With the drop of Hans und Heimlich's new archival release this winter, let us take a brief respite from mumble rap and the barrage of repackaged, brickwalled rereleases from heroes of yore to recall a couple of quiet heroes. On this latest archival release which spans the nearly three year period between their first album up to just before the release of their final EP in 1983, Hans lets his hair down with some previously unheard vocals on the alternate take of Haus, we're treated to a sprinkling of quite competent synth bass, and a very much decent Bob Dylan cover.
"Nobody did it like Hans und Heimlich." - mookid
Hans und Heimlich (H&H), more often than not, received the cold shoulder from the press despite releasing their debut less than several years after Kraftwerk released "Autobahn". Sure, the Bremen pair had same standing-still-at-a-podium jig as their adored compatriots, I will grant you that, but H&H were two and Lou Reed was purportedly a big fan.
"More than anything, Hans und Heimlich were known for their capabilities." - Robert Chistgau
Take a minute when you can to listen to their seminal album "Ja? Ja Ja." Who can forget the bucolic synth sweep on "Heiffer" or the stabby rhythm presets on "Liebe und Vögel und Land." ? Hans und Heimlich's overall sound was nothing if not representative of the tropes of their epoch, but with blind stabs toward an uncertain future. Is that a bass drop on "Halbermann, Halberfisch"? Some proto-mukbang ASMR on "Train from Russian Republic"? Chalk it up to dumb luck, H&H surely had plenty in the tank. While overwhelmed, eclipsed and arguably outdone by their contemporaries, history will recall them as a capable band and one with more love to give. Love always wins and winners write history. This was the deepest kind of love that the market forces and embryonic tastes of the day could not bear.
"I can solemnly say i have witnessed divinity! That first track saved me from a life of debauchery and filth." - Mars Ellis
The group's serious stage stance belied the humor and enigmatic relationships that equipped the bald, podiumed pair's ethos. Fans knows about the time when Hans was in a hurry and got stuck in the Wuppertal rail car on the way to a radio promotion, but not many know Heimlich French-kissed Hans' then fiancée in front of a TV crew while he clawed his way back to the station. Wow! Heimlich, in the meantime, completed the radio show, grabbed a knockwurst, and hopped a train back to Bremen. Stuffed! The pair loved to play practical jokes on one another - light-hearted ones that wouldn't ruin a performance, but would make them awfully awkward. Such was the time Heimlich and one of the roadcrew put opposing strips of velcro behind Hans' podium and the bottom of his Steve Maddens, rendering him unable move his feet the duration of the evening, lest he trip up or make a sound. Awkward! And chew on this: Hans was known to question why his Egg McMuffin® contained no slices of ham while Heimlich's sported two. A mystery to be sure! An unauthorized biography, "Two of a Sort" was released in 1994 and gladly recounts this and other capers.
"Hans was the type to eat cum for bus fare and cycle home." - David Mitchell
Despite remaining the butt of witless jokes among music critiques and degenerate, trustfunded hipster snowflakes, the H&H legacy lives on. During their Spring tour of Europe in 1992, (just after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unfortunate proliferation of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on our radio waves and hi-fi decks) they embarked on would be their final tour of such scale and the one that generated so much of the aforementioned lore. Sadly, the pair has only played on a few occasions since then. A short UK tour in 1998, a pride festival in Nuremburg in 2008 (after which, Heimlich took out a loan intended to construct a new stage and fund costumes for the group and fled to southeast Asia where he now oversees several AirBnBs), and a few private functions. This year's pair of archival releases are a real treat for those of their dedicated fans. Tschüss tschüss!
**Contributor's disclaimer**: It has been brought to my attention on Twitter, the Guardian article from 2013 that revealed Heimlich kicked his teenage daughter out of the house for being gay. Neither myself nor the Critical Punkism team share these views nor endorse this behavior. We believe art has the right to be judged independent of its wellspring. We will however, refrain from posting further H&H pieces.
- Ja? Ja Ja (1979)
- SprachtMaschine (1982)
- Spitze Fischsocken (1983)
- My Cat - 1980