T.RAUMSCHMIERE with WABI at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Thursday (November 13). $12 advance. 416-532-1598. Rating: NNNNN
T. Raumschmiere (aka Marco Haas) is a punk - a Berlin-based punk who's known in techno circles, who puts out records on techno labels and makes music with synths, samplers and sequencers, but is still a punk rock brat in every other way. The T. Raumschmiere pseudonym is a William S. Burroughs reference, the label he helped found is called Shitkatapult, and his new album opens with a song called I'm Not Deaf, I'm Ignoring You. He looks like a dirty trucker, or maybe a white-trash crystal meth chemist, and makes his synth bass lines shred like power chords through Marshall stacks.
Imagine a monster truck smashing through the walls of a rave and terrorizing all the candy kids with a wall of distorted bass lines and robot rock beats.
There are noisier and faster electronic artists out there, but few rock with the same kind of snarling attitude as Haas. His edge may come from playing drums in Mos Eisley Rock (also known as Crack Whore Society, which Haas names as his favourite band), but a solid grasp of the principles of house and techno also helps keep him on the fun side of the avant-garde.
Since getting picked up by Novamute, Haas sounds even more like a balls-out three-piece rock band as imitated by a computer that's been kicked down the stairs. The new album, Radio Blackout, features a great guest vocal by Miss Kittin on The Game Is Not Over and a somewhat out-of-place hiphop track with vocals by MC Soom T, but the rest is instrumental, with the emphasis on the mental.
Think of the soundtracks of 80s video games, when they were trying to program a rock song for a racing game. Put that odd, robotic shuffle through a distortion pedal, add some horror-movie atmospherics and disorienting, glitchy stutters, and now you're getting close to what he's pushing these days.
There are still a few techno and electro tracks in there, but even they're gritty, raw and stripped down.
When I first met Haas a couple of years back, he was amused at the different crowds he was playing to in the U.S. In some cities, reserved "artsy" crowds stood around and stared, while other places saw him playing to ravers. In Toronto he tends to attract the minimal techno crowd, but it would be more appropriate if the Kensington Market punks were to discover him.
Asked what he thinks people should be doing while listening to his new album, he bluntly responds, "They should shut up. For 43.03 minutes."
In real life he's not quite as confrontational, and can actually be relatively friendly, but from T. Raumschmiere you have to expect a bit of attitude.
Ask him about techno and you get, "I don't care about techno, so there's nothing to hate."
He might not seem like the most marketable artist to add to Novamute's electronic roster, but these are strange times in dance music, and unlike the vast majority of DJs, he's at least got personality. Just don't try to relate his work to electroclash, or he might have to fight you.