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New Releases: Subversiv-Dekadent | Mark Reeder

A collection of tracks featuring New Order, Yello, Birmingham Electric, Liars, Fifi Rong, Alanas Chosnau, Zachery Allan Starkey, Cemetery Sex Fairies, DeerMx, STOLEN and more.

Subversiv-Dekadent is the classification given to Mark Reeder in his STASI (the dreaded official state security service of the German Democratic Republic, A.K.A. East Germany) file.

The Subversiv-Dekadent Album cover photo was taken by Mark Reeder at the Mayday parade in Communist East Berlin in 1982, just minutes before he was hauled off by the STASI for illegally walking into the parade and trying to take a photo of the Premier, Erich Honecker.

The STASI had been following Mark all day, and their curiosity immediately went into full alert, when Mark unexpectedly entered, what was otherwise an officially organized Mayday parade, intending to march with the members of the Socialist State’s Arbeiterklasse. They believed this Englishman, with a penchant for wearing unconventional clothing, had a clandestine Agenda: To the corrupt youth of East Germany with music…West-musik.

And they were somewhat right. Mark’s activities in the East included organizing illegal punk concerts, smuggling music cassette tapes and co-presenting British TV programs. But for the recipients of Mark’s activities, it wasn’t corruption, it was more like an education. An introduction into an unknown musical World that was officially forbidden, A World that had previously been unobtainable for them.

The 80s were tense and troubled times. East versus West. A super-power struggle that ensured that both sides could exterminate each other many, many times, over. But then, in 1989, the Berlin wall fell and everyone believed that the threat of nuclear holocaust had finally been lifted and we were going to enter into a better, more open-minded future World.

It is a dark twist of fate that in the 21 st century humanity is still struggling with the same kind of power-hungry leaders, killer diseases, war, famine, climate ignorance, isolation, religious intolerance, racism, homophobia, nationalism and weapons of mass destruction, that we believed would leave behind with the 20th century.

The idea of nations being driven into conflict by power, corruption and lies, or simply by a leader’s decision to divide and rule by seeking out a minority group to blame for everyone’s misfortune, while they conduct their dirty business behind closed doors, is nothing new, but we hoped would be ancient history.

Subversiv-Dekadent is a humble but welcome way to celebrate internationalism, just like the illegal punk concerts ad smuggled cassette tapes, It is Mark’s way to break down barriers and cross-borders collaboration with music.

The album opens and closes with the melancholic beauty of Beijing-born, London-based Fifi Rong collaborations with Mark with the songs ‘Figure of 8’ and ‘Future Never Comes’. Mark first met Fifi at a Yello gig in Berlin, where she was performing on stage with the Duo. At a small private performance in a Berlin bar the following evening, he discovered just how talented she is as a musician in her own right and, after her gig, they decided to work on a few songs together.

Another Far-East Asian representative featured on Subversiv-Dekadent is Stolen, a highly successful young band from Chengdu, China. They are one of China’s most well-known bands in the West, having performed as the support act for New Order during their European tour of 2019. Mark and his studio partner Micha Adam produced their highly praised album Fragment and remixed ‘The Loop Sin’ especially for this album.

New Order, a Manchester institution and one of the best known post-punk artists, needs no introduction Their latest single ‘Be A Rebel’ was initially written during their Music Complete Album sessions, but never finished. The first Coronavirus lockdown in 2020 finally gave them time to revisit it. Mark was asked to remix it, with his ‘Dirty Devil Remix’ available online, but his ‘Cheeky Devil Remix version’ is a treat exclusive to this album.

Representing Switzerland, are the illustrious duo of Dieter Meier and Boris Blank A.K.A. the influential electronic band Yello with their 80’s classic Vicious Games. The original Yello version is an intricately woven patchwork of samples, held together by the rich, resonant voice of Rush Winters, Mark version seeks to emphasize the beautiful and hidden vocal performance and breathe new life into it.

Liars are an eclectic avant-garde art-group from Australia, fronted by their eccentric vocalist, Angus Andrew. Their sound is often disjointed, dark and threatening. Marks remix for ‘Staring at Zero’ is equally dark, but it is held together by a pulsating, fuzzed-to-fuck bass guitar and throbbing bass sequencer.

MFU (Modern Family Unit) is an exceptional band from Manchester. They were introduced to Mark by legendary Author and DJ, Dave Haslam, where they recorded ‘Mmm Mmm Mmm Aghh’ for Mark’s Mauerstadt album. ‘Law’ This is their second outing together.

‘I Surender’ brings an old collaborator and friend of Mark, a member of the French Trance Resistance, Mr Sam. He originally wrote and recorded this song with Australian singer Rani Karmal. Mark was always enthralled by her captivating voice. Mark decided to rewrite the music, sample Rani’s vocal, bring the tempo down, replay and rearrange it to show what a beautiful love song this truly is.

The Cemetery Sex Fairies originate from a grave-yard somewhere in Bonn, West Germany. ‘Tanz Allein’ was originally featured on their debut album The Liquid Source of Joy and Horror. Their electronic-rock driven sentimental sound with its dead-pan Deutsche vocals, create an atmosphere of grave gleichgultigkeit.

Birmingham Electric, a multi-national synthpop duo, comes with ‘How Do We End Up Here?’. Their electrifying singer and frontman Andrew Evans, is originally from the USA, but lives and works in Holland, and performs together with OMD’s Malcolm Holmes. Their attractive mixture of post-punk-synthpop has a familiar feel to it, without being contrived.

Liz Morphew, Queen of Hearts frontfrau, has also enjoyed a long-standing creative relationship with Mark Reeder. They composed a couple of songs together for her magnificent debut album Cocoon. Neon was originally featured on Collaborator, the Mark Reeder compilation album released on Factory Benelux, and which was available on CD only. ‘Neon’ gets its digital debut on Subversiv-Dekadent.

Mesmerizing psychedelik-synth duo, The KVB are now from Manchester, seeing that they recently moved there from Berlin. Mark worked together with The KVB writing the intro song for his previous Mauerstadt album. This favorite of Mark is a song from their album Of Desire, and it was originally remixed for the ‘White Walls 12’ single. This Subversiv-Dekadent version is a slightly different alt. mix.

New York based, multi-instrumentalist Zachery Allan Starkey supported New Order on their America tour in 2018 and has worked together with Bernard Sumner on his latest Album Fear City, a dystopian audio-vision of New York. ‘Coked Up Biker Anthem’ is a chrome-heavy, high-speed track snorted off Zachery’s Album.

Deer Mx’s ‘Dead Souls’ is a favorite of mine since its release last year. Mark’s mix transformed a fast-paced post-punk anthem in a dark tension builder that highlights Adriana Martinez’s potent vocals in the chorus. This Mexican experimental, classically trained, darkwave synth band are currently living in Hong Kong, as they were stranded there after playing a gig before the unrest started, and all their flights were canceled.

‘Love of My Life’, with Lithuanian singer Alanas Chosnau, is taken Alanas and Mark’s highly acclaimed album Children of Nature and specially remixed for this album by Mark Reeder & Micha Adam. Mark met Alanas at a film festival in Vilnius and shortly after, they started to work together.

Last but not least, Mark gives us two solo tracks that showcase his abilities as composer and producer: ‘21st Century Girl’ and ‘You Can Touch Me’.

Although compilation albums tend to be, for most listeners, an inconsistent experience, as the featured artists have different styles that may please different tastes, Mark’s production/mixing intervention and personal view on every track gives Subversiv-Dekadent a more cohesive feel and is a must for his fans and post-punk music lovers at large.

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