That Was The Wump That Was
In 2011, Rudy’s idea pool ran dry. Schrekk & Grauss is the result – the cartoon-horror graphics, the clumsy title, the now-standard mix of German and English songs, Aleta Welling’s token contribution to backing vocals and the feeling that Rudy is just programming some loops and adding stuff until there’s enough in the mix. There’s no excitement, no energy, no feeling of being treated to anything special. The only track of any note is Jiddisch Is A Zwilink, a colab with French neo-volkers Gae Bolg, some clever wordplay and unconventional instrumentation allowing this one at least to stand out. I don’t think I ever went back to any of the other tracks until dredging them up to write this thing, and still couldn’t find anything too say about them..
Versions: For those who still give a damn – CD, vinyl and double CD box set as standard, the box set now coming with bonus downloadable mixes, as if you didn’t have enough already. Bandcamp download appeared online later for those with big hard drives and small shelves. Of the remixes, most are lumbered with the lifeless title track, and no-one has any good ideas about how to rescue it. As a result, the only good mixes are the ‘total overhauls’. AmGod successfully creates an dense electro-industrial storm with fragments of “Jiddisch Is A Zwillink”, and Gae Bolg once again comes to the rescue by converting the pathetic “Zombibikini” into a quirky march, dispensing with almost all of the original, even re-recording the vocals in French. And it’s very sad to say – “No loss”.
Onto 2012 and Women and Satan First. If you can ignore the vulgar cover art, it’s another album that makes a positive first impression. Opener Hallelujah avoids the clichés, an ironic prayer offered by a multitude of voices before that inevitable descent into that hell otherwise known as “the rest of the album”. The second, title track is at least superficially catchy, despite embracing EVERY Wumpcut cliché this time – just in case you thought you put the wrong album on. And that’s about as good as it’s going to get.
Rudy obviously wants Grobian to be the centrepiece, throbbing hard for its six minute forty second duration. Yet, no matter how many times I listened, I couldn’t figure out its appeal or purpose. Then I established the title was a Middle High German term for ‘coarse and vulgar’. I took one more look at the cover art (roll with the cringes!), another look at a tracklist offering such delights as Kill That Little Fuck and Cunnilingus Creutzfeuer and it all made sense. Whilst previous use of such crude influences (“Ich Will Dich” springs to mind) used shock factor as a method to enhance the music, such tactics are now being used as the entire purpose of the album. And I’m not falling for it.
Versions: You guessed, various CD versions, limited vinyl and box set, now with a 17-mix download collection. Concentrated Camp delivering the full payload later. With 33 mixes in to choose from, you’d expect there to be something worth a listen here. Well, there isn’t – I went through the lot a couple of time on a long train journey last summer, and didn’t find a single mix I wanted to come back to. Maybe it was the fact that the lesser songs were picked out for rework, or maybe it’s down to the fact that Rudy has been largely deserted by the scene establishment by this point, but when the highlight is Yendri earnestly trying to make “Kill That Little Fuck” melodic or Memmaker trying to work C-64 sounds into the execrable “Cunnilingus Creutzfeuer”, you know something is seriously wrong.
As for 2013’s Madman Szpital, I’ll cut straight to the point. One good track. Tod Essen Leben Auf is a truly successful dark electronic anthem, intermeshing organ tones with Eurodance pizzicato and an energising rhythm. So, stream that one, download it, rip it, whatever you lot do these days. The rest? Well, the title track attempts originality with a jazzy basement vibe, but it’s a total mismatch for the standard issue harsh vocal. The remainder consists of the usual mix of hard rhythms and dark electronic experimentation, providing nothing of note until the final three tracks. And then we finally hit what seems to be rock bottom.
Moshe Tokoloshe might have been a solid mid-tempo blast if its lyrics made any sense at all, but I suspect Rudy is back to making up words again, only lacking the finesse of times past. I wish he was making up the lyrical content of Du Neger, but no, he’s finally resorted to ethnic slurs as a shock tactic. And Vegan Witch? Well, that’s offensive to two groups of people well represented amongst potential readers of this piece. Pronouncing it “wegan” doesn’t help, mate. The final nail in the coffin for the album – there are points where it references classic songs such as “Golgotha” and “Capital Punishment”, a fleeting reminder of the better days, and a final confirmation of how far the mighty have fallen.
But it gets worse.
Versions: CD, LP and boxset version, the latter with the downloadable extras later featured on the Concentrated Camp. In a desperate attempt to get with the trends, nay, fads of the time, Nigen chuck in a couple of stuttering dubstep abominations. The usual suspects put in the remainder, with one glorious exception. The only band with a Terminates Here connection to appear in this enitre story – Schramm – take “Tod Essen Leben Auf”, add the supersaw synth leads and ups the dancefloor crediential of this sole highlight several notches further.
If certain online reviews of 2014’s Bulwark Bazooka are to be believed, this album is the return to glory we’ve all been waiting for, that once-in-four-years throwback to better times (after Cannibal 2006 and Siamese 2010). But said reviews are to be found on sites like Amazon and Discogs, who only want you to buy the thing. OK, it does partially increase the quotient of upbeat, club-oriented tunes and that might be appealing to the casual listener. But under the surface, all we’re getting is a slightly varied take on the formula of the past few years. Rubber Corpse and Supergurl want to be industrial-strength stormers, but the hooks just aren’t hooking. Cross of Iron (sorry, Eye-ron) does the usual slow, snarling stomp we get at least once per album but that kind of thing is over and done by this point. The rest is take-or-leave with signs pointing to ‘leave’.
