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Krautrock • Germany

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Neu! picture
Neu! biography
Formed in Düsseldorf, Germany in 1971 - Disbanded in 1975 - Aborted comeback in 1985-1986

NEU! is a duo of Michael ROTHER (guitars, keyboards) and Klaus DINGER (bass, drums, vocals, guitar and piano). They jumped ship from KRAFTWERK at a very early juncture. The '70s electronic band NEU! created a new kind of rhythm that bridged the gap between rock n roll's syncopation and dance music's four-to-the-floor beats. NEU's music is simple, natural, creating evocative soundscapes that are stimulating rather than tranquilizing. Their melodies are balanced upon driving almost hypnotic beats. From big fans BOWIE and ENO back in the seventies to the hundreds of postrock/electronica acts that namecheck them now, NEU! are gods.

NEU! only made three studio albums during their brief existence in the 70s (another studio album was released in 1995, called "Neu! 4"), but they were uniformly excellent. It's possible that you could discern their "style" just by listening to this one (or any one of the others), but as with CAN, FAUST and KRAFTWERK, to really get the full experience you have to hear all of them. The debut is a fascinating work of experimental Krautrock. The critical status quo qualifies "Neu! 75" as the best of three albums, simply because it is the most musically adept and holds the most studio polish. The "Hallogallo" begins the first album, and is an essential slice not only of Krautrock, but of musical history. This hypnotic album is the most like KRAFTWERK, but the emphasis is on guitars, not keyboards. "Black Forest Gateau" is a British compilation drawing entirely on the first and last LPs.

Krautrock may not be every prog fan's favorite type of music, but there are few canons that demand as much dedication from the listener, and in the end, the trance can't work its magic unless you're there for the duration. I say Krautrock is great prog, and NEU! is as definitive a specimen as any.

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Neu!: Neu! (White Vinyl) LPNeu!: Neu! (White Vinyl) LP
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Neu! '86Neu! '86
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NEU! discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

NEU! top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.07 | 338 ratings
2.94 | 124 ratings
Neu! 2
3.92 | 203 ratings
Neu! '75
3.12 | 30 ratings
Neu! 4
2.18 | 15 ratings
Neu! '86

NEU! Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.78 | 12 ratings
Neu! '72 Live! In Düsseldorf

NEU! Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

NEU! Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 2 ratings
2 Originals Of Neu!
5.00 | 1 ratings
Rock On Brain
4.67 | 3 ratings
Black Forest Gateau
5.00 | 1 ratings
Vinyl Box

NEU! Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.04 | 4 ratings
4.00 | 3 ratings
4.00 | 1 ratings
Neu! (Promo CD)
5.00 | 1 ratings

NEU! Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Super by NEU! album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1972
3.04 | 4 ratings

Neu! Krautrock

Review by ALotOfBottle
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

3 stars After relatively low sales of NEU!'s eponymous debut album, which came out in 1972, the duo of Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger set out to record a single at Conny Plank's studio in Cologne. The disc named simply Super was released by the reluctant Brain records, who foresaw the lack of success for the release. Although it had very small direct impact on music charts in Germany, the single laid foundation for the experimentation that listeners are able to hear on side two of NEU!'s sophomore effort. The first track, "Super", is dripping with elements that make the band's sound so unique - twangy, jangly guitar tones, various studio effects, and most importantly the feeling of constant movement, achieved through a motorik beat. On the flipside, we get "Neuschnee." The piece is quite similar to "Super" in its overall atmosphere and pace.

Although it might not seem like it, NEU!'s 1972 single Super is a pivotal work in the band's history. Because the band members were low on budget while recording their upcoming second LP, they decided to fill their album with pieces from this release, slowed down and sped up, instead of paying to record new material. If not for this single - what kind of music would we encounter on NEU! 2?

 Neu! 2 by NEU! album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.94 | 124 ratings

Neu! 2
Neu! Krautrock

Review by ALotOfBottle
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

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!

