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Kleenex / Liliput iTunes Tracks

Kleenex

+ {Liliput}

Twee tomboys on a mission to put the rest of Europe on the map of post-punk and d.i.y./new wave, KLEENEX – and, indeed, LiLiPUT – were Switzerland’s answer to The SLITS and The RAINCOATS. On the other hand, maybe DELTA 5, AU PAIRS and ESSENTIAL LOGIC were England’s answer to KLEENEX!
Formed Zurich and Geneva, Switzerland, in early 1978, KLEENEX comprised vocalist Regula Sing (born Ramona Carlier), bassist Klaudia “Klau” Schiff (born Klaudia Schifferle), drummer Lislot Ha (born Lieselotte Hafner) and last, but not least, guitarist Marlene Marder (born Marlene Marti), who superseded Rudolph Dietrich, thus making them an all-girl combo. Exposure arriving from the quirky quartet’s Swiss-only debut EP (featuring `Beri-Beri’, `Ain’t You’, `Hedi’s Head’ and `Nice’), KLEENEX wiped away any misapprehensions by being one of the first batch of acts to sign for England’s Rough Trade Records.
First on the agenda to fill an opening left by the aforementioned SLITS (who still hadn’t delivered a record as yet!), the Swiss grrrls released tidier versions of `Ain’t You’ and `Hedi’s Head’ – classic post-punk angst with a disregard for conventional rules and regulations. What set them apart from Ari Up and Co was Regula’s endearing, husky English accent, while the chirpy-twee – almost oriental! – “ee-ee” harmonies of Klau and Marlene were an essential ingredient to their make up.
The loss of Regula/Ramona to rivals MO-DETTES was minimised when Chrigle Freund filled her boots on seminal sophomore 45, `You’ (b/w `U’), although further foibles were just around the corner as the threat of legal action from Kimberly-Clark, makers of the tissue giant of the same name, forced them to adopt a different moniker – LiLiPUT.
With the addition of saxophone from Angie Barrack (born Angela Schleitzer), the band’s jerky, staccato chants assumed a new depth and a vaguely X-RAY SPEX/RAINCOATS-like motif, especially on the upbeat, 2-minute screamer `Split’ and its lengthier, whistling flip-side `Die Matrosen’ (“The Sailor”). Probably too close to a vehemently Brit-punk sound, a second single, `Eisiger Wind’ (b/w the novelty `When The Cat’s Away The Mice Will Play’), stretched out beyond their limitations; Barrack had flown the nest.
After time out searching for a replacement for both the departing Chrigle and Lislot, LiLiPUT returned to the fray a more experimental trio; vocalist/violinist/bassist/percussionist Astrid Spirit (born Astrid Spirig) adding ethereal touches to the LiLiPUT (1982) {*7} debut set. Shifting between bass, drums, guitar and backing vocals, Klaudia had learned her trade without question; ditto Marlene, who played guitar, bass, percussion and other noises. Many pundits were unconvinced of this fresh, innocence-lost direction, but further inspections revealed just how tasty and tribal `Do You Mind My Dream’, `In A Mess’ and the lounge-y `Might Is Right’ were in their RIP RIG + PANIC aplomb.
The addition of drummer Beat Schlatter was in place for final Rough Trade single, `You Did It’ (b/w `The Jatz’), but by the time of their second album’s release, LiLiPUT had already ceased to exist. The aforesaid German-only set, SOME SONGS (1983) {*6}, stepped out again from the shadows of indie-punk and, in `Yours Is Mine’, `Terrified’, `Etoile’ and the jangly `On Streets Without Names’, one could hear the seeds of C-86. Without question, an inspiration on riot grrrl and Kurt Cobain, the ladies from LiLiPUT were pushed out before they jumped ship; Beat, meanwhile, opted for a career in comedy as Adolph B. Schlatter, while Astrid and Klaudia (now a well-known modern painter) augmented fellow Swiss artist Stephan Eicher (who covered `LiLi’s `Nice’); Marder later formed Dangermice, before going on to work in record retail; she died (aged 61) on 17th May 2016.
© MC Strong 1999-2003/GRD series // rev-up MCS May2016

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