German Army – Salary of Stagnation

12.19.19 by Ryan Masteller

I’ve written about so much German Army stuff in so many places, but I just realized that I’ve NEVER written about a straight GeAr release in the hallowed web archives of Tabs Out.* Peter Kris? Sure, plenty of times. Germ Class? Absolutely. Q///Q? Does Baked Tapes use weed instead of bubble wrap to stabilize their packages? (Actually, that’s a real question I have, but I did write about Q///Q.) 

So I figured, what better way to break in the project here than with a massive 3xCS collection? It’s as good an intro as any I guess. There are literally scores of GeAr releases at this point. Literally.

If German Army’s intention was to overwhelm you with sheer volume of content, then they have succeeded with “Salary of Stagnation,” an intensely loaded compendium consisting of 34 tracks split over six sides. Never ones to shy away from an almost constant release schedule (spread over NUMEROUS labels, rarely going back for seconds – although they did in this case), the GeAr duo has outdone themselves on this one. Have I mentioned how big it is, how full of German Army material in a discography already overflowing with riches? I have? 

Speaking of overflowing with riches, no German Army release is complete without a central conceit, and this one’s got to do with money, aka “the root of all evil,” aka probably the underlying target of every injustice GeAr’s records bring to light. When the world economy is so clearly top-heavy and unsustainable, some brave soul is going to have to call out that inequity and point to the average person’s income, which ain’t getting any bigger. And by “some brave soul,” I mean another brave soul adding to the feverish shriek that is collective anger at general disparity. God knows we can’t have enough brave souls joining that ever-strengthening chorus.

So “stagnation” doesn’t exactly engender feelings of hope or progress (in fact “stagnation” is an ANTONYM for “progress”), and neither does German Army’s dark hybrid of industrial and ambient. Once you get past the relatively light dub of “Emotional Cleansing,” there are actually quite a few passages of murky electronics, smears of grisly blue and black like if someone ran their hand across one of those thin blue line bumper stickers that was drying on the press. Sure, there are returns to more buoyant moments throughout (see especially “Falling Towards Forget”), but there are twice as many downers as there are uppers – they just all vary in pacing and timbre.

“Salary of Stagnation” is easily a milestone in the GeAr canon just because of its size and scope. Still, the utter heft of this thing serves as a potential deterrent. Take it from me, though: don’t let that stop you from digging your little paws into it and burrowing through its secrets and passages. The more you listen, the more it rewards – “stagnant” this certainly is not.

This triple cassette is limited to 60 copies from Barcelona’s Cønjuntø Vacíø.

* Actually, uh, that’s totally not true.