They were the darlings of the young rave nation, the nightmare of investigative party journalism and, needless to say, the kings of "Scheiss-House": they were Ilsa Gold, Austria's legendary and probably most irritating contribution to the history of electronic music.
It was 1993 that artist and record dealer Christopher Just joined forces with party organizer Peter "DJ Pure" Votava the year that techno was set to become the sound of the decade. Starting with their very first record on Vienna's Mainframe label, they turned into shooting stars of the new movement: Frontpage, the official organ of the German techno world, placed Ilsa Gold I
at the top of its charts, and Up
was the track that set the pace on rave dancefloors that summer.
That same year, Ilsa Gold II
followed with the hits Silke
, which again topped Frontpage's charts and managed to get Ilsa Gold invited to Germany's rave Mecca, "Mayday" the first Austrian act to do so. But their performance was a provocation: since the event's organizer gave them only 15 minutes of playing time, Ilsa Gold put a DAT recorder onstage and spent the time playing back their hits with the aid of a yogurt machine. The rave community were distraught.
1994: the big rip-off begins. Marusha's Somewhere over the Rainbow
storms the charts, and "Bravo" posterboys like Marc 'Oh construct their hits according to the Ilsa Gold formula. Ilsa Gold respond to such cases of tastelessness with increasingly merciless (self-)parody: on Ilsa Gold 3
they help themselves to 4 Non Blondes' unavoidable hit What's Up
in order to compress 5 years of techno history into 4 minutes and 30 seconds (For Blond Nuns
) and, with the Peter Cornelius / Karel Gott medley Silke 2" Süchtig
hand the Rave Generation its "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". Anyone who believed that they alienated their audience with this introspective, quotation-mad horrorshow would have been sorely disappointed, however, since according to Christopher Just, "The ravers ate it up anyway." In comparison, Winterreise
, a mature late recording in melancholic classical artwork which was released at the same time, was ignored: not enough fun.
At their next "Mayday" performance Ilsa Gold began with the statement "Ecstasy helps tolerate Mayday better", and proceeded to entertain the audience for 10 minutes with the issue of drug consumption. By the time DJ WestBam declared the existence of the "Raving Society", Ilsa Gold had already decided to make no more live appearances and instead took up media guerilla tactics: in the tabloid paper Täglich Alles
, to an audience of millions, Peter and Christopher outed themselves as romantic homosexuals ("Das erste Mal"); under pseudonyms they founded the heavy-duty "Sons of Ilsa"; and they staged a mudslinging campaign against their supposed archrivals, which finally culminated in the legendary scandal of the La Boum deluxe
After only three excessive years, in 1996 Peter and Christopher decided to go their musical separate ways. Since then Christopher Just has ironized electronic dance music in the guise of Punk Anderson, Disco Dancer, and House Motherfucker, while DJ Pure has devoted his efforts to experimental electronica, for Mego among others.
In 2003 the influential oeuvre of Ilsa Gold is being celebrated in due and fitting extravagance. On a double CD, Regretten? Rien!
documents the history of Vienna's most successful export article to the Rave Generation as a balancing act between Actionism and foofaraw, as battlefield between pop and subversion. Besides all of their hits, the CD set includes unreleased tracks, rare remixes, and of course an excerpt of the historic La Boum deluxe
program. There is nothing to regret.