Thursday, 13 September 2018

Neu! - Neu! (1972)




Released January 1972

Recorded in Hamburg, Germany

This was an incredibly ground-breaking album that changed the face not only of German rock, but started to influence so many other artists over so many subsequent years. The whole "Krautrock"/futuristic thing started with albums like this. David Bowie, an artist greatly influenced by this album, was still in his "glam" stage at this point. Joy Division were still at school. Brian Eno was no doubt taking notes.

Neu! were just two people - Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger. The music they made was quite remarkable.

"Hallogallo" has a totally addictive bass line that just keeps going, like a driving car, keeping a constant speed. It sounds completely delicious. Then there are those wah-wah-ish guitar interjections and the metronomic drum beat. A gentle keyboard-sounding piece of guitar comes in half way through. This is an incredibly ahead of its time piece of music, like nothing before, really. Its driving rhythms are extremely intoxicating. They just sweep you along.

"Soderangebot" is a more experimental, bleak ambient piece based around some strange noises. It doesn't have nearly as much appeal as"Hallogallo", however, its atmosphere is considerably undercooked, unfortunately, for me. "Weissensee" starts with a "Five Years"-style stately drum beat that underpins some gently wailing slide guitar. Half way through the guitar really kicks in with intent. The drum beat remains the same, keeping everything in check while the guitar runs free. I read someone say it was like "gazing out of a rain-smeared window". They are so right. In November.

"Im Gl├╝ck" sees a return to the ambient, sonorous soundscape of "Soderangebot", complete with gurgling water noises that has many hints of David Bowie/Brian Eno's work on the second half of "Low".  "Negativland" is full of industrial noises and some searing guitar over insistent, more urgent drums this time. U2 would be heavily influenced by this in the nineties period. Talking Heads on "Fear Of Music" too. It breaks out into some seriously Joy Division/Magazine-style riffage at one point too. The influences are almost too many to keep naming. "Lieber Honig" is spoilt, unfortunately by tape hiss and some positively dreadful whining, incomprehensible vocals. It is pretty much unlistenable. That water sound is back too. For me, I stop listening after the end of "Negativland", which still makes it an excellent piece of work, however.

Yes, one could argue that there is a monotony to this album, but if you let it enter your consciousness it is very enjoyable.

PS The Deezer album below contains this album from tracks 21 to 26.

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