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NEU! 2

Neu !


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3 stars After recording a number of excellent early albums under the guise of KRAFTWERK, Klaus Dinger and Michel Rother formed a groundbreaking offshoot art/prog/electronic band respectfully named NEU!. Together they took the sparse electronic sounds of KRAFTWERK and magnified them against some pretty heavy groove rhythms and minimalist melodies... not unlike some of today's top electronica. NEU's music is basic at its core yet manages to create the most vivid and evocative soundscapes. The final result is something that will stimulate your senses vs tranquilize them. Instrumentation is also quite creatively varied here with some pretty trippy moments. Klaus Dinger plays bandoneon, banjo,dDrums, electronics, Farfisa organ, guitar, keyboards, percussion, piano, Plattenspieler, Stimme, vocals while co-collaborator Michael Rother contributes bass, electronics, Geige, guitar, keyboards, percussion, Synclavier and Zither. It appears that the early work of NEU! has retained it memory with today's music scene and is still sited as an influential album on other recording artists. In many ways I guess this album really serves as an introduction (however basic and naïve) to the ambient electronica genre. Killer stuff...!
Report this review (#23687)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album show us the most experimental side of NEU! music. A few tracks can remind the repetitive and dynamic rock compositions from their first release...however the album is dominated by sound manipulations, weird & noisy guitar parts...this one is more industrial in sound...not the first you need to purchase but it's defenitely an original work.
Report this review (#23688)
Posted Friday, March 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars NEU! = NOISE

Imagine: you record a basic dull & marginal song with minimal guitars and drums, and then you record it at 78 RPM, then 16 RPM, and make an album with that!! Why the hype for that? I can't believe I am the only one to give it the lowest possible rating! Take a dull rhythmic LP of your collection, place it on your turntable, play it without the electrical motor traction: spin fast the vinyl with your finger while listening it! Repeat the same procedure with a VERY slow finger motion! This describes the best how this record sounds!

Report this review (#23689)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Don't be misled by what looks like a stingy rating: those two little stars are simply my acknowledgement that this particular album, perhaps more than any other here at Prog Archives, is an acquired taste, and guaranteed to polarize even the most open-minded audience. It might be a masterpiece of creative ingenuity, or it might be nothing more than a desperate hoax - you can honestly argue both opinions with equal merit.

The rating also reflects how the album needs to be heard in its original long-playing vinyl format; otherwise it won't make any sense. But I'll address that curious fact in a moment.

To this day, the sophomore effort by the pioneering duo of Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger still confounds all but the more stalwart champions of Krautrock, and with good reason. It's even more uncompromising than the first NEU! album, and brilliantly so, in a nose-thumbing sort of way: a gauntlet thrown in the face of musical conformity. Like its predecessor it was recorded in a mere four days, with the team picking up right where they left off the previous year.

The opening track "Für Immer" distills the patented motorik blueprint of "Hallogallo" (the NEU! trademark cut off the earlier album) to its purest essence: a relentless 4/4 rhythm with lots of dreamy guitar overdubs, maintained here over eleven exhilarating and/or interminable minutes. Eventually it fades out on a lot of funny noises (as if someone stuck a finger into the tape machine while it was recording), and what sounds like an amplifier being pushed around: an ominous foreshadow of things to come.

This might be the best, most representative track Rother and Dinger ever recorded together, and they must have blown their entire production budget on it. What follows is (to say the least) certainly Spartan by comparison, even for a group not unacquainted with primitive electronic minimalism.

"Spitzenqualität" is a five minute motorik drum beat over a droning guitar buzz, with the percussion gradually slowing down until it disappears completely into an echoing void. "Gedenminute" is sixty seconds of wind effects and tolling bells. And "Lila Engel" is a simple one-chord (one-note?) pre-punk thrash, likely caught on the first take, and sounding like an outtake of "Super", the B-side of the "Neuschnee/Super" single featured on the flipside of the album.

This is where the weirdness begins. Faced with a punitive deadline and a shortage of cash, and with only half an LP in the can, Rother and Dinger simply filled the entire Side Two with variations of their single: sped up to a pixilated 78 rpm, slowed down to a plodding 16 rpm, mangled in the tape machine, and so forth. Even more perversely, they did all this right off the turntable, so the first sound you hear when you drop the needle is...the sound of a needle dropping. And not gently, I might add.

