New York Passage (Your Turn to Run)

Say what you will about the bloodless electroclash/no wave resurgence. Lard knows I have. Watching its rise in popularity in post 9-11 New York City, I experienced what can only be described as an excruciating kind of soul death. It still makes me a bit nauseated to admit that in the wake of The Tower, my generation of NYC rock musicians had nothing better to offer up than this cocaine-spritzed, head-in-the-sand, garage schlocky, post post post punk photocopy of a bootleg of a cover rendition of a vibrant cultural scene populated by non-derivative bands 30 years ago. (The documentary Kill Your Idols offers an unflinching assessment of this phenomenon. Highly recommended.)

Still, there’s some truth to that whole “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” spiel, and it was nice to go to downtown clubs where beautiful, artfully tweezed and ever-mysterious DJs with asymmetrical hair spun vintage wax nightly: ESG, DNA, Contortions, Foetus, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, Swans, beloved Klaus, etc. Cool non-Manhattanites –oh, ‘scuse me, I meant to say Honorary Citizens of the Center of the Known Universe– like the Birthday Party, Lene Lovich, Nina Hagen, and Malaria! were in heavy rotation as well. Which brings us, in a roundabout way, to the point of this post. (Heh. Sorry.)

Founded in early ’81, Malaria! was led by Bettina Koester and Gudrun Gut, and filled out with Manon P. Dursma, Christine Hahan and Susanne Kuhnke. I’m a longtime fan of theirs, but I hadn’t seen this gorgeous homemade Super 8 video for their song off the 12inch New York Passage: Your Turn to Run until recently:


directed by Dieter Hormel, Brigitte B├╝hler, Gudrun Gut

Is it just me, or is this footage reminiscent of something non-narrative filmmakers like Brakhage, Anger or Morrison might shoot? You know… if they were young, fierce and scrumptiously German in 1982. Dang! Both Gut and Koester are still actively making music, and having watched “Your Turn to Run”, I’m actually grumblingly grateful to the Bedford Avenue acoyltes of electro for their role in bringing the band renewed recognition.

14 Responses to “New York Passage (Your Turn to Run)”

  1. q gauti Says:

    ha! after reading the first paragraph, i was ready to come out with a spirited ‘Oooo, diss!’, but hey – thanks for bringing this wonderful bit of nostalgia to wider attention!

  2. Mark Says:

    Anger, yes definitely…Derek Jarman too, in places. Tenuous though the comparison may sound at first, certain odd frames in the Malaria! film really reminded me of a handful of similarly composed ones from Jubilee, itself shot back in ’77…

    Good find, cheers Mer!

  3. Joshua Ellis Says:

    Randomly amusing…in my RSS reader, Coilhouse is right next to David Byrne’s blog. I accidentally clicked on Coilhouse, meaning to click on Byrne, and when I read your first sentence I thought it was Byrne, issuing the beatdown to all the shitty Williamsburg bands ripping off Talking Heads and the other bands of his generation. I started laughing maniacally…and then realized it was Coilhouse, which made more sense. (Byrne strikes me as a bit too non-confrontational to open a can of whupass very often, and he probably likes all those bands anyway.)

    Just struck me as funny.

  4. Skerror Says:

    Hehe, yeah, this was a total bad cop/good cop blog. First paragraph had my blood boiling…post-Tower chickenshitting photocopy pastiche is still flooding the market in so many culture facets. We’re crawling our way back slowly but surely tho me thinx :)

    Cool video. Angery most definitely. Looks like what I imagine would happen if Anger went and hung out in the Fassbinder circle for awhile. They’d all spend a few months blowing the production budget on drinkin, druggin, and severely abusing each others emotions…then crunch time comes and Anger would take what they DID manage to shoot into the edit bay and make it work. Then the production company would give them money to go do it again ;)

  5. Mer Says:

    Aaahahaha. Skerror, that’s a spot-on assessment. Bravo.

    Derek Jaman… I know that name. *googles it* Oh YEAH! The videographer! I think I’ve seen some of the footage he shot of the Sex Pistols. Definitely familiar with all of the Pet Shop Boys and Smiths videos, natch. Will have to find Jubilee. (Do you know… is that a reference to the Silver Jubilee club?)

    Q Gauti, yes, the snark flows a bit too freely when I reminisce about my time in NYC in the early 00s. It’s cheaper than therapy. Thanks for bearing with me. :)

  6. Mer Says:

    Daaawwww:

  7. Mark Says:

    Derek Jarman is probably best known for Blue (1993), largely because it pissed off and enchanted people in equal measure. By being, essentially, a film of…uh, blueness.
    http://www.h2so4.net/reviews/blue.html

    I’ll send you a copy of Jubilee if you like Mer – just so happens I have three. Dull story, doesn’t involve rampant fanboyism. Just forgetful relatives.

  8. Shay Says:

    Hewh, I was also going to rave about how none of this is new, and in fact, electroclash has pretty much died out as a genre in the past couple of years (with a few remnants in the minimal techno/electrohouse scene), but I also appreciate the linkstalgia :)

  9. el Says:

    They sound a bit like a darker Kleenex/Liliput. I like!

  10. joshua Says:

    you get mad props for this one. it is a very well known fact that that “your turn to run was” my theme song when i was the resident dj at brownies, and at my sunday night post punk party “aux armes” held black and white back in 2001-2003.
    i used to dance around and do the handclaps. i loved this single so much that i own 3 copies, because i started to wear it out from spinning it so much.

    i also plan on marrying gudrun gut one day, she’s amazing.

    -joshua…

  11. joshua Says:

    wow. there are so many grammatical errors in my post, it’s absurd. my deepest apologies everyone.

  12. Mer Says:

    Mark, I’d love that, thank you! Blue sounds depressingly great.

    Shay, I’m definitely referring to all of this in the past tense. :) Basically anyone who was, like, you know, like, REALLY into next-generation electronica has since grown a beard and started listening to, like, Coco Rosie or like, you know, She Wants Revenge. Like, yeah…

    Joshua. You know what cracks me up? You were totally one of the mysterious dj’s with fancy hair at Brownies (which I was still sporadically attending up through ’03), only I had no idea who you were.

  13. Shay Says:

    I resent that; I have no beard. =]

    I still say electroclash is, like, sooo five years ago.

  14. Mer Says:

    I still say electroclash is, like, sooo five years ago.

    Dude. No one’s disagreeing with you. :)