 Neu! by NEU! album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.07 | 338 ratings

Neu! Krautrock

Review by Deferred Defect

4 stars NEU!, the self titled debut album, was where I chose to being listening to Krautrock, just over three years ago, and I maintain that it remains one of the most accessible and interesting albums of the genre.

Compared to groups like CAN, Ash Ra Temple, and many other "jam bands", the NEU! has an extremely precise, minimalistic sound throughout that betrays the low cost and rushed production that plagued the recording processes. Nothing sounds out of place, and there's a clarity that's rare for this era. The instrumentation intertwines without sounding muddied. Songs blend into one another without any indication that they ended or started.

As far as a physical medium is concerned, this album has the most appropriate artwork and presentation of anything I've come across. My copy is the recent remastered edition on white vinyl, which suits the pop-art sleeve design perfectly: It's a matted gatefold, but inside are only a few scrawled song titles and two blurry photos of Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother. The label itself is plain white with the same haphazard, but clearly intentional font work.

Hallogallo (a spoonerism in German for a wild party) opens Side 1. It's an upbeat, drum driven track that isn't very representative of the album, but certainly gives the listener a good idea what this Krautrock genre is all about. 4/4 time, almost digital precision and a truly modern sound.

Sonderangebot contrasts Hallogallo well - the music is all but dead, and we end up in early ambient electronic territory. Those familiar with Tangerine Dream's ZEIT will feel at home.

Eventually the somewhat ominous noises subside, and we meet somewhere in the middle at Weissensee, a slower, but more melodic piece with clever pacing and a hazier atmosphere. If Hallogallo is a wild party, Weissensee is approaching 4 am, but with only your closest friends.

Side 2 beings with Im Gluck. Recordings of what sound like people on a small boat, are met with similar background drones used in Weissensee, but with less structure. It's strange, because this could have easily been the lead out to the previous song, but you need to flip the record to get to it. More relaxing ambient music, but this is one place where the MP3 or CD is superior. Because this side of the album is a suite that will eventually tie into the last track, however, I'll give it a pass.

If vinyl timing would allow it, I'd have started side 2 with the next track, Negativland, a heavier song that has elements of early industrial music, and hints of Belew era King Crimson from ten years in the future. Like the more structured tracks before it, this one is also 4/4, but NEU! have kept it interesting with enough bizarre sound effects and with several blistering tempo changes. Punk rock took a note from NEU! later on, and this is a good example of why.

Lieber Honig closes NEU!, the most Faust sounding track. It's the only one with direct (non sampled) vocals, but they are very strained and dry. This is my least favourite track as a result, even though the extreme minimalism of the music itself is intriguing, essentially a koto over drones. Side 2 ends how it began, with the sounds of a boat rocking beside a dock.

NEU!'s debut wasn't perfect, but none of their albums were. This one, I feel, is their best, and genuinely could have been something recorded in the last ten years. It is victim to zero cliches, and set trends without becoming worn out itself.

I'm giving it 4/5 on the scale below, because I feel it could have ended on a stronger track, but this is absolutely an album that must be listened to if you have any interest in getting into Krautrock, ambient, or minimalist music.

 Neu! 2 by NEU! album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.94 | 124 ratings

Neu! 2
Neu! Krautrock

Review by 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.


 Neu! '86 by NEU! album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.18 | 15 ratings

Neu! '86
Neu! Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Michael Rother's version of the "Neu! 4" album, previously assembled (without Rother's knowledge) by his erstwhile partner Klaus Dinger, is like an identical twin separated at birth, and not altogether compatible with its sibling despite the identical DNA. It's essentially the same aborted album, remixed and rearranged, with some of Dinger's tracks eliminated, others abbreviated, many re-titled, and with one new cut added. But the belated reassembly hardly justifies a separate release, and the new album is actually 14-minutes shorter than it older brother.

According to Rother, the 1995 release of "Neu! 4" was for Dinger "an act of despair". And Rother himself said it "isn't a real Neu! album." But there isn't anything in his new mix to alter that assessment, which makes it easy to defend a lower rating for the same music: it's been done before, and the second round is no more a group effort than its predecessor.

