ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Four Germans, a brilliant record called “Dr Mabuse” and a very strange video. Theres a word for it all… Propaganda.

At last! A group thats genuinely different. Propaganda are two boys and two girls from Dusseldorf, Germany. They dont play traditional instruments but, instead, “act as a team to think up ideas, single and program the electronics”.

All this should come as no surprise if youve heard their first single, “Dr Mabuse”, or seen the accompanying video. Its a fantastically strange and powerful song thats drenched in European mystery and grandeur. Trevor Horns production gives it that epic feel, while photographer Anton Corbijns video (in black and white!) thickens the spooky plot with masses of weird images: monks, abandoned churchyards, banks of fog and a ghostly hand that swoops around attacking unsuspecting bystanders.

Its all in keeping with the image of their record company, ZTT, the people who brought you Frankie Goes To Hollywoods “Relax”. So what, you might ask, is all this in aid of? And who is Dr Mabuse? Suzanne, spokesperson for the group—i.e. she speaks the best English—explains.

“Hes an evil character from a classic 1920s/30s German film, but weve put him in a modern setting. In those days the character was a warning against Fascist politics, but in this context he could be businessman, possibly. We think its sad,” she adds, “that European culture has been replaced with that of America. All people cam remember about Germany is The War but, before that, there was a great movement with great art, designers and filmmakers. Propaganda is a move back to those sort of roots.”

Previously the girls were in a group called Topolinos, the Italian name for Mickey Mouse. Then, 18 months ago they joined up with Ralf and Andreas to form Propaganda—the name means “a small unit communicating their ideas to the masses”. And then, “by chance”, they signed to ZTT last year. A “fortunate” move for the group who set out to “create a new form of music that will hopefully reach a big audience”.

Still, it hasnt forced them to give up their day jobs. Suzannes a freelance goldsmith (as was Nena), Claudias hard at it doing the German equivalent of A-levels, Ralf works in a bank and Andreas is a DJ, although hes currently out of work.

“We all like to have work outside music,” says Suzanne rather curiously, “because it can sometimes take you far away from reality.”

She said it, not me!