Now you understand why it needs the original vinyl to really work. This is genuine Twilight Zone stuff, but the irony would be completely lost in a digital format. All the snaps, crackles, and pops on the original 45 are reproduced verbatim, and listening to the record you can't separate the real scratches from the reel scratches, so to speak. At one point the stylus is even sent skittering across the grooves, sounding to any dedicated audiophile like fingernails being dragged down a blackboard.

The same what-the-hell impulse also led to that peculiar warped vinyl fade-in to "Für Immer". Every time I hear it I swear my aging turntable has finally spun its last LP, but no: it's actually a part of the recorded song.

The stress of the session broke up the band, but the two sides of the "Neuschnee/Super" single, played at regular speed, at least offered a stylistic preview of their more rational 1975 reunion album. The A-side showcases Rother's evanescent guitar and his ear for catchy melodies, and the B-side is quintessential Klaus Dinger at his confrontational best: an early punk prototype of ballistic drumming and snarling guitars, with Dinger's distorted grunts and howls passing for a vocal performance.

You might say necessity has always been a mother to invention. But it would take a forgiving listener to insist the total here adds up to something more than the sum of its crazy-quilt parts. Go ahead and debate the album all you want; if nothing else it certainly has novelty value. And there are those of us who would insist that something so willfully weird should hold a place of honor in any well-rounded record collection.

Report this review (#23692)
Posted Sunday, February 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars 2,5 stars really!!!

Actually this albums relies heavily on being a sort of carbon copy of the excellent debut , but the track on side one Fúr Immer is just a repeat of a track of their previous effort HalloGallo. And one side two , they have managed to extend one short single track to an entire album sides but fiddling with the tapes of Neuscnee and Super single tracks. Not that this is not worth a listen , but compared to their debut , this album is rather redundant.

Report this review (#35370)
Posted Monday, June 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 'Neu 2' was recorded in January & February of 1973. The record is in a certain way more experimtal and less 'Neu-ish' compared to 'Neu1' and 'Neu 75'.

The first Neu record was a reasonable success with 30.000 records sold, but halfway though the recording of 'Neu2' the band run out of money to finish the record.The band had recorded a single "Neuschnee/Super", that their label 'Brain' didn't liked and Klaus Dinger had the idea to take the single, "play around with it" and use it to fill up the record.

So all tracks on side 2 are different versions of the two single tracks "Neuschnee/Super". They were recorded at normal speed (45) and also at 16 and 78 rpm, with the strange sound that you may expect of this procedure. 'Hallo Excentrico' was created by Dinger playing 'Super 'by hand, out of center on the turntable. All this 'playing around' is the explanation, why this record sounds a little 'odd' compared to the other 'Neu' records, but Neccessity is the mother of Invention as Zappa would have said.

Side one is more 'traditional' : 'Spitzenqulaität' sounds like Proto Punk and 'Lila Engel' is an uptempo rocker dedicated to the Düsseldorf group 'Lilac Engels', that Dinger produced. 'Gedenkminute' (a minute of silence) just church bells and the only 'typical' Neu-track is the opener 'Für immer', with the trademark Dinger drumming.

'Neu 2' is an interesting-experimental record.

Report this review (#68956)
Posted Friday, February 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars A three star album not because of lack of talent or creativity but because of lack of money.As someone else said in another review Rother and Dinger ran out of cash and so could not finish recording this album and so most of side two are just the same tracks sped up and slown down, to fill up the album I don't blame them for this what else could they do?If you ignore those tracks you still get a solid effort from this duo a telented krautrockers. Fur Immer, has some great rocking drums with some fine layered guitar some are backtracked to add a pleasing ambience, with some interesting sound effects, again as I have mentioned on my previous Neu! review, this is krautrock not symphonic so it does sound a bit dull if you are unfamiliar , and so you must treat it and rate it according to krautrock expectations not symphonic, for there are some truly fantastic textures on these tracks. The guitar is the highlight for me on Fur Immer, its at times very interesting,at time s itmakes you feel as is your thoughts and feelings are floating away, it has those great trancelike qualities that is in most Krautrock.