Sadly, Dinger's original model is now out of print, supplanted by the newly licensed 'official' edition. A moot point, in my opinion, as neither version fully deserves to called the fourth studio album from the long-defunct duo. The music itself still has its occasional charm and energy. But it was never more than flotsam, and even less essential as secondhand flotsam.

 Neu! 4 by NEU! album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.12 | 30 ratings

Neu! 4
Neu! Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The mid '80s Neu! reunion album wasn't really much of an album. But it wasn't much of a reunion, either. The aborted studio sessions apparently yielded only one melody, replicated by the duo in assorted variations on a theme: "Nice Wave"; "Wave Naturelle"; "Quick Wave Machinelle", and so forth. More than a decade later the ersatz 'album' was released by Klaus Dinger, heavily amended and without the participation of his partner Michael Rother, who refused to endorse it.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the music strongly resembles a long-lost LA DÜSSELDORF album. And because it was recorded in the 1980s, you can expect to hear a lot of Fairlight synthesizers and digital programs, anathema to old-school Krautrockers with a chip on their counterculture shoulders, but entirely consistent with the mechanized style of the era.

At least the band (thankfully, some would say) wasn't revisiting the desperate experimental territory of their "Neu! 2" album, where two short pieces of music were repeatedly mangled beyond recognition over an entire side of vinyl. The new song, in all its permutations, is actually quite pretty, and employed more like a recurring motif, sometimes with a calming New Age aura ('Schöne Welle"), elsewhere with aggressive New Wave energy ("Crazy"). Rother himself had already followed a similar game plan on his 1979 solo album "Katzenmusik", but the changes here were more radical, even including a goose-stepping club mix in "Dänzing" (note the clever play on the name of the old Prussian capital: a nice bit of Klaus Dinger iconoclasm).

The album's biggest liability, besides its questionable legality, might have been the Neu! trademark itself, raising expectations that could never be met. It might have worked better as a Dinger solo project, since his own handprints on the music were more prominent than Rother's, from the satiric collage of "86 Commercial Trash" to the dreamlike renditions of "Deutschland Über Alles" that bookend the album. But of course it wouldn't have had the same market value.

Michael Rother would later compile his own 'official' (if somewhat redundant) mix of the same tapes (see: "Neu! '86"), in effect suppressing Dinger's original vision, now long out of print. What survives in either example is only a skeleton of what the finished product might have been, given more time and less creative friction. It certainly doesn't belong on the same shelf as the band's earlier iconic albums. But there's a lot here to enjoy, not least the teasing suggestion of how Neu! might have evolved in years to come.

 Neu! 2 by NEU! album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.94 | 124 ratings

Neu! 2
Neu! Krautrock

Review by AenimaUK

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!

 Neu! by NEU! album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.07 | 338 ratings

Neu! Krautrock

Review by LinusW
Special Collaborator Italian Prog Specialist

5 stars Reaching more directly into the heart of things, the Motorik sound make itself known immediately in Hallogallo. A smooth transaction between disciplined beat (in an almost half-heartedly sloppy way!) and swooping, searching and sleekly self-aware and immediate melodic clarity. Neu!'s debut takes no prisoners. It's a clear and assertive form of expression. Love it or hate it. The regular and almost (sometimes definitely) backwards juggling of phrasings and relaxed melodic self-importance moves about in rising and bubbling guitar arrangements. It's in many ways relatively mundane, but the shape-shifting forms and different layers consciously bring the artistic statement into a forceful start.

