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NEU!

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! discography


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

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

4.05 | 365 ratings
Neu!
1972
2.95 | 131 ratings
Neu! 2
1973
3.92 | 217 ratings
Neu! '75
1975
3.12 | 30 ratings
Neu! 4
1995
2.17 | 16 ratings
Neu! '86
2010

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

2.78 | 12 ratings
Neu! '72 Live! In Düsseldorf
1996

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

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

4.33 | 3 ratings
2 Originals Of Neu!
1977
5.00 | 1 ratings
Rock On Brain
1980
4.67 | 3 ratings
Black Forest Gateau
1982
5.00 | 1 ratings
Vinyl Box
2010

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

3.04 | 4 ratings
Super
1972
4.00 | 3 ratings
Isi
1975
4.00 | 1 ratings
Neu! (Promo CD)
2001
5.00 | 1 ratings
'86
2010

NEU! Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Neu! by NEU! album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.05 | 365 ratings

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Neu!
Neu! Krautrock

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

4 stars How many seminal "Krautrock" debut albums were recorded in 1971? The first LPs by Ash Ra Tempel, Brainticket, Faust, Mythos, and Neu! all come to mind, although I'm sure there were others. Neu! must've been one of the last, recorded in December and released in 1972, and thus the group (drummer Klaus Dinger and guitarist Michael Rother) had the benefit of hearing what many of these other acts were doing. Yet Neu! doesn't sound much like these others (full disclosure: I've only heard excerpts from Brainticket's Cottonwoodhill).

Unlike much contemporaneous Krautrock I've heard, Neu! contains broad swaths of cool-headed and laid-back music, in some places rhythmic and trance-y, in others atmospheric. The exceptions are "Im Glück" and "Lieber Honig," the relatively experimental first and last sections of "Jahresüberblick." "Lieber Honig," the album-closer, is the only one of the six tracks I'm not particularly fond of. It's the only vocal song here (singing courtesy Dinger), and the vocals aren't very good. Maybe I'd feel different if I understood the language, but it seems dragged out, almost as if the group and producer Conny Plank were compelled to stretch this little tune to seven minutes.

But much of the album is very enjoyable. My favorites are "Hallogallo" and "Negativland," both of which are based on the "motorik" drum style. Dinger's (literally) driving beat makes "Hallogallo" in particular sound like Kraftwerk, the group he and Rother had just left to form Neu!. It's kind of amazing how much these songs prefigure early-1980s euro-wave (Gary Numan, A Flock of Seagulls). Maybe not surprisingly, Plank later produced albums by number of important British new-wave bands, including three Ultravox LPs (1978 to 1981) and the debut of by the Tourists (1979) and Eurythmics (In the Garden, 1981). American robo-rockers Devo also recorded their 1978 debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! at Plank's studio in Cologne.

Returning to Neu!: "Weißensee" is also a nice piece. Rhythmic, but mellower than "Hallogallo" or "Negativland," it's the second half of the acidic "Sonderangebot" → "Weißensee" sequence on Side One. This is the space-rock portion of the record, and from the point of view of format, its inclusion alongside the rock tracks and the experimental pieces marks Neu! as quintessential early-1970s Krautrock album.

Neu! is one of the best albums I've heard of this genre, and one of the most accessible. Thus I'd suggest it as a starting point for anyone interested in Krautrock.

 Neu! 2 by NEU! album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.95 | 131 ratings

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Neu! 2
Neu! Krautrock

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator 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.

 Neu! by NEU! album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.05 | 365 ratings

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Neu!
Neu! Krautrock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars While retrospectively going down as one of the most influential German bands to affect the works of a range of artists from Brian Eno to Sonic Youth, this D'sseldorf's dynamic duo's brief existence resulted after becoming refugees from one of the other great influential German bands Kraftwerk. The newly found refugees of Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger took solace in their project simply called NEU!, which is the German word for 'new' purportedly derived from the fact that the word was a primary color in the multi-pigmented world of advertising. Having gained his acquaintance in the fledgling Kratwerk, the late great producer Connie Plank also joined ranks with this new outfit and has been considered the third secret ingredient to the band's enduring legacy.

NEU!'s lauded self-titled debut hit the scene in early 1972 and contrasted greatly with the more blues and rock oriented psychedelia that made up much of the Krautrock scene. With Plank's keen ear to incorporate subtle electronic nuances coupled with his appreciation for all things metallic for percussion, the first offering from NEU! not only debuted a unique style of simple 4/4 rhythmic grooves based over a single chord which has become known as the motorik style (as heard on the opening 'Hallogallo' and the even more outlandish 'Negativland') but found bizarre new soundscapes that melded industrial bleakness with cheery bass grooves and hypnotic guitar tones. The recipe was simple on the surface but unleashes a deeper magic upon further investigations.

The sessions are now legendary as Plank served as the diplomatic voice of reason between the two inflamed passions of Rother and Dinger's eccentricities. While the initial recording sessions were proving to stagnate, everything changed when Dinger brought in a shamisen which is a Japanese banjo which once heavily processed through Plank's magic hands offered a glimpse into some of the strangest surreal music that the early 70s had to offer. The samisen can be heard on the band's notorious track 'Negativland,' which was so revered that the California experimental band adopted the name as its moniker and continued the zeitgeist of these early pioneering recordings.

This debut by NEU! is a strange beast and not one that immediately presents itself to the uninitiated. While the opening 'Hallogallo' which is a fully operating example of the motorik style which was a term retrospectively designated after having replaced the duo's own preferred 'Apache beat,' the majority of the album is a trip into the lysergic possibilities of electronic musical soundscapes, industrial bleakness, noise and psychedelic rock often existing indecently but more offering melding into the Strawberry Fields forever that the Beatles only hinted upon. While the accessible opener almost feels like pop candy, the following 'Sonderangebot,' 'Weissensee' and 'