With a mixture of irony and awe, Austrian musician Xao Seffcheque referred to Ata Tak as the new lords (die neuen Herrn) in his 1981 piece Fortschrittsträume. Equally at home in the art world and the artists’ pub, the label’s operators developed new directions for music; they were cosmopolitan and shared a special sense of humor.

detail cover art Lost Gringos – Endstation Eldorado (1983, Ata Tak)

Having known each other from Wuppertal’s experimental punk gallery Art Attack, Kurt Dahlke, Frank Fenstermacher, and Moritz Reichelt moved to neighbouring Düsseldorf in 1980. They managed the label (that was first called Warning Records) from a nice office and pursued the idea of a world rebellion with sound in the adjoining music studio as Der Plan.

When 16-year old Andreas Dorau and his backing band of nine teenage girls Die Marinas had a huge hit with Fred vom Jupiter in 1981, lots of cash flushed into Ata Tak’s coffers. Unimpressed, the label continued to sign artists they cherished. 32 minutes with Holger Hiller, Minus Delta T, Picky Picnic, Wirtschaftswunder and others.

Featured cover art: Fix Planet! – An International Record

Sekt oder Karies – West Germany in the 80s

Owing to a straightness rooted in punk, new things and personalities got invented everywhere and all the time in West-Germany’s music scene of the Eighties. 53 minutes with Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle, Ingrid Wiener & Chor, Martin Kippenberger, Santrra and others.

Minus Delta T – China

Active on the intersection between music and art, the performance group around Mike Hentz and Karel Dudesek transports a six-ton block of granite by truck from Stonehenge to Asia, having events in cities en route and meticulously documenting the trip on tape. (1982-84, Ata Tak)

Holger Hiller – Das Feuer

In order to leave common pop clichés behind, Holger Hiller experiments with a rented sampler capable of recording six seconds of sound; buying the instrument would have cost 25,000 Deutsche Mark. (1983, Ata Tak)

Wirtschaftswunder – Metall

Ballad that’s inspired by Italian singer Angelo Galiza’s memories of working in a West German metal plant as a so called Gastarbeiter, a migrant worker expected to disappear once the jobs are done. (1980, Warning Records)

Der Plan – Geri Reig

With a four-track recorder, an MS-20 synthesizer, and some rhythm boxes, the Ata Tak founders record their debut album in their own studio. (1980, Warning Records)

Die Doraus und Die Marinas – Einkauf

Inventing an artful form of German Schlager music, 16-year old Andreas Dorau and his girl group Die Marinas are kicking off the Neue Deutsche Welle with their smasher Fred vom Jupiter; Einkauf, however, is an observation of families’ shopping habits on Saturdays. (1981, Ata Tak)

Picky Picnic – Was ich haben will

When Der Plan got successful in Japan, they introduced their brothers in spirit from there to the German audience; this track is about modern people’s endless addictions, which cannot be fulfilled by anything. (1984, Marz / Ata Tak)

Pyrolator – Ein Weihnachtsmann kommt in die Disco

Christmas song from Kurt Dahlke aka Pyrolator, recorded and mixed at Ata Tak Studio, and initially released on the compilation-LP Denk Daran! (1980, Überblick / RE: Ata Tak)

Lost Gringos – Unter dem Vulkan

According to their manifesto, Lost Gringos aimed at merging conception and emotion into jewels that are valid internationally. (1983, Ata Tak)

Monitor – Mokele-Mbembe

As a statement against Western consumerism, Los Angeles based art collective Monitor examines the Mokele-Mbembe, a water-dwelling entity of the Congo River Basin that stops the flow of rivers. (1981, World Imitation Records / Ata Tak)

Raha – Marebebus

Asking the question ‘What’s Next, Humans?’, Der Plan invite musicians from around the world to send tapes for Fix Planet! – An International Record. Banned under both the Shah and Khomeini regimes, this Iranian song is about a young man who has to leave his daughter to join the army, knowing that he will die. (1981, Ata Tak)

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