Afterwards, in Sonderangebot, resonant metal gongs, slams and crashes reverberate and linger over (and around) tortured electric guitar lines. A claustrophobic darkness of equally lost-in-space, equally aggressive chilling ambience turns into a sombre, but meticulously crafted drive forwards into a meatier and warmer reality in Weissensee. The searching, clashing atmosphere settles into a beautifully rich parade of graceful and guitar-driven spacey orderliness and harmony. The contrast is just something else. The rhythms sneakily kidnap the understated but expressive guitar lines and twists them into a natural progression of smoothly and soothingly rising and falling motions. Im Glück continues down this path of uncertainty between electronic, abstract ambiance and shy, gliding melodic guitar sprinkles. Water, in most shapes or forms, is ever-present in Neu!'s output it seems. A lingering, clucking sound of a slightly underwater shoreline that morphs into instrumental minimalism. An ever so slowly oscillating drone that breaks up into peacefully evolving, wah-wah-ing melodies of poignant, but understated electric warmth and elegance. All of this give rise to a subtle infusion of clear, sapphire-blue and talkative guitars for a while. Ringing tones stroke the sampled watery sounds and sleekly and elegantly bring the sounds into an organic finish.

The twist towards edgier, more drilling sounds that follows is almost unwelcome. Sharp, wailing guitars accentuate a metal symphony of boundless, productive and shearing aggression. Aimlessly soaring screeches and wailing guitar misanthropy scratches and beckons on top of the underlying orderliness. Rhythmic, groovy bass propulsion slithers underneath a busy, flickering soundscape of sharply wheezing undulations of relentless guitars. The propulsive bass and drums accentuate and stress the pre-shoegaze wall of sound into a busy, unwelcoming world of stress in Negativland. It's disorienting in an eagerly provocative kind of way. Repetition, rhythm and texture. Combined into a familiar strangeness. Altogether wonderful. Searching, fleeting, full-bodied and reverently within Neu!'s rigorously self-imposed rhythmic constraints at the same time. It's this bubbling, groovy and often aggressive straight-forward melody that runs amok over the strictness in Neu! that I often find myself enchanted by.

Lieber Hoenig is a hissy lo-fi tribute of things to come. An understated guitar melody that searchingly seeps into a tape hiss of vulnerable, physical and up-close vocal lines that greedily, but warily reach out into the light. This amazing insecurity gets enveloped back into the safe, bassy strings that we've heard before.

I really don't know how to summarize a musical experience such as this. It's a strictly rhythmic commandment to follow along and never look back as well as a relaxed, ambient journey into the subconscious hinterland of human vulnerability. It's a demonstratively futuristic sound of music. And eagerly progressive. Perhaps a bit challenging on your way forward through the album once you've pressed play, but fearlessly plowing its way into the unknown has its own rewards. It reeks of a self-assured poise and a security in its musical ideas, even though its a debut album. Paradoxically, a sense of careful, almost tender, attention and vagueness is equally important. And that's what turns it into a masterpiece. It's so restless. And it feels as restless today as it must have felt like over forty years ago.

Gotta count for something, right?

5 stars.


 Neu! '75 by NEU! album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.92 | 203 ratings

Neu! '75
Neu! Krautrock

Review by LinusW
Special Collaborator Italian Prog Specialist

4 stars Sliding between effortless proto-ambient pseudo-electronica, minimalistic fingerspitzengefühl, brutalistic DIY and a cleansing, raw simplicity, Neu! '75 is a modernistic little cabinet of curiosities. It serves as a perfect bridge between the mid-to-late seventies' (often ambidextrous) juggling of clarity, simplicity and downright don't-give-a-damn and a fair bit of artsy, textural and often long-winded sonic experimentalism. Clean, tidy and seemingly restrained. The actual movement and development is all occurring outside where your normal focus lies. Just as it happens in life in general.

Bringing up the tired old Motorik sound is almost a bit of a cliché at this point, but you can't help avoiding it. Rather simple and repetitive rhythms hang heavily all over this album, deceptively anchoring the sound in a flat and effortless soundscape of wide open spaces and riveting, endless clarity. It's a cunningly clinical and intrinsically modernistic form of expression, that at first hides its full delicacies and warmth for the casual and fleeting listener. Give it just a tiny amount of well-deserved attention and time and layer upon layer of primitive sensuality and grace will materialize before your very...ears.