Spitzenqualitat, starts off with promise with some interesting guitar noises and echoeing drums, the drums sound very fresh and raw sounding the same feeling that happen with the advent with punk, but the strange guitar textures and noises make the unmistakibly a prog track, (you may think yo're suffering from tenitis). The drum and the guitar then slows down, and the song kind of fades into windy sounds which start track three; Gedenkminute, isn't really anything spectatuclar, just some church bells and a brief statement in german. These two tracks don't hold much on their own and can be considered fillers, they do make side one a little less interesting.

Lila Engel is a fantastic track and my personal favourite, the singing ir groaning/humming is very different and interesting wit ha great rocking feel, I like this track because it is very unique, great sort of warped feeling with those rocking guitars, it is the most memorable track on the album, it gets even heavier and louder it kind of reminds me of the ending partWaiting Room on The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis. A great building up piece. I don't need to get into much detail with much of side two since it largely constitues sped up,slown down and backward tracks, which lets the whole album down, and makes it a three stars, you may be amused slightly, but nothing more than a passing novelty at most that gets old quickly. Neuschnee is a nice ambient pice again great guitar that adds a nice feel to it a typical Neu! affair, pleasant ambience atmospheric stuff, with what sounds like trumpet at the end.

Super is another winner a great rocking track like Lila Engel, as always Dinger and Rother are an interesting collaboration, with this ambient proto punk thing they have going. Super is interesting has unusual vocals and like Lila Engel ahead of its time. Its hard to judge how this album would have sounded if Rother and Dinger could complete it, nevertheless the stronger tracks are very avantgarde, but I cannot recommend this to everyone, I suggest getting either Neu! or Neu75 and then getting this album, it does have moments of excellence but largely let down by side 2, so for me its non essential and therefore gets a three, because the remaining tracks do show the potential of Neu! and about 50% of this album is quite enjoyable.

Report this review (#83099)
Posted Saturday, July 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Neu! 2 is an album that is often dismissed, mostly because of what was on side 2 of the original vinyl release. It's pretty much mandatory to parrot the story that Neu! ran out of money before finishing the album, so they decided to record their single at different speeds to fill the second half. While this is true up to a point - they really did blow most of their recording budget on the first half of the album - it's a mistake to dismiss the second half of the album entirely.

But first, side 1. The album opens with the brilliant Fur Immer, which starts at the wrong speed (a foretaste of what was to come later on) before settling down into the best and most hypnotic of Neu!'s motorik grooves. There's a definite resemblance to Hallogallo from their previous outing, but here the sound has been processed and refined to perfection; repetitive and ever changing, minimal yet full of detail, it's often referred to as their finest moment and with good reason. For 11 minutes achingly minimal guitar lines intertwine over washes of keyboards and the pulse of Klaus Dinger's perfectly judged drumming. This fades into the drums-and-reverb experiment of Spitzenqualitat, which somehow maintains interest for almost 5 minutes, before a brief soundscaping interlude leads into Lila Engel. This is a slice of motorik proto punk, which was the first example of the sound that Klaus Dinger would explore further on side 2 of Neu! 75 and then with La Dusseldorf, and an insanely catchy piece it is too.

And so we come to the second half of the album. The first thing to point out is that both sides of their one and only single are included here, accounting for about a third of the side's playing time, and both Super and Neuschnee are well up to Neu!'s usual standards. Neuschnee compresses the glacial beauty of their longer pieces into just under 4 minutes and does so highly effectively. Super is a more raw piece, showcasing Klaus Dinger's proto punk sensibilities the way that Neuschnee sets the tone for Michael Rother's side of Neu! 75. These 2 tracks are essential pieces of Neu!'s output, and justify the second half of the album on their own.

The two sides are also played at different speeds, from the sound of it on a cheap and nasty mono turntable, and it is these experiments which cause all the controversy. Back in 1973 this was by no means an obvious ploy; scratching, turntablism and plunderphonics all lay several years in the future, although Kraftwerk had used tapes played back at half or double speed on their second album, so there was some precedent for what they were doing. The obvious solution to filling the album would have been either a 15 minute jam, possibly with a guest musician or two, or a long drum solo from Klaus and a lengthy axe workout from Michael. In an interview with Mojo at the time that these albums were reissued, Klaus Dinger said that they had always planned to 'beat up the record player', and careful listening reveals that there was more going on than just random filler. When the two sides are played at 78 rpm, in addition to the usual distortion we also hear the needle skipping and what sounds like the record player being shaken. In both cases the whole track is played at the wrong speed. This is not the case with Neuschnee 16, which could have filled the missing space on its own - instead the experiment is cut short after three and a half minutes. Two other tracks are included; Cassetto sounds like a Neu! track being played back on a cheap cassette player whose batteries are almost flat, while Hallo Excentrico sounds like the master tape is being wound manually across the heads while some studio chat goes on in the background. On these two tape experiments it's not entirely clear what the source material is, although the title of Hallo Excentrico indicates that it may be Hallogallo.

And are the experiments any good? The 78 rpm tracks are short and to the point, while the 16 rpm track has a fascination of its own - hearing Dinger's drumming in slow motion is remarkably effective. The tape experiments are more of a trial, although they're not wholly without value. Neu! always had an experimental side, and too much thought went into the second half of the album for it to be dismissed as mere filler. The problem is that there's just too much of it, and some of the tracks drag on for too long. Had one or two other fully realised pieces been included, snippets of the tape and turntable experiments could have been interspersed to great effect. As it is, the distorted tracks take up a third of the album's playing time and are often included back to back, making for a slightly indigestible sequence.

Neu! 2 isn't quite a lost classic, but it comes close. Two thirds of the album is strong, original material that stands up well against the rest of their output, and taken on its own terms their experimentation on the second half of the album is occasionally successful and quite innovative. Cautiously recommended to lovers of the experimental side of Krautrock.

Report this review (#87829)
Posted Monday, August 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Believe it or not, I actually like this one better than their debut. I think Für Immer is a most successful representation of the Motorik style than Hallogallo, and I like the more groove oriented style all over side 1.

As for the oft maligned side 2, I find it tremendously entertaining. It's astonishing the wide variety of sound you can create using only turntable speeds and a messed up tape deck. Super 78 sounds way ahead of its time, and probably helped inspire some of that ultra-fast punk that came about a decade later. This is definitely a worthy addition to any collection of progressive music.

Report this review (#120811)
Posted Saturday, May 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Neu! 2 is the second studio album from German experimental rock act Neu! The album has a rather original story as the band ran out of money after recording the first side of the original LP and then had to fill side two of the original LP with different manipulated versions of a single called Super / Neuschnee which they released in 1972. Call the songs on side two remixes or what you want, but they are all in different playback speeds which was created on recordplayers and cassette recorders. As an experiment Neu! succeed very well with the manipulated versions on side two, but as far as enjoyable music goes ( at least for me) most of side two is a waste of time.

The music on side one is better though and the 11 minute long opener Für Immer and my favorite here Lila Engel are truly great songs. None of them reach the hights of Hallogallo from the debut though. Neu! is an exciting and groundbreaking band and proves it again on this album but they are also an aquired taste and I must admit that I would have been more happy with their music if they had cut all the strange sound experiments from their first two albums and then made one album out of their driving and relentlessly pounding krautrock tracks. See that would have made a great album IMO.

The production on Neu! 2 is as excellent as it was on the debut. Very enjoyable.

It´s hard to rate an album where you like about half the tracks and pretty much dislike the rest but somewhere between a 2 and a 3 star rating is fair. I´ll be nice and give Neu! a 3 star rating. The experiment is rather interesting even though it doesn´t always sound good.

Report this review (#194629)
Posted Monday, December 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars NEU! 2 is perhaps best approached as two halves, the first half, which consits of the first 4 tracks: Fur Immer, "Spitzenwualitat", "Gedenkminute" and Lila Engel . This is the heart of the album, with the driving Fur Immer connecting the dots between Kraftwerk's motor beats with alternative rock riffing. Lila Engel pounds agressively like there's no tomorrow, years before it became fashionable in punk music. Did I mention this music was originally released in '73? Awesome!

