Among the lesser known dark-electro/post-punk bands of
the early 1980s, the Berlin duo VONO really stood out.
The radical nature of their music, the cold sound and
sparse lyrics – VONO were arguably on a par with the
more prominent ambassadors of the genres (DAF,
Liaisons Dangereuses etc). Extreme even for the early
eighties, their minimalism was constructed purely on
synthesizers and heavy on bass. With lyrics to match,
their debut album 'Dinner für 2' was unique.
Auspicious beginnings for VONO back in 1982 offered no
warning that the name would later fade into relative obscurity.
Two brothers, Norbert and Volker Schultze, founded the
project in the late seventies. They generated a substantial
following in the cooler clubs of Berlin, playing a huge number
of notoriously loud gigs.
It was their producer Stephan Kaske who pointed them in the
direction of legendary German label Sky Records (home to
seminal albums by Cluster, Brian Eno, Michael Rother,
Conrad Schnitzler, Asmus Tietchens etc.). Kaske had
released records of his own on the label, under the name of
Mythos. Sales of VONO’s debut album vastly exceeded
expectations, to the satisfaction of the musicians and the
label. Nevertheless, the brothers chose to embellished the
sound of their sophomore work with guitar and drums, moving
closer towards rock music.
Given its consistently minimalist ethos, 'Dinner für 2' is
surprisingly varied. Dark and danceable electropop dominates,
but spherical sounds and gentler moments are also there to
be found. The songs are, for the most part, built on a framework
of just one or two recurring bass patterns or melodies,
coupled with lyrics which are barked rather than sung and
delivered with Teutonic rolled 'R's and exaggeratedly uttered
final syllables. Some tracks have a rather Dadaistic flavour,
featuring a single line like 'Tief im Dschungel sitzt ein Haifisch'
(deep in the jungle, a shark lurks) or numbers shouted into the
microphone, as on 'Lottozahlen' (lottery numbers). An
occasional instrumental track offers some light relief.
What a shame that VONO did not stick to their radical
concept. At least we have this gem of electronic music, one
which we can now present to a wider audience