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Neu ! - Neu! 2 CD (album) cover

NEU! 2

Neu !

 

Krautrock

2.95 | 132 ratings

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ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer
2 stars "The sound of a vinyl on a vinyl."

Despite the initial lack of success with their eponymous debut album, Neu! made a name for themselves in the German underground as a highly original band with fresh and unconventional ideas. In January 1973, they reentered the door of Windrose-Dumont-Time Studios in Hamburg to record their sophomore effort, they named simply Neu! 2. Similarly to the previous release, the cover art portrayed a simple "Neu!" caption, which according to the band's members was one of the most common marketing slogans at the time, with a pink graffiti-style number "2" painted over it. The album was released in the same year, under the Hamburg-based Brain Records.

On their second LP, Neu! build on the achievements and concepts from their first album, introducing relatively few new elements to their music. If any, the experimentation and pre-recorded tape manipulation are the most notable ones. The bold attempts and unconventional practices might appear as interesting and provocative, but I'm afraid are not a worthy continuation of the band's debut's legacy. I would not like to come across as conservative, closed-minded or orthodox, but it seems to me as if the experiments of Neu! 2 required minimal compositional or instrumental skill and were done in a rather sloppy and awkward manner. The uncompromising approach, Neu! picked for their second release, does not seem fructify in anything seemingly worthwhile or opening new doors. However, before making any statements that might later turn out to be damaging or simply untrue, let's analyze this album track-by-track.

The release opens with "Für Immer", which in German means "forever." This track is based on a so-called "motorik beat" and is in result quite similar to "Hallogallo", which opened Neu!'s debut album. The rhythm base for the piece is nearly identical, however, harmonically, "Für Immer" appears to have much more of a major character, compared to the harmonically-neutral "Hallogallo." Compared to its predecessor, this track seems to be a lot richer in sonic layers and has much more variety. Passing striking soundscapes, which Michael Rother, the guitarist of the group, has compared to a flowing river or playing a speed demon on one of Germany's newly-built autobahn, give "Für Immer" the feeling of constant movement. The sound of waves closing the piece dissolves into "Spitzenqualität", based on a similar rhythm, with electronic wind-like effects on top. The rhythm gradually slows down, opening "Gedenkminute", which also features the ambient whistle of the wind, once again suggesting the influence of water through the sound of a ship horn. Next track, "Lila Engel" begins with a familiar motorik beat with dissonant guitar and odd mumblings on top of it. Gradually, the track grows heavier and louder until drums disappear completely leaving just the voice and guitar alone. As we flip the record to side two, we are welcomed by a sped up version of a piece "Neuschnee" from the "Super/Neuschnee" single Neu! released in 1972, named simply "Neuschnee 78". Futhermore, the original recording was sped up on a turntable, so, even if one's LP is pristine, one might be tricked into thinking it is not, due to numerous pops. "The sound of a vinyl on a vinyl." On the contrary, "Super 16" is a slowed down version of the piece "Super", which again is full of imperfections. Next, we finally get to hear what the original "Neuschnee" sounded like - a tune quite typical of Neu! with its motorik beat and overdubbed parts of Michael Rother's jangly guitars. "Cassetto" is quite an ear-soring track played backwards, full of recording flaws and hissing. "Super 78" is based on the same concept as "Neuschee 78", this time with "Super", which results in the piece gaining a break-neck pace. "Hallo Excentrico" is by far the most experimental piece on side two, sounding a bit like "Hallogallo" played backwards slowly. Klaus Dinger's tight drumming plays a crucial role in "Hallo Excentrio's" sound, providing a kind of a waypoint to the music's rhythmic direction, even when it's played backwards. The album closes with the original "mother" recording of "Super", an up-beat tempo proto-punk song with all of the traditional Neu! characteristics - twangy guitar ambiances, a motorik rhythm, and manipulation of musical equipment.

Neu! 2 is very much a "mixed bag", as they often say. The creative, innovative "Für Immer", "Super", and "Neuschnee" are overshadowed by dull, difficult, and rather boring "Neuschee 78"," Super 16" or "Casetto." These tracks definitely have the magic of their own and are higher likely to be comprehended and even appreciated when the album is listened to on a vinyl format, but are more of fun, "A-ha!"-type of experiments than deep, calming, ambient, multi-dimensional soundscapes of "Für Immer", "Spitzenqualität" or "Gedenkminute." All in all, Neu! 2 occupies a significant and important place in the history of krautrock, being a one-of-a-kind listening experience, but is generally not recommended, unless you are a true explorer of the genre. That being said, do not be tricked by a relatively low rating of 2½ stars!

ALotOfBottle | 2/5 |

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