The band was founded in 1980, and one of their first practice spaces was in an autonomously managed youth center (later cleared by the police, in 1983) at Gassergasse in the Margreten district of Vienna. There the band performed live and made the first cassette recordings of these performances (Symphisch, 1981). In 1981 Molto Brutto was included in a scene compilation Die tödliche Dosis (The Deadly Dose; on the Lustgewinn Schallplatten label), and songs like Geil (Randy), Leichen (Corpses), and Surfing (»We are lost … in the sand flats«) contained heightened pressed sounds (Grohs) and shrill organ tones (Kunzmann) that were signs of where this still developing band was going. Punky amateurism, a jazz-inspired free spirit, and texts at the boundary between a determined rhetoric of liberation and outright sexism all made Molto Brutto what it was, with an emphasis on the word brutto (ugly).
The band’s first art-scene performance took place in 1982 at the Pakesch Gallery, in conjunction with the group exhibition Dort ist ein Fels, des hohe steile Klippe furchtbar hinabschaut in die jähe Tiefe (There Is a Rock, Its High Steep Cliff Is Looking Down Fearfully into the Sudden Depths). A first LP with no title (Schallter, Ariola, 1982) soon followed. There, Grohs and Kunzmann, together with Damisch (bass), Danner (drums), and Rockenschaub (guitar), presented a veritable explosion of rough and exalted music making. Styles and moods come and go in quick succession, and the dynamics of the songs, all with a good dose of drama, range from an earthily grumbling beat to the excessively overdone. Die Fotografin Anna Blau / Ist eine wunderschöne Frau (Photographer Anne Blue / Is a Very Beautiful Lady), they sing in one of the more accessible tracks. The song So ein Schieber (Such a Racker) is the closest they get to pop. And Hotel Sahel takes us on an imaginary journey to unknown ghostly territories, full of exotic flair. The wild pictographic art brut painted signs on the cover make for a perfect illustration of the band’s unharnessed drive into all kinds of terrains.
At the time, Molto Brutto’s music was seen as a »bold expedition to a musical no-man’s land, where instruments develop new divergent sounds that blur the borders of music.« This »unpredictable endeavor« led to a second record in 1987, also untitled (Goldfish Music, Ton um Ton records, 1988), now without Rockenschaub, who had left them, but who nonetheless contributed a minimalist cover (diverging rays of black and magenta lines). On this record, which had a more compressed and multilayered sound, we again hear about »journeys to imaginary spaces and deserted regions where the heat makes the air flicker.« Its ten tracks are more accessible and closer to pop than the music on the much better known LP of 1982. Still, this second record was again not a great success. Thereafter, Grohs and Kunzmann founded the duo Ganslinger, staying together into the 1990s.
1 Werner Geier, »Avantgarde – oder was?,« in Die guten Kräfte: Neue Rockmusik in Österreich, ed. Günter Brödl (Vienna, 1982), 121.
3 Gunter Damisch, cited in Thomas Mießgang, »Trips und Träume,« in the CD booklet accompanying Ballgasse 6 – Wiener Avantgarde der 80er, Wien Museum Edition, 2015.