A modern collaboration between a cutting-edge Italian film score man (Teardo) and the German who founded Einstürzende Neubauten (Bargeld) sounds fascinating on paper – and it is! Still Smiling is a set of 12 songs presented in English, German and Italian, with a strong feel of early Berlin-style cabaret, but with a strong, bitter twist. Behind the songs (all performed by Bargeld) there sits a series of beautifully produced arrangements that use strings, squeaks, clunks and other unexpected sounds. The result is a bizarre, dark album that slowly builds and improves with extending listening – these guys are just too clever to let you understand it all the first time around.
Hellish nightmares, tender dreams and all that’s in between are dramatically evoked in this collaboration between Italian composer Teho Teardo and German musician Blixa Bargeld. The two originally worked together on a song for a film soundtrack and went on to produce a whole album over two years. It’s an album that encapsulates qualities of both artists: Teardo’s restrained but moving string arrangements, Bargeld’s dynamic vocal range and the industrial sounds of his long-running band Einstürzende Neubauten.
A trans-Alpine alliance of the highest order, Still Smiling sees Blixa Bargeld join forces with Italian composer Teho Teardo for a bold, 13-track, hour-long album released on Italy's Specula label. Despite his distinctive, domineering voice, Bargeld is a master collaborator who adapts readily to many forms, from Alva Noto's scratchy electronics on 2011's anbb album Mimikry, to his garrulous interpretations of Nico's 'Mutterlein' and 'Abschied' on X-TG's superlative Desertshore project of last year. If, as Bargeld told me in 2010, the "the gigantic monster Einstürzende Neubauten is going to go to sleep on the bottom of the ocean for a while", its roar is still very much awake.