The second half consists of the remaining 7 tracks which, reportedly due to budget restraints, were recorded with minimal material. The band's solution was to drag or speed up pieces of their own music in various configurations using a turntable (complete with needle drops and vinyl scraping). The woozy Cassetto feeds music through a dying cassette player until its last, wretched gasp. This section of NEU! 2 is remixing in its most primitive form. Although it's an amusing idea to recycle pre-existing material in this fashion, the approach wears itself thin quite early, and hardly justifies any repeat listens.

I would say that NEU! 2 is second best behind the band's self-titled debut, and tied with their 3rd and final(?) effort Neu! 75, where the band were beginning to sound too self-conscious, IMHO. NEU!'s music has become better with age and surpasses any music out here that is being labeled "alternative" these days.

Report this review (#222057)
Posted Saturday, June 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The story behind Neu!'s second has been told plenty of times before already. The guys ran out of budget before the album was finished and they had no better idea then to fill up the blanks by repeating parts of the main groove at increased or slowed down speeds. Well, you can't blame them for lacking a sense of humour.

The impact isn't nearly as strong as the first Neu! album, but it still starts pretty much the same. Neuschnee78 is an experimental collage of sounds forced ahead by an insistent one-chord groove. Simple is effective and rhythm is everything, and if you're in the right state of mind the effect is quite entrancing.

Super16 is the first of the fillers. It's just the drumbeat of Neuschnee78 processed through an echo machine and gradually slowing down till it comes through a grinding halt. Stupid? Redundant? Maybe, but there's a primal enchantment to this beat that tends to endure these experimentations. After the ambient interlude Neuschnee, the beat goes on on Cassetto. Crazed vocal are added to the background. I really like this one. It's like an experimental version of Jesus & Mary Chain, only this one came a good 10 years earlier.

With Super78 things get rather silly, as can be expected when playing stuff at double speed. Anything played at double speed is silly. Playing at reduced speed doesn't make for a more comfortable listen but at least the slow sludge of Hallo Excentrico has the advantage of its threatening atmosphere.

Super is the Super78 at normal speed. It works better naturally but it reveals the band was not only in financial trouble but also stuck in a creative dead-end. It's a great groove again but it's virtually the same as Neuschnee78. It's followed by 3 more pointless slow-fast-slow mixes of other tracks. At the end comes Lila Engel, a great bit of proto-punk noise with a slightly different groove then Neuschnee78.

If you own the Neu! debut already, there's little need for this album. But it's not a complete failure either. I think the 23 minutes of original material still warrants 3 stars.

Report this review (#283953)
Posted Saturday, May 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars The second Neu! album has a strong first side but is let down horrendously by the album's second side. The first four tracks, and the two best songs on the second side (Super and Neuschnee) continue the rhythmic, pulsing, hypnotic experiments of the debut, with a bit more aggression and bite to them, at points taking on a proto-punk fury, prefiguring the Krautrock- punk fusion of Neu! 75.

However, the band infamously ran out of time, ideas and money in producing this album, and therefore had nowhere near enough material to fill the thing out. Thus, the second side consists of Neuschnee and Super themselves, and then five tracks which simply consist of manipulations of those two tracks. Neuschnee 78 and Super 16 and 78 are far and away the worst offenders here, since they are literally just the tracks played at differing speeds, whilst the remaining two tracks involve the tracks being played on malfunctioning tape recorders.

This, quite simply, is a scam. Attempts have been made by the artists to justify it as "experimental", but the fact is that there are some sonic experiments which are worth trying but don't actually yield results worth listening to, and these tracks are an example of precisely such an experiment. They've also suggested that the modified tracks are "remixes", an excuse which could only be believed by someone who didn't really understand what a remix is and what work goes into producing one. The fact is that neither Neuschnee nor Super are improved by this treatment, leaving the second side of the album a miserable failure. What original material the band still have is still good, so I'll give this album a second star, but buyer beware - you may be paying a full-album price for an EP's worth of material.

Report this review (#504587)
Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 7/10

"Neu! 2" is uber exciting in it's quirkiness.

Neu!'s sophomore effort is too many times underrated, as it is in my book on the same level as the acclaimed debut, and is essential for the forming od the project's following album, "Neu! 75". It's ambition and boldness might turn off some people, or make them believe it's only pretentiousness, because what we have here in a few moments is pure avant-garde.

