I love me a good comp, and I’m a big fan of 1980s post-punk, so the decision to buy Kreaturen Der Nacht (Deutsche Post-Punk Subkultur 1980-1984) was not a difficult one. What I didn’t know at that moment, however, was how awesome this 2 X LP collection of German artists was. Not only because all 16 tracks are edgy and dark, but also because of the liner notes. Wow! This thing is annotated like like a 1960s jazz record. Both the inner sleeves are slick glossy stock and covered front and back with photos and text, five columns worth on each side. Every track includes first-person accounts of the band and song by one or more of the members. A few are relatively short at a single paragraph but others, such as that by ZickZack’s Alfred Hilsberg, run a whopping eight. No matter how much you know about this scene (which in my case is next to nothing), you’re going to learn something new here. Throw in a download card and you’ve got something that is worth every penny.
The term post-punk is, of course, one of convenience. All 16 tracks do have some very basic common ground, a combination of place, time, and a certain gloominess. But there’s a lot of room within that bucket, and these artists explore many of it’s outer edges. Die Haut’s five-and-a-half-minute “Der Karibisch Western” is a surf-and-western inspired piece, opening with an extended instrumental jam of almost four minutes before some female vocals sneak in for just a single verse. And that’s immediately followed by the bizarrely experimental “Pingelig” by Aus Lauter Liebe. You want electro-funk? ExKurs’ “Fakten” has you covered. You have no idea what to expect as one track ends and the next one starts, which is always half the fun with a compilation.