Sunday, 2 June 2019

Neu! - Neu! 75 (1975)



Released in 1975

After a falling out, Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother reunited and produced a most interesting, enjoyable album of so-called krautrock. Despite the apparent tension between the two during the recording, you can't tell, and it is, for me, the most enjoyable of their albums.


1. Isi
2. Seeland
3. Leb' Wohl
4. Hero
5. E-Musik
6. After Eight                                                  

Isi is one of the most catchy numbers Neu! ever did, full of infectious pounding drums that sound like a cross between glam rock and Booker T. & The MGs on Time Is Tight. It has a lively synth/keyboard rhythm that predates the new romantics by nearly seven years. Dinger was the rocker, apparently, Rother the one who preferred ambient sounds. While Isi bears the hallmarks of Dinger, the next track, the moody Seeland, is clearly Rother's work. While a bleak work, it contains some beautiful bits of guitar and keyboard interplay and one heck of an atmosphere. Yes, it may be a sonorous, sonic industrial wasteland, but it is a beautiful one. There is perfection in its stark simplicity.

Leb' Wohl features a sparse piano, small bits of percussion, sea noises. It is a cliché, now, to say that Brian Eno and David Bowie were influenced by this, but it does not make it untrue. They clearly were. There are snatches of Warszawa, from Bowie's Low in this. It drifts on effortlessly for over eight minutes but it washes over you like the waves used on its soundscape.

For the old "side two", Dinger's brother Thomas was addd on percussion and Hero bursts into life sounding incredibly punky for 1975, with definite punk riffs, post punk keyboards and Johnny Rotten-esque vocals. It sounds like Public Image Ltd. Three years early. This was very influential stuff. Never mind bands at CBGB's, punk came as much from this sort of material. E-Musik sees a return to the chugging Autobahn-style beat made famous by Kraftwerk, this time there is a Glitter Band sort of drum sound underpinning it throughout and a bit of guitar arrives after about six minutes before the track suddenly disappears into the ether of strange keyboard noises.

After Eight begins in superbly riffy style, with more punky drums and indistinct, occasional vocals. It is as if a New York Dolls track had been fed through a rudimentary computer and this is what came out.

Neu! pretty much disappeared after this album, reuniting for one more offering in the mid-eighties, but this was a high point to go out on. It has only been in later years, though, that its influence has been truly acknowledged.


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