Compared to the debut, it looks that "Neu! 2" uses the same paradigm of the self titled but adds something to it: the sophomore is far more experimental, quirky, and straight-up weird. The rhythms are even more robotic and futuristic sounding, while the guitars are using even weirder effects (especially a lot of pitch change) and are even more abrasive in the lively moments, making Neu! one of the most influential bands for Punk and especially Post-Punk. Best way to describe this music seems to be Cyberpunk, in the end. But this is also groundbreaking for electronic music in general; many of the songs here are remixes, or little experimentations which are a result of messing around with old tapes. The use of soundscapes, sound collage and what else, has sure been used before, but never in such a context.

Cool and brave at the same time, "Neu! 2" has however one flaw only: some parts are a little boring and way too toned down: the effects these few moments have aren't really exhilarating and don't really do anything to the album. These moments are just pure fillers, and fillers usually are something that don't bother me.

This album is in fact at times hated for this reason, it is basically a collection of filler songs, each one of these different from the other: Examples of such variety are songs like "Lila Engel", with it's bizarre wild vocals, the drony "Super 16", the energy sprint of "Neuschnee 78", "Super 78" and the final song "Super", this last one the most Punkish song of the band. Finally, the dragging "Hallo Excentrico", and the opening eleven minute track which possibly is the most serious one and the one that most resembles the masterpiece of the debut album "HalloGallo".

"Neu! 2" is one of the most fun Krautrock albums ever written; courageous, ultra-strange, uber exciting. It's a shame that this album is sort of underrated compared to the other albums of the project, when it really maintains the same high qualities as the rest of their discography.

Report this review (#605435)
Posted Saturday, January 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, my first review on this site and it happens to be Neu! 2. Actually, not just 'happens', as I registered specifically to review this album, as it seems to have comparably few positive reviews. I can understand why, as until today I had also accepted the whole 'band ran out of money, album full of filler' argument and never really paid attention to this album, even though I've long since fallen in love with Neu! 75, as well as Hallogallo and Negativland from the first album.

However, I just listened to this album attentively several times and was amazed, in particular by side 2 which usually seems to be regarded as the 'throwaway' one. Side 1 contains the obvious classic Fur Immer, which builds on Hallogallo, smoothing out the production and pointing the way towards Neu! 75, while also adding more powerful rhythm guitars at various points. Excellent track! The following two short atmospheric pieces are, to my ears, the weakest on the album, although Spitzenqualitat does demonstrate interesting production techniques, as would later be used by many a post-punk group, while Gedenkminute gives an ambient interlude in which to pause for thought... The final piece on the side, Lila Engel, seems to be the earliest of Neu!'s real proto-punk works, with the second half in particular layering the guitar and various effects into a real wall of sound, developing into a powerful, almost vicious piece.

But really, it's the second side I wanted to discuss. Basically, this side consists of the A and B-sides of Neu!'s Super/Neuschnee single, two 78 rpm 'remixes' of these two tracks, two tape manipulations of other Neu! tracks, and one 16 rpm 'remix' of Super. The two singles in their original form are both classic Neu!, on a par with the best tracks from Neu! and Neu! 75. I even prefer these to anything on side one, as they seem to condense all of Neu! best qualities (driving rhythms, melodic guitar improvisations and loops, strange vocals, interesting production techniques, distorted proto-punk rhythm guitars) down into 3-4 minute gems. The two 78 rpm versions seem to push this concentration even further, turning Neu!'s motorik beat into a hyperspeed electronic rhythm. While the music of these two tracks is 'the same' as the original singles (with minimal tape manipulations), these manipulated versions have a very different and original sound. While it was obviously possible to play recordings at increased speed earlier, Neu!'s music seems eminently suited to this than, given its repetitive, driving nature and lack of melodical vocals/choruses (thus avoiding the 'chipmunk effect'). While I certainly wouldn't want to replace the originals with these versions, they do add another dimension to the songs (and are only a minute or two long anyway).

