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Neu!

Neu! 2

RS: 3of 5 Stars

2001

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Neu!
Neu! #1
Astralwerks
2001


Neu!
Neu! 75
Astralwerks
2001


Thirty years ago, after guitar bands had started to freak out but before disco had begun to suck up the Seventies, two free-thinking Germans named Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger broke out of an embryonic version of Kraftwerk and formed a band that bridged the gap between rock and art like no one before or since. Neu! songs were sparklingly pretty but anarchically noisy, usually instrumental and unfailingly hypnotic, mostly because Dinger drummed like a robot in a trance. Their crazier joints, like the debut album's "Negativland," which begins with the sound of a jackhammer and ends with a hail of swooping, spiky feedback, sound like blueprints for every guitar schizoid from Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore to Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood. Their mellow moments, like the ethereal, loping "Isi," from Neu! 75, prefigure both ambient techno and the organ-driven lurch grooves of Stereolab. Rother and Dinger's musical experiments were part improvisation, part Ed Wood: When they ran out of money for their second album midway through recording it, they simply filled up the rest of Neu! 2 with slowed-down and speeded-up versions of old songs! Until now, Neu!'s German albums - which were never properly released in the U.S. - were hard-to-find holy grails for the daring and the arty. But the striking thing about these reissues isn't their sound so much as their spirit. Heard today, their delicate, weightless guitar interludes, recorded at a time when rock music was barely older than an adolescent, sound singularly beautiful: On the gently majestic "Fur Immer," which translates as "forever," Neu! glow like a band that believed its music, like rock itself, was endless and infinitely full of promise.

PAT BLASHILL
(RS 872 - July 5, 2001)

(Posted: Jun 11, 2001)

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