The real problem here? The last three albums might not have impressed, but their low-key nature at least meant you never expected them to deliver the big hitters anyway. This album actually tries to make you like it, but it’s a forced, contrived attempt at capturing the past. It’s a mere facsimile of what made Wumpscut great – the replacement bus service to Slaughtering Tribes bullet train, the house of cards to Bunkertor 7’s fortifications, the vegan (sorry, WEgan) bratwurst to Embryodead’s raw meat. Wumpscut has always been synthetic, but it’s never been THIS ersatz. More to the point – Every time I’ve listened to this album, it’s just zipped past without making the slightest impact, an impact it clearly WANTS to make. That’s worse than pissing me off.
Versions: Not going to repeat myself as it’s the same options as normal, and nothing worth hearing on any version, so save your Euros. About the only notable thing was a Velvet Acid Christ remix, which was possibly provided as a return favour for VAC getting permission to play “Is It You” on tour. Should have put a recording of that on instead!
It was possibly at this point that Rudy realised that the game was almost up. 2015’s BlutSpuker Tavern was a slight improvement on recent efforts, as if he was putting in a final push to get something half-decent out there before his music career came to an end. Whilst this is no meisterwerk, the composition of the individual tracks has at least found some direction once more. For instance, That Was The Life That Was is an uncomplicated blast, all synth fuzz, hard beats and a memorable refrain in the title, even if it does turn out to be the name of David Frost’s authorised biography (who had died two years previously, but not In Winter).
I only worked out his connection because, two of Frost’s former scriptwriters (later members of Monty Python) get sampled in Bucket of Perceptions, though it’s otherwise an undercooked dud on the Tavern’s menu. A selection which is otherwise offering wholesome Wumpscut fayre, sustaining but not the kind of thing you’d recommend to all and sundry. A personal standout is Basilius Fleischlein, one of Rudy’s occasional “get mixed up with words and language” pieces, but this is an album where you’ll pick whichever aspect of this projects sound you like the most, and gravitate there.
Versions: The usual CD and LP regular albums, box set with additional download, and the whole lot available as a Concentrated Camp. Once again, we suffer from too few artists putting in too many remixes, with Advent Resilience reworking almost every track. The most interesting remixes again come from the less-obvious contributors who realise there’s no need to stick to hard electronic styles just because that’s the sound of the source project. The standard-issue album track “Gangraen” is the best example – be it orchestrated by Alexandre Guiraud & Cold Noise or stripped down to minimal textures by John Bérb-Eluha and At My Fireplace.
The last Wumpscut album in a series of annuals stretching back to 2004 was 2016’s Wüterich, and with it came a feeling that a difficult journey was finally at an end. No more cover art shock tactics, most of the songs in German, and a final shot at rebuilding one’s music integrity. And as a coda to the chronological part of this story, it works. My Leper Kid works a distinctly groovy guitar into the usual industrial crash’n’bash, Hackfleischprinzessin is Rudy’s best female-vocal song for many years and Warmonger Scheusal is the umpteenth entry in the mid-tempo grind category, sampled references to acts of military aggression bringing to variety to the somewhat repetitive music.
True, the album does still lose direction in places, though not as often as the some of the aimless releases from a few years previous. Also, there’s still nothing here that had any chance of making a real mark in the industrial scene of 2016, but it was too much to ask. One man in a studio in Bavaria can only create so much, and his lack of live performances and otherwise reclusive nature meant he was never going to stay ‘in tune’ with the popular scene sounds of the time. That life wasn’t for him.
Versions: Usual CD and LP version plus boxset with bonus CD and download option, with Concentrated Camp offered one final bandwidth-stretching epic. The remixes here are reasonably interesting, though it’s now an album where we really want to hear Wumpscut being Wumpscut for the last time. The tracklist is filled out with Beatel (beats only), Floating Mixes (no beats) and Instrumental mixes of the whole album – why not just release the remix packs separately?
In 2017, Rudy Ratzinger announced his retirement from music, but not before curating his own legacy, releasing a vast quantity of material on Bandcamp, selling it for 5 Euros an album, ensuring that he’d continue to earn at least something from his backcatalogue after he quit. Only he didn’t stay quit forever. A comeback album was announced a few years later, though few outside his usual hard core of devoted fans had much hope that it was a return to greatness as well as music.
Fledermaus 303 emerged in 2021, the title a tribute to the Roland bass synth that the inlay would have you believe was used at least once on every track. An iconic bit of kit, especially if you’re into tweakin’ and tweetin’ acid resonance, but in this day and age, it’s a device with little creativity left in it. You could say the same thing about Rudy Ratzinger. Whilst not quite descending to his early-10s nadir, there’s still too many clumsy song titles (Squeal Lie A Pig, I Am Coronaer), undeveloped ideas and a general feeling of ‘Will this do?’.
The fact that the majority of the album is in German is something of a relief, as I’m spared having to know what most of these songs are about. The nearest we get to a hook is the unsubtle opening number Nazi Tabernakel. Sure, Nazi’s might be a valid target and have been since the 1930s – they’re just a really obvious target. Mid-album, there’s a slow march Nein Nein which I confess I did return to a few times, but the remainder is heard-it-before-don’t-need-to-again. To be fair, the German scene is full of artists who essentially repeat the same album every few years, but that gambit requires a modicum of real songwriting talent to pull off. A concept-driven artist like Wumpscut can’t get away with that.
Versions: The album was released in various CD, LP and downloadable forms. No box sets any more. If you want the obligatory job lot of remixes, you’ll need to check out DJ Dwarf 21.
If you think this is the end of the story though, think again. There’s plenty of material that was released outside of the main album series. Indeed, almost every note he’s recorded is available somewhere. And that’s where we’re going next.