "Amsterdam" and Eastern intonations on "Amazegenalo") with punk and hard rock. Violinist Helen Bauerfeind even incorporates a classical touch to the rocking "Immer Wi(e)der." Mutabor have joined two other German groups, Subway to Sally and the Merlons, as innovators in creative folk and early music-infused hard rock, and in Mutabor's case, they may have already surpassed their forerunners after just one album.

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