Between 1983 and 1989, as the two German pop music industries continued to license one another’s properties, and Amiga continued releasing American and British records, five long-playing records were released by independent labels based in Western Europe that contained music recorded in the German Democratic Republic. They were then smuggled out of the country rather than formally licensed for release abroad. Existing outside the legal framework underlying the East German record industry, and appearing in small pressings with independent labels in West Germany and England, these five tamizdat lps represent intriguing reports from the margins on the mutual entanglement of the two Germanies’ pop music industries. Closely examining these lps’ genesis and formal aspects, this article explores how independent East German musicians framed their own artistic itineraries with respect to (or in opposition to) the commercial pop circuit, as they worked across borders to self-release their music.
Seth Howes is assistant professor of German at the University of Missouri, and co-editor of Beyond No Future: Cultures of German Punk (New York, 2016).