The tale behind the latest product from industrial vanguards KMFDM plays out like the plot of an Indiana Jones movie, or maybe a ghost story. Recorded and self-released in 1984, cassette copies of “Opium” were distributed among what we’re guessing were the coolest kids in Hamburg, Germany.
Throughout the next 30 years, KMFDM — which stands for the semi-nonsensical German phrase “Kein Mehrheit Fur Die Mitleid” — kept busy becoming crucially influential agents of heavy electronic music. Meanwhile, what passed for an “Opium” master tape rotted in a storage box alongside an inexplicable piece of sausage, tucked away in a World War II air-raid shelter. Legend has it that the recording wound up covered in excrement when the above building burned down sometime around 1988.
That fact that, after all the abuse and neglect, these songs have been remastered and made available to the public is fairly incredible. But not much shocks founding member Sascha “Kapt’n K” Konietzko these days.
“That’s kind of how s— goes sometimes,” he observes from a tour stop in Chicago. That tour rolls into town, appropriately, the day before Halloween. Konietzko says he’s not much of a Halloween guy, and finds the Tea Party scarier than any supernatural creature, but the timing of Wednesday's show should suit Boston’s goths just fine.
Something else that might seem incredible is how well “Opium” stands on its own. While the quintet is best recognized for apocalyptic industrial rock, their roots in performance art and a debt to experimental trailblazers like Throbbing Gristle feel more conspicuous on “Opium” than more recently-penned KMFDM records, like this year’s “Kunst.” That album’s eruptive, politically-charged title track is packed with enough winking self-references to make it an unofficial KMFDM theme song. Konietzko has developed a sharp sense of humor about his music, evident as he shouts “Kill Mother F—ing Depeche Mode,” a popular but incorrect interpretation of the band name, in the song’s triumphant chorus.
After spending the ‘90s owning the American goth/industrial scene alongside labelmates on the mythic Wax Trax! Records, inner-band drama brought about a temporary swan song for KMFDM in 1999. But the dismantling didn’t stick, and Konietzko rebooted KMFDM a few years later.
But as one of electronic music’s pioneers, could Kapt’n K feel any connection to the current wave of popular EDM?
“I don’t care about any trends,” he writes, after a faulty cell phone connection forces this interview over to email. “Maybe that’s the reason for KMFDM’s longevity?”
That, and the fact that goths love to dance.
If you go
KMFDM with Chant Wednesday, 9 p.m. Paradise Rock Club 967 Comm. Ave., Boston $23, 617-562-8800 ticketmaster.com