As for the other tracks, Super 16 has become slightly well-known from kung fu soundtracks (including Kill Bill) and listening to it here one can see why: it definitely has an ominous dramatic feel which is totally absent in the original. This seems to be at least partly the result of tape manipulations adding sound effects on the slowed-down version. Unlike the 78 versions, this one is pretty much unrecognisable compared to the original Super, thus also making an interesting addition to the album. That just leaves the two tape manipulations. Hallo Excentrico! is the more interesting of the two, using varied tape speeds to achieve an unnerving, ghostly effect. Cassetto is only lesser for being more repetitive, and containing strange gaps of silence. The music itself could easily be the backing for a lost My Bloody Valentine single, with the tremolo achieved via tape instead of directly via guitar.

So all in all, an experimental album on which pretty much all the experiments are successful. The effects themselves were not totally original in a prog/rock context at the time, for example varying tape speed was used to great effect in Kevin Ayers' 1969 track Stop This Train (Again Doing It). Nonetheless, combining them together into a kind of experimental 'suite' on side 2 only serves to emphasise the possibilities for using tape manipulation/etc in music production, making this album an important influence on many later musicians and producers. Well worth paying more attention to!

4.5 stars from me!

Report this review (#1009304)
Posted Wednesday, July 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
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.


Report this review (#1127574)
Posted Wednesday, February 5, 2014 | Review Permalink
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!

Report this review (#1585255)
Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2016 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Neu!'s second album follows a lot of ideas from their debut album, and while that one is often regarded as the far superior one, I'd say that they're on equal footing. The issue with their debut was that while it had 2 absolutely amazing tracks, Hallogallo and Negativland, the other tracks, while clearly showing that they had some early post rock aesthetic in its minimalism, also ended up being remarkably dull. Neu! 2 is somewhat more playful, taking on slightly more of the proto punk element that was lightly touched upon.

The issue with the album that stops it from being truly great is its second half, which is equal parts amusing and obnoxious. Due to running out of time, money and ideas, Neu! ended up resorting to the bizarre tactic of simply reusing songs on varoius speeds using a turntable, playing around with the tempo and pitch. While this is indeed an interesting idea, it pretty clearly doesn't quite work, although these versions of the songs are still quite interesting, mostly the faster ones which evoke a lot of that proto punk sound, making Neuschnee 78 a fairly notable track. The slowed down songs are much less interesting, containing little energy or entertainment beyond the whole novelty of the idea. The regular versions of these are good enough however, definitely dynamic enough to remain interesting, and listening to these original ones after a couple of shifted iterations of them is definitely interesting. It's undoubtedly the first half of the album that makes this a worthwhile listen however, especially the opening track Fur Immer. This follows the same basic template as Hallogallo from their debut, except I enjoy this one slightly more. While both revolve around the motorik beat, the sound is much more full in Fur Immer, much more depth to the track overall. Despite the very repetitive nature of it, there's still a dynamic element at play, and while there are constant motifs running throughout, the song has a certain ebb and flow to it, gaining and losing intensity in a subtle enough way to maintain the incredible, hypnotic nature of the track, while also providing enough depth to be interesting to closely listen to. The next 2 tracks show an interesting direction for the band, incorporating some more energetic moments into the core, repetitive and minimalistic krautrock sound of the band, before diverting back into the surreal ambient qualities of their music. Lila Engel is undoubtedly my favourite song here outside of Fur Immer, being the one track on the album with some kind of vocal element to it, although I hesitate to call it singing. , it's more along the lines of making various noises with the mouth in a rhythmic fashion. What ends up happening is that it creates a uniquely trippy, psychedelic track that's an absolute joy to listen to, especially with the once again metronomic drumming at play.

Overall, despite there being a fairly sketchy side B to this album, the overall product is one that I enjoy far more than Neu!'s debut, as what it lacks in consistency, it makes up for it in playful experimentation and a clear sense of discipline in even the most surreal of moments. I would have loved it if the band didn't run out of more or less everything when recording this album, because I would have adored it is there was more material as downright great as the first 4 tracks and a couple of the ones on side B. A uniquely enjoyable album that I enjoy quite a bit despite its imperfections.

Best songs: Fur Immer, Lila Engel

Weakest songs: Cassetto, Super 78

Verdict: A very flawed album, but one that I've grown to enjoy quite a bit. It's a real shame that the second half drags this down so much.

Report this review (#2238411)
Posted Tuesday, July 16, 2019 | Review Permalink

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