Germany’s self-crowned “Psycho Beat” combo, 39 Clocks were a low-lit shadow unit operating in a sparsely inhabited contrarian counter-culture all their own. Evolving from a confrontational art-punk experiment, known for playing vacuum cleaners and saws and terrifying audiences with brute volume, Christian Henjes (C.H. 39) and Jurgen Gleue (J.G. 39) put 11 tracks to tape in 1981 for what would become their debut album. Oozing out shock waves of bad acid trips, decayed guitar, and the dull stomp of a tiny beatbox, Pain It Dark is American garage and proto-punk filtered through some shadow-filled masterpiece of German expressionism.
The pair’s most obvious touchstones are Suicide’s crusted synths and the ragged stumble of Loaded-era Velvets – if fed through a particularly British lens of Swell Maps/basement-DIY whack-job-ism. Amongst the outsourcing, one can nevertheless detect a native Kraut heritage peeking through in the robotic beats and icy demeanor of “Twisted & Shouts” – as Dada and nihilistic an oldies cover as can be imagined. Following De Stijl’s Zoned retrospective and a Bureau B issue of Pain It Dark on CD, this reissue marks the first availability of 39 Clocks’ music on vinyl in over 25 years!