Neu!


Neu!

Neu! - Neu! ©1971 EMI/Groenland
1. Hallogallo
2. Sonderangerbot
3. Weissensee
4. Im Glück
5. Negativland
6. Lieber Honig

Officially unavailable for years, the Neu! trilogy was finally reissued on compact disc thirty years after the release of their debut album. One of the more recognized of the so-called kraut bands, Neu! developed an eerily slick sound, an entrancing minimalist music that infused elements of German experimentalism, tape editing trickery, soundscapes, and driving percussive rock. They were only a two-piece on their debut, but created a vast canopy of sound out of simple drifting chords, sustained notes and nearly mechanical drumming, stripped down but with a sound of seemingly vast spaciousness. Interspersed throughout the album are natural and urban soundscapes, altered by way of production into experiences of beauty and estrangement. Influenced by the pop art movement, Neu! construct pieces (vocals are used rarely so the word "song" isn't exactly accurate) of simple clean precision, modulated and easy on the ears. There are sounds here that would find their way into the emerging fields of ambient music, industrial and glam, with waves of sound, robotic loops and that drifting loose groove that would come to characterize David Bowie at his most slick and polished. At the time of the debut's release, all of this was fairly fucking amazing, and quite frankly still strikes the listener as timeless and (to borrow their own word) new. I have to admit that their debut is my least favorite of their albums; it frequently lulls me into apathy with its hypnotic dreaminess. But as a kind of manifesto for the minimalist end of krautrock, it's indispensable.

Review by James Slone

Review date: 03/2003

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Neu! '75

Neu! - Neu! '75 ©1975 EMI/Groenland
1. Isi
2. See Land
3. Leb Wohl
4. Hero
5. E-Musik
6. After Eight

The last album of the seventies Neu! trilogy, Neu! '75 continues with the sound the band had already developed and mastered with their first two works, but contains two additional members and a couple of stripped down noisy guitar rock songs with a sneering punk sensibility. That punk had yet to emerge is a testament to the inventiveness of Neu! and the formidable forces of kraut. The first half of the album rummages through the driving percussion and organic sound construction that had always characterized the band, but also floats around in Popol Vu territory, with an immaculate electric guitar sound that makes the listener feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Then things get nasty with obnoxious yells, clanging NY glam guitar tones and hard driving beats, which serve to make the album fairly fantastic. It is as though the album wants to be nice and well trained but ends up going feral anyway. Neu! '75 is wildly schizophrenic, but that's all part of the fun. The listener can contemplate relationships of the past and then fitfully smash their furniture in a wild orgy of movement and destruction. It's a moody affair, but I'm certainly not complaining. It ranks high in my German rock moments.

Review by James Slone

Review date: 04/2003

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