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Kleenex/Liliput

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Album Review

You can bet that a karaoke version of LiLiPUT's first full-length will never see the light of day. It's an exciting and ultimately accessible amalgam of crazy rhythms and impossible-to-replicate vocalisms. The recording found the band as a trio, having lost a drummer and a saxophonist. Only Astrid Spirit, Klaudia Schiff, and Marlene Marder remained, sharing all of the duties. Aside from the airy "Might Is Right" and the relatively forceful "Like or Lump It," there's hardly any prominent guitar. Otherwise, you probably wouldn't hear guitar unless you were specifically hunting for it in the mix, because it makes for just as much of a percussive element as the drums. Generally, they pound out a loping rhythm and chant unintelligible phrases, adding the occasional violin shriek or unidentifiable nuance. This method strikes gold with each attempt. "Do You Mind My Dream" snarls and swoops; the guitar is just as effectively plucky and trebly as the one found on Liquid Liquid's "Optimo" and Talking Heads' "I Zimbra." Spirit's squeaky vocals highlight "In a Mess" and "Tong Tong," both of which could be mistaken for New York funksters ESG. "Outburst" could be the best example of LiLiPUT's greatness, with a jumpy bassline and the most animalistic of vocal gestures. Spirit "ugh"s in time with the one-two bass punch as if she were being karate chopped in the gut. At other points during the song, she alternates between "proper" singing and helium ingestion, breaking that up with hyena-like noises. LiLiPUT actually gets more experimental than that. "Birdy" is a nails-on-chalkboard violin instrumental, gradually gathering steam until hitting overload. "Umamm," another instrumental, offers little more than tribal drums. Thanks to the similarly titled compilation, the album is available in its entirety.

Customer Reviews

fine, fine euro punk from back in the day

I first heard of Kleenex on a vinyl Rough Trade compilation I bought in high school called "Wanna Buy A Bridge?" that included Stiff Little Fingers, Robert Wyatt, Cabaret Voltaire, Essential Logic and others. For years I had only "Ain't You" but it was a song that stuck in my head. Besides, I felt like I was in on some secret by knowing about this obscure Swiss punk band that none of my friends knew about. It's so great to finally hear their whole catalog. It's interesting to track their evolution from the simple song structures of "Nighttoad" and "1978" to the more sophisticated melodies and arrangements of later songs such as "DC-10" and "Hitch-Hike". Using horns to beef up the spare guitar parts of a punk song still sounds as brave and innovative today as it did almost thirty years ago. I also like the fact that not all of their songs are in English. At times the songwriting can suffer a bit from a certain sameness but that can be excused as young, possibly self-taught, innovators finding their way. I would much rather listen to a few similar-sounding songs done with passion and sincerity than an entire album of distinct, well-crafted tunes completely lacking in individuality or original thought. Sure there are parallels to be drawn with bands like the Au Pairs and Delta 5 but Kleenex/Liliput clearly forged their own sound. Without a doubt they were influential, if nearly invisibly so, on a great number of independent/underground artists in later years. I have trouble conceiving of bands like Hole if it were not for the groundbreaking work of Kleenex. Highly recommended.

Essential Piece of Post-Punk History

Kleenex/Liliput were an all girl post-punk band hailing from Zurich. Due to good press but bas distribution, their music was almost lost. Thanks to Kill Rock Stars pretty much all of it is here. What makes this band so important is the music Liliput influenced. If it wasn't for them, I doubt that bands like The Breeders, Vivian GIrls, Throwing Muses, Le Tigre, Gossip and hundreds more would have the success they've had. Some Highlights of this collection include Ain't You, Die Matrossen, DC-10, Nice and You, though pretty much ever song on this collection is good. Any true fan of post-punk and most of the indie music of today cannot truly say they know their stuff until they've experienced Kleenex/Liliput.

Biography

Formed: 1978 in Zurich, Switzerland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s

During the punk rock era of the late '70s, there were three bands comprised of women who made some of the best, most adventurous, exhilarating, and most critically derided music of the time. Two were the English bands the Slits and the Raincoats, and the third band, from Switzerland, was LiLiPUT. Fans of all three bands will argue ad infinitum as to who was the better. But one thing is for certain: LiLiPUT was an amazing band that recorded amazing music,...
Full Bio