Ten years ago, in an internet galaxy far far away, stories spread of a long-forgotten nightclub named The Endless House. Buried deep in a Central European neverneverland, this nirvana elektronik had lived and died over the same three months in 1973. Only now - spun the tale - would the world finally enjoy its lost, verboten fruits.
Today, in a strange twist of already twisted fate, Jiri Kantor - its eccentric founder - has become a close friend of ours.
On Sunday I played inept chess with him in a community centre in north London. He is thirty five years old and he is from Croydon. The album, he tells me, was crafted not on an arsenal of expensive modular synthesisers, but on an early version of Fruityloops.
As he guzzles coffee after coffee, I mention my plan to reissue the reissue, to revisit the imagined halls of The Endless House.
High on cheap caffeine, Jiri agreed to my plan. The club’s ghostly stars - Rasmus Folk, Walter Schnaffs, Felix Uran et al - would dance once more. Into the bargain, ‘new old material’ - previously lost to a thousand corporate USB sticks - would be unearthed.
We now present the Endless House recordings in their entirety, complete with previously unreleased songs, and a crucial re-press of the mythical Folk / Schnaffs EP. Enjoy the pictures, the words and the music - because The Endless House lives on!
An obelisk of noise that rose rudely above the treetops of the Bialowieska Forest, the Endless House project shone for a mere six weeks in the spring of 1973. The outlandish brainchild of wealthy audiophile/maniac Jiri Kantor, its stated mission was "to become the cradle of a new European sonic community... a multimedia discotheque" that should "surprise and delight" artists and dancers alike. For all the wide-eyed optimism of its manifesto, however, the enterprise was never unknowing in its flirtation with disaster and self-destruction. The brilliant Czech may have made his millions as the midas-touched entrepreneur/taste-maker behind Paris-based magazine Otium International, but Endless House was always a vanity project as irredeemably vain as its maker.
Still, determined to enjoy this most glorious and (perhaps inevitably) most fleeting of follies, Kantor did succeed in attracting a host of weird and wonderful sound artists to The House’s utopian terraces. Indeed, when Felix Uran and Rasmus Folk performed opening night on the ‘Spaceship Earth’ stage, 500 revelers were there to enjoy the party.
Alas, with its five pneumatic dancefloors, domed ‘environment bars’ and unmanageable cyber-baroque decor, Endless House was in decay almost as soon as Dutch beat scientist Earnesto Rogers had sent his first bass drum rippling through its cavernous underbelly. With journalists berating the club’s indulgent, excessive sonics, and the dance (under)world increasingly unwilling to brave its unreasonable location, Endless House was losing $60,000 a night by the time Kantor himself played out with his melancholic proto-techno anthem ‘Warum ist alles so schnell passiert?’ (‘Why did it happen so fast?').
In a final act of indulgence, a gorgeous vinyl archive pack was pressed, which saw the project’s chief nemeses facing off with their finest works from before, during and even after their ill-fated affair with Jiri Kantor's mythical project. While Vienna’s Folk delivers 20 minutes of synthetic seduction via the unheard Sylvia Kristel (an ode to his year-long romance with the French soft-core star) and Dinner In Trieste (an irresistible invitation to a date with the man himself), Walter Schnaffs is in typically constructivist form, unloading Phillips Pavillion (Cologne Cathedral in musical form) and, tragically, Spaceship Earth (an effort by Schnaffs to sound LIKE Folk). In short, this is a synth-soap-opera played out on the crumbling set of Kantor’s ailing superclub.
"What makes the whole thing so compelling, so fresh and so exciting is the musical framework – a disco-based motoric-kosmiche-techno expanding the scope of the temporal crowbar and avoiding the pitfalls of what could become a stereotypical and somewhat elitist British whimsy" - The Quietus
"Dramatic Records' beautifully packaged Endless House CD compilation from early this year won us over us with its dapper synth-pop, wave and proto-techno sounds, not to mention a wry and winning backstory about a doomed super-club opened by Czech millionaire Jiri Kantor amid the treetops of the Bialowieska Forest. We've waited the best part of nine months for a new transmission from the label, but it was worth it, 'cos The Folk/Schnaffs EP also represents Dramatic's first vinyl outing, one which elaborates and extends the Endless House's retro-futuristic mythology while serving up new tunes of the highest calibre. 'Sylvia Kristel' is Rasmus Folk's tribute to his troubled love affair with the star of Emmanuelle, a spooky minimal wave killer shot through with new romantic pomp, while 'Coupe' is a wonderfully airy, stepping dream-pop number, like Deux meets Ford & Lopatin, and 'Dinner In Trieste' a sleazy, sleeping pill-smashed lounge-funk work-out. Brilliant. Schnaff's side is less poppier, more paranoid-sounding, but also more dancefloor-oriented - taking in the ice-cold synthesizer soul-searching of 'I Am Germany', disorienting dub-disco cut 'Spaceship Earth' and 'Phillips Pavillion', a widescreen analogue epic in the style of Tangerine Dream. All superb stuff. The Endless House lives on!" - Boomkat