V/A – Vs. Kirlian Camera: Kalte Container

A band that has such a long and interesting history as Kirlian Camera deserves a biography and a tribute cd. Kalte Container was also available as a limited box with extra material, but I have the ‘regular’ version, with a 100 page book and a cd with 13 artists covering KC songs.

The book is well-done: it contains many nice photos and is also very readable. First it contains an extensive biography, from the early musical efforts of Angelo Bergamini in the 70’s till their most recent releases in the 21st century. It is followed by separate interviews with Bergamini and female singers Emilia Lo Jacono and Elena Fossi.

In the music of Kirlian Camera there always has been a tension between avantgarde and pop. Accesible records have been alternated with more experimental periods. The band has had chart succes for some time, but later managed to convince a more underground audience. In the music this combination remains present. To quote the biography: “The defining characteristic of Kirlian Camera is their natural pop attitude which is explored through full experimentation in the underground scene”. Cold electronic music has been their trademark throughout their career, sometimes with poppy meolodies, sometimes more experimental.

Some attention is given to the controversial, even ‘rightwing’ image of the band. When reading the history of the band in this book it becomes clear that this is not really something they deserve. This is also the opinion of the biographer, who found no evidence for extreme rightwing tendencies with the band, in fact, most bandmembers openly proclaim to have left-wing political sympathies. Discrimination is also something the band cannot be accused of, since they worked together with various Jewish and black musicians.

The biography of Kirlian Camera is fascinating to read. In 1973 Bergamini already joined a pioneering death metal band. Soon after he started making electronic music with the band Sepulchrum Dei, with avantgarde music and shocking performances. His first succes as a solo musician came when he did concerts at benefit festivals of the communist parties in the late 70’s. Around that time he also began to suffer from psychological problems and had to stay in hospitals various times. In 1980 Kirlian Camera was formed, with female singer Simona Buja, with who Bergamini married after some time. Throughout the 80’s everything was chaotic around the band. Bandmembers came and went, and so did labels and producers. Bergamini and Buja split up, and their was a constant search for female singers. KC suffered from a lot of bad luck in their first years of existence.

With a few singles they managed to get commercial succes though, and they appeared in popular magazines.In 1982 Bergamini had a side project called Hypnosis, which scored a no. 1 hit in Germany and even in South America and Japan it was a big hit! Kirlian Camera was even signed to the big Virgin label. Kirlian Camera wasn’t commercial enough though for Virgin, after the Heldenplatz album they left the label. In 1990 Emilia Lo Jiacono joined the band (and also became Bergamini’s new partner).

In 1993 a new succesful period started, with many concerts in Europe. They signed to the German Discordia and scored a big hit in the gothic scene in 1994 with ‘Eclipse’. Since then the band released various albums that all were received well. A best of double cd was released a few years ago, called ‘The Ice Curtain’. I wonder what the future will bring for Kirlain Camera… In the coming months some of their early recordings will be re-released…
On the tribute cd some of KC’s finest songs are present, covered by well known bands from the gothic/industrial scene, like Wumpscut doing ‘Eclipse’. Luckily most bands chose to do it in their own style and not copy the originals. That means the end result is a very varied compilation! I will not discuss every song in detail here, but some of my favourites are: Naevus, with a folky rendition of ‘After Winter’, Zosma with a technoid version of ‘Heldenplatz’, Leisure Hive doing ‘Nightship 451’ and as worthy end Kirlian Camera themselves with a great new version the classic ‘Blue Room.

artist: V/A
label: Radio Luxor
details: compilation cd (13 tracks) + book