Mekanik Destruktiw Komandoh Berlin 12" (Sixth International, 1983)
Named after the great Magma album of the same name, MDK musically resembles their namesake very little. Instead of the prog com krautrock cum hippie art jam that Magma is, MDK taps into the Rough Trade/post punk of their time (admittedly with a tad of krautrock). Their sound is one of contrasts: Tight playing with rough production, guttural spit-out vocals with semi-smooth sax, a locked groove with herky jerk. Not only does it work well, but it ages much better than I expected.
I was introduced to MDK by Maximum Rockandroll. I am not a MRR basher. Though nowadays, I find it irrelevant, I think the zine has had a very useful existence, especially during the times that the zine loosens up a bit on the what is and what isn't punk angle. When MRR started, punk was pretty wide open. All the genre ghettos that were forced upon it by purists and marketers had yet to take hold. Early MRRs reflect that: The Pagans were reviewed along side Diamanda Galas. Scene reports focused on any local band playing non-mainstream original music. Because MRR was pretty much the first zine to aggressively explore the international rock underground, all kinds of gems were discovered. One of them was MDK.
I am not sure exactly how MDK got MRR's attention but I am guess it was due to Ruth Schwartz. At the time, I believe Ruth was one of the people running Rough Trade's San Francisco store and Sixth International, the label MDK was on, was RT's very short-lived American imprint. I first heard MDK on MRR's radio show on KPFA, a show we listened to religiously (every Tuesday night, my little brother and I would rig up a boombox, wires attached to the antenna, strung out the window and up to the roof where they were hooked to a series of wire coat hangers. Still got shit for reception but through the snow we heard our punk rock!).
I remember MDK being interviewed on MRR radio and being fascinated that rock & roll was being made by people other than Americans or Brits (for those of you too young to remember: Until the 1990s, it was a novelty - at least in the mainstream - for non-Anglo-Americans to play rock & roll. Every once in a while an Aussie or a German would chart and dejays would discuss it as something "neat." I remember the craze around Nena's hit 99 Luft Balloons, a shitty song pushed as a novelty [Hey! She's singing in KRAUT!]. Nowadays, people rarely are moved by such things. Failure to be surprised that people other than Americans & Brits can play rock & roll or pop music is what cultural warriors refer to as Our Loss of Innocence). MDK was new and unusual in their Germanness and I was determined to get the record. I conned a friend to con her sister to take us to San Francisco so I could go to Rough Trade and buy the record, which I did (along with the Offs' 624823, X's White Girl, and MX-80's Crowd Control). I wasn't disappointed.
The history of the band or what happened to its members, I have no idea. They came to America, played San Francisco (there is some Target Video footage out there), and released on record. The label, Sixth International, released one more record, a Scream LP, and then folded. Rough Trade San Francisco lingered for a couple years and died. I still have the record.
Cool record this -- thanks for sharing it.
I also remember having this album and it was probably from hearing it on the show. I also remember being intrigued with a Sort Sol song although I could never find their stuff.
Thanks for your blog. I'm weirdly unmotivated about listening to music, but I have been enjoying reading about it here.