I’d become a Nitzer Ebb fan on the release of 1992’s Alan Wilder-produced ‘Ebbhead’, a frustrating time to become a fan of the band because they went on a three-year hiatus pretty much straight after they released that record.
Around the same time, I had the delusion that I too could be an electronic musician. I took out a subscription to Future Music, and quickly realised I was only buying the magazine for the album reviews and cover-mounted CDs given that the income from my part-time job was never going to buy me even the smallest synth.
So, in February 1994, with Nitzer Ebb still a year away from releasing their troubled ‘Big Hit’ album, I was floored when Future Music included a track from a band called Shining on their CD. It turns out that Shining was the new project from early Ebb member and mid-period tour drummer Julian “Joolz” Beeston, KMFDM guitarist Steve White and vocalist John Bagguley.
The track that was included on the CD seemed the perfect solution to my Ebb drought. ‘Hysteria’ was angsty and negative, it had raw vocals, a thudding EBM rhythm and the sort of sinewy fast-paced sequences that had made early Ebb tracks like ‘Let Your Body Learn’ so distinctive. If it was possible to wear out a CD from repeated listens, that would have been the fate of my copy of ‘FMCD6’, where ‘Hysteria’ was literally the only thing I listened to for weeks on end.
‘Hysteria’ presaged a solitary album, ‘Din’, that no one noticed. It took nearly two decades for me to finally track down a copy. I think, if I’d gone out and got the album when it was released, I’d have been as disappointed as I had been when I first heard Nitzer Ebb’s ‘Big Hit’, where I felt the group had crossed over too much into the boring, pedestrian world of conventional rock.
‘Din’ took a while to grow on me, but listening to it now I see it as a diverse, unknown gem of a record that took the early, repetitive Ebb sound (once described by Biba Kopf as being like a “beer hall putsch”) into new and exciting territory, especially on the jerky, sinewy electro-rock of ‘Horizon’, the vengeful ‘Backstabbing’ or the atmospheric slow grind and churn of ‘Pleasure Ride’.
For me, despite the interesting moments to be found on ‘Din’, it’s the white heat, rage and anger of ‘Hysteria’ that remains the band’s most compelling moment in their short, overlooked career.