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How To Catch A New Wave

Once again the cost of German success is pissing off the French.
December 1, 2003, 12:00am

Photo of Mathias Modica and Jonas Imbery, aka Munk, taken at Tolarno by Ben Black

Germany is a fascist one-party state of unquestioning obedience, correct? It’s in their blood, right? Wrong! Come on, that’s just plain mean. Most Germans today would swim like a leipziger to avoid being associated with being all rules-y and bossy. So what’s up with Munk (a.k.a. Mathias Modica and Jonas Imbery)? Not that long ago the two heads of Munich’s cult record label Gomma released Teutonik Disaster, their compilation of German new wave and punk funk draped in a sleeve detailing the American, British and Italian flags re-painted with the national colours of Germany. The move didn’t much impress their French distributor. “He refused to sell it in France,” says Mathias. “It was funny because at the same time we had all this reaction from Paris DJs who told us how much they liked the music and artwork”. With heads like Black Strobe and Erol Alkan rocking songs off the compilation, the distributor had no choice but to eventually kowtow (as the French always do) and put it out. Mathias and Jonas learnt a valuable lesson from this encounter, and once it came time for Teutonik Disaster 2, they gave a bit more consideration to the consequences of their artwork. “We took the body of a German World War 1 soldier and connected it with the legs of a French Can-Can dancer girl,” explains Mathias. “That was the point where the distributor stopped co-operation completely.” Losing one measly French distributor can’t put a dent in Munk. In early 2004, they will be releasing their debut album with help from Zongamin, Princess Superstar and James Murphy (of disco punk revivalists DFA). In the meantime they’re promoting a Dada album by gypsy rock band Kamerakino, released on their label Gomma, while also finishing production on the first ever album by graffiti pioneer Rammellzee. For the past three years, Munk have given life to some of the most rare and brilliant music and more importantly they have done it with a brain. It is a powerfull thing when intelligence, good taste and pure talent combine and it is only made better by Munk’s complete disregard for boundaries of any kind. JASON EVANS