#6 The 39 Clocks – Psycho Beat (1981)

The 39 Clocks were a hugely underrated duo of musicians from Hannover, Germany, whose first public appearance was in 1976 at the Dada Nova in Hannover, a space occupied by the radical AAO Commune. They split in 1983, after recording three albums. Gigs were characterised by Situationist violence and the wilful and chaotic unprofessionalism of the band, but their recorded material was superb. With 1960s garage punk and psychedelic influences, their music also captures the sound of the Velvet Underground at their most dissonant, and the hauntingly spare electronica of legendary pioneering synth-punks, Suicide, (who were clearly a massive influence on them, adopting the New York duo’s confrontational aesthetic). The result is a minimalist Joy Division/ Cabaret Voltaire/ proto-goth noise, which makes it all the stranger that they remain so obscure to this day.  They were often, unfairly, and much to the band’s annoyance, referred to simply as the “German Velvet Underground”, when it is pretty obvious that they took on a lot of influences and forged their own sound, as part of what was dubbed “new German psychedelia”.

clocks

This song appeared on the band’s first album in 1981, Pain It Dark, and  undoubtedly provides the trancey, cascadingly repetitive, minimalist psychedelic template for a host of imitators, such as Spacemen 3, Loop and the Telescopes, to name but a few. Great track.

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