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Neu! - Neu! 2 CD (album) cover

NEU! 2

Neu!

 

Krautrock

2.96 | 89 ratings

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LinusW
Special Collaborator
Italian Prog Specialist
2 stars While many of the characteristic Neu! sounds are here on their second album, all present and correct, a fair bit of the magic seems to be missing. Many reviewers have already pointed out the lack of money that generated the "remixes" and experimental treatment of what was actually very little original material on the second side, but to me the misgivings run a bit deeper than that.

You find driving Motorik beat and shimmering, ever evolving guitars and evocative, creative soundscapes generated by relatively simple means and effects. But in comparison to the other two Neu! albums of the 70s, the familiar ingredients feel less open-ended and more stretched-out, extending ideas rather than developing them. In that sense, Neu! 2 is (paradoxically) in part a more focused, driven and tight affair than both its predecessor and successor, in part markedly more free form and challenging, but ultimately less diverse and compositionally creative than any of them. It's also rawer, more aggressive and a fair bit more unforgivingly industrial in nature, with a harder edge and more processing of the sounds. That's not a bad thing, as the Motorik idiom fares well in a tauter, grittier setting. When needed, it brings out the underlying bite and snarl of the bands proto-punk side in and admirable way. It also puts more emphasis on the hypnotic qualities of the relentless rhythm. But this way Neu! 2 loses some of the colour and dynamics I've come to expect from the other two albums. Whether this is a good thing or not is entirely up to you, but I can't help feeling something vital is missing.

As for the speed manipulations on side two, I could honestly live without them. But rather than just dismiss a lot of the second side as pointless filler I am inclined to find both value and merit in at least some of it. I am kind of fond of Cassetto, which really erupts into a heavy, stomping onslaught of commanding rhythm and tortured, distorted sounds. Warped, but successfully so. Hallo Excentrico is another fine example of when the maniacal (desperate?) experimentation actually brings something fun to the table. Its ever-shifting speeds create a wavy, nauseating effect as it flows from right to left, changing its centre of mass in an almost physical way. Couple that with vinyl scratching, glitches, strange volume modulations and unsynchronised layering and it's all rather intriguing. And sort of anarchically joyful if you're in the right mood.

Neu! 2 feels a bit like its held together by duct tape and a good luck charm, and I definitely wouldn't come here looking for their finest work or, even worse, start exploring their world with this album. But don't dismiss it as being mostly filler and pointless and self-gratifying experimentation. There's more to it than that. And for a more brazen and hardened musical explorer this might just as well be a gem.

Between 2-3 stars depending on how open-minded and receptive I am feeling any given day, but for general purposes 2 stars are enough.

//LinusW

LinusW | 2/5 |

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