Cobra Killer
76/77, CD

Cobra Killer, a female twosome from Berlin, seem to be en vogue in trendy circles. This must have to do with Cobra Killer's relentlessly distributed retro chic, both music- and fashionwise.

Gina and Annika, the protagonists in Cobra Killer, have roamed Berlin's underground scene for years if not decades. Both of them have participated in bands and musical projects before forming Cobra Killer in 1998. With Cobra Killer, they rely on the power of a sampler, a rhythm box, diverse musical collaborators and their infamous energetic stage shows. Their debut album and a follow-up 7-inch single have been released on Alec Empire's Digital Hardcore label, the current release "76/77" and its predecessor have seen the light of day via Monika Enterprises, the record label run by Gudrun Gut, once bass player and drummer with legendary bands like Malaria and Einstuerzende Neubauten.

Now, there's a connection to the past already. Indeed, the concept behind Cobra Killer is firmly rooted in the tradition of various German New Wave bands from the late 1970ies and early 1980ies, bands like Liaisons Dangereuses, DAF, or, well, Malaria. Supposedly, the album title is to suggest just that: 1976 and 1977 were the years when the British Punk explosion had reached Germany and created a fertile breeding ground for a young and rebellious alternative music scene. Cobra Killer are strongly addicted to the sound aesthetics of that time: compact song structures, harsh and simple electronic sequences, repetitive Dada-style lyrics. They' ve added a touch of 1960ies' chic, too: think plastic furniture, space rockets and Russ Meyer's ultravixens, lewd and crude.

But after all, it's music that matters, right? So Cobra Killer scorch through eleven rebel anthems in less than fourty minutes, and in doing so, they don't always sound convincing. Take "High is the Pine" for an example, an almost mainstream-like pop ballad lacking the Cobra's bite completely. "I like it when it burns a bit" is a bit of a disappointment, too - a boring guitar riff repeated over and over again, accompanied by the enervating recital of the words from the song title. On the other hand, "Ledercouch", an energetic cover version of DAF-offshoot DAF.DOS's "Marzahn", could be a real winner for Cobra Killer: a screeching and booming synth sequence, topped with highly memorable lyrics.

This song also serves as a good example that Cobra Killer's strength actually lies in the combination of noisy electronic backdrop and saucy trash-pop lyrics. Whenever they move too far from this basic concept, however weird the musical idea may be, their energy wanes and the end result sounds a bit too calculated. At the end of the day, with highs and lows evenly distributed, "76/77" is certainly not a must-have album that oozes attitude out of every pore - that said, some of the songs do have addictive qualities and could well live beyond the hype.

(rh 07/MMIV)

Label: Monika Enterprises
>> Monika Website


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