Space. Oh yes. Space more than anything defines an album such as Neu! '75. Breezy, airy and full of delicately silken touches, the impressionistic sounds slowly weave themselves into a tapestry of almost naturalistic beauty, when slow and restrained piano lines slide into sampled sounds of lazy and hazy summer afternoons and the ever restless (and occasionally threatening) seaside. There is an almost otherworldly quality to some of the compositions. Gleaming, shimmering, fleeting, rising and falling keyboard sounds that never try to fully flourish into melodic maturity, but rather hover and warble over a gradually shape-shifting sand dune of music. Slow, simple and gradual. Measured, clear and earnest. And inevitable, I guess. Guitars and bass stand out as melodic, but equally rhythmic focal points of an unclear and decidedly linear, but slowly evolving and gradually integrating set of sounds, perhaps with a hazy and wordless vocal line wearily tagging along for the ride.

Hero stands out as a more immediate bridge between the slight, but much loved, odour of over-ripeness of much of progressive rock and the sluggish, revivalist tendencies of primeval punk aggression and directness. It incorporates a slimmer, leaner form of the aforementioned qualities in an up-tempo exposé of ringing and hard-hitting lines of more in-your-face and reactionary musical ideas. Brawling with themselves, the vocals run around the music aggressively, challenging the music to join them for the ride in a raw, unfiltered world of urges and "baser" expression. I love it. After Eight joins the snarl, marrying that same steadfastness with a hissing, bubbling and unsettling form of rock reincarnation that I find very hard to resist. Post-rock, but in a completely different way than how it's envisioned today.

Loving this is not immediate. I grappled with the often proclaimed charms of Neu! for quite a while before I found the way into the heart of the music. Beautifully antagonistic ideas of near-industrial simplicity and effectiveness clashing with smoothly evocative and melodious romanticism. Couple that with an urgent release of brutal energy and, apparently, you've hooked at least one other listener.

Don't avoid this!

4 stars.


 Neu! '72 Live! In Düsseldorf by NEU! album cover Live, 1996
2.78 | 12 ratings

Neu! '72 Live! In Düsseldorf
Neu! Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The only live document from the Krautrock heroes of Neu! has achieved a certain notoriety among fans, both for its iffy (i.e. nonexistent) production values and its questionable legality. The album was released by Klaus Dinger more than twenty years after the band's final breakup, probably for a quick fix of ready cash, and certainly without the approval of his ex-partner Michael Rother.

And it isn't, strictly speaking, a concert recording at all, but rather a "non-public test" (in Dinger's words) for an upcoming set of gigs, captured in less-than-glorious low fidelity on strictly non-professional equipment (a cheap audio cassette player, I'm guessing).

First, the bad news: the sound quality is undeniably atrocious. The bass guitar of guest-star Eberhard Kranemann (a comrade from the early days of KRAFTWERK) tends to overwhelm the other instruments, and Dinger's drum kit might have been played in a different building altogether, across a busy street. The louder the music, the greater the audio distortion, and in what sounds like an empty warehouse the trio could be very loud indeed.

It was all part of Klaus Dinger's proto-punk, audio vérité aesthetic, which means you can expect a lot of more or less dead air between the moments of actual performance. That irritating scraping noise, by the way, was likely a microphone dragged across the concrete floor while the instruments were being re-tuned.

But the album hardly represents the bottom of the Krautrock barrel, as some reviewers have said. Despite all the cosmetic shortcomings, you're being allowed privileged access to a Neu! rehearsal...and you're complaining? Never mind the poor sound or the lack of structure or the time spent searching for that elusive one-chord groove. Enjoy instead the rare experience of being a fly on the studio wall while two Krautrock legends struggled to find their muse. Whether or not they succeeded is beside the point.

Maybe the belated release of these tapes was Dinger's desperate attempt to 'beat the boots', following the example of FRANK ZAPPA's anti-bootleg campaign. The difference was that Zappa marketed the material himself, rather than selling it to the first outside bidder with an open wallet. As an officially sanctioned album it would have tarnished the band's impeccable legacy. But as an only semi-legitimate, untouched portrait of a Neu! practice session-in-progress it's well worth investigation by Krautrock completists. Call it a two-star treasure to die-hard collectors, with another star added for raw documentary appeal.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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