Always an intelligent, "thinking man's" industrial group, in 1993 Einsturzende Neubauten released "Tabula Rasa", the first hint of the quiet, more melodic direction that would dominate their music afterwards until the present. As a result, it's a perfect blend of their older, more aggressive style and this new approach. All of the lyrics are brilliant, and very visual and descriptive even after translation, which really says something about Blixa's skill in this area. It's also a very diverse, yet balanced album. Each track must be discussed individually.
"Die Interimsliebenden" is a groovy, bass guitar driven tune. Blixa's vocal performance makes the song with its infectious energy.
"Zebulon" is driven by melodic guitars and guitar noise. Layers of vocal overdub build until its triumphant rhythmic ending. Shows EN's ability to write a catchy melody that isn't annoying or cheesy.
"Blume" is a hypnotic, pretty song with no rhythm except what is created by the steady guitar harmonics that form the ambient cloud the song sits on. The guest female vocalist unfortunately has an accent that makes her hard to take seriously. The versions in alternate languages found on the "Malediction" EP are as a result better. However, this is still a beautiful song.
"12305(te Nacht)" is a little harsher, with its muffled electronic percussion. The song's topic, as someone else mentioned... a snapshot in time. This 12,305th night of Blixa's life. The song has a martial feel with some dramatic synth in its second half.
"Sie" is next, and a highlight. It's an anxious, percolating track with a ravey sort of atmosphere, yet very light rhythms. Two different processed voices weave in and out of the song, playing different characters in a vague but evocative story (read the translation, it's beautiful) elaborating on a romantic relationship, and metaphorical rambling about ruins, nighttime, and so many other things which could have political meanings, but are surely intensely multi-interpretable.
"Wuste" is beatless, consisting only of shimmering, ruffling noises and dark strings. It sounds just like waiting on a beach in the dark for a boat to return.
"Headcleaner": Part 1 is a well-placed, absolutely brutal finale. It's clear something is different from the opening metallic squall. The song picks up and introduces Blixa's catchy shout of "HEEEEEEAAADCLEANER" before breaking down into microtonal, minimal, avant garde chime melodies. The noise comes back for the end, where Blixa sings in English for the first time on the album is huge dramatic effect. Part 2 is much different, and is one of the subtlest pieces on the album.
"Tabula Rasa" is flawless, a masterpiece. One of many solid EN albums, yes, but the only one to so perfectly integrate the old with the new. Highly recommended.