‘a complete experimental playground’

ZTT records was established in 1983 by record producer Trevor Horn, businesswoman Jill Sinclair (Horn’s wife), and NME music journalist Paul Morley. In many ways the partnership between Horn and Morley was an unlikely one, with Horn’s early ’80s projects with Buggles and Dollar not the sort of acts that Morley would have lauded in the music press. There was no doubting Horn’s prowess in the studio, however, with ABC’s 1982 smash-hit The Lexicon of Love testifying as much.

The first signings for the new label would be crucial in establishing its ethos. Legend has it that Propaganda only had three songs to their name when Morley was introduced to their music by NME colleague Chris Bohn (aka Biba Kopf) and became intrigued as to what they might offer the new imprint. One of the said tracks was a German-language interpretation of Throbbing Gristle’s ‘Discipline’, which could hardly be considered material destined to take the charts by storm. The band was a trio at this point comprising Ralf Dörper, Andreas Thein and Susanne Freytag – incanting vocalist in this initial line-up – who reflects: ‘Paul liked the music, but it was also the combination of the name, the weird Germans and the really hard beat.’ Called to the studio in London, there was a need to recruit a singer and fast, so Susanne’s friend Claudia Brücken – then still at art school – joined the ranks.

Continue reading “p:Machinery”