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Neu ! - Neu! CD (album) cover

NEU!

Neu !

 

Krautrock

4.05 | 375 ratings

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Kempokid
3 stars Of the various krautrock bands all trying for the minimalistic approach to their music, none quite stand out to me as much as Neu! in this regard, with simple instrumentation with very little variation, along with large, ambient passages. To me, they signify a very pure example of techniques utilised by so many other bands in the genre, especially the motorik beat, simple 4/4 times signatures with an almost metronomic quality to it, providing a near hypnotic effect. The album itself is split quite clearly into those songs which have a strong rhythmic element to them, and the more psychedelic songs, each having at least some songs which sound great, but often having the listener find themselves gravitating towards the rhythmic side of things more.

The album starts of with what is fairly clearly one of its highlights, as Hallogallo not only stands out as one of my favourite songs by the band, but also is definitely one of the better songs in the genre as a whole. The song is incredibly repetitive, usinng the motorik beat and having very little variation in the instrumentation in general, having multiple melodic motifs running throughout, giving the song distinct characteristics, but ultimately basing everything around the wonderful, groovy nature of it. The following three songs all have extremely similar feels to them, although they do all work to different extents. Sonderangebot is an extremely minimalistic track that more or less can be summed up as 5 minutes of ambience, there's little to like about this song, but there's also not much that I can really say is bad about it, it just exists. It's not like I even dislike ambient, as Aphex Twin's SAWII is an album that I do think quite highly of, this to me just doesn't feel like very good ambient overall, especially after the previous track. Weissenee continues the trend of more minimalistic tracks, but the inclusion of some light drumming and guitar work provides it with a far more psychedelic feel. Listening to this, I can also see some hints of post rock in it, the way an image or emotion is captured so well with fairly minimalistic instrumentation, each element not contributing to any particular melody or hook, focusing instead on sonic imagery and tone. I personally find it to carry on for a bit too long, but it's not bad, despite the fact that I think it would have worked better at 4 minutes. Im Gluck is the third of these more ambient tracks, and while it once again is nothing that I find particularly special, I do find that the water sound effects have an incredibly soothing effect, with the sparse guitar notes having similar effect. A bit boring on the whole, but nothing offensively bad for sure.

Negativland kicks things up once again with another rhythm driven song, this one with some more variation in it, although I don't think it quite captures the same spirit as Hallogallo. This song has a much more prominent bassline to it, rather than the driving power and pace of the drumbeat, although that still does significantly contribute to this song. I love the way it changes tempo throughout, progressively getting faster and adding more and more noisy elements to it, making it become more intense with every passing minute until it essentially becoes noise with a hint of bass underneath. The album ends with another fairly pleasant track, Lieber Honig, and is the only one to include vocals, no matter how unnatural they sound. There's not much to say about this song honestly, the vocals are its defining feature, and they're interesting, but not very good at all, and sounding like the vocalist is far too close to the microphone, with the rest of the instrumentation not really doing too much for me either.

Despite the significance of this album in the scope of krautrock along with its influence on later aspects of indie and post rock, the album itself is honestly a fairly mixed bag. On one hand, you have some absolutely killer tracks that exemplify the genre, but on the other hand, you also have a collection of mundane ambient experiments, which ends up balancing the album out to end up being quite average. I definitely enjoy this album, but it's not one I'll listen to in its entirety very often, choosing a variety of other albums over this one if I'm ever in the mood for krautrock.

Best tracks: Hallogallo, Negativland

Weakest tracks: Sonderangebot, Lieber Honig

Verdict: While being definitive in its genre in certain ways, along with feeling like a clear influence to later artists, this album is all in all quite patchy, with the ambient experiments being far weaker than the more traditional sounding tracks. Definitely would recommend listening to this album once if you have interest in the genre, but I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to cherry pick songs after that initial listen.

Kempokid | 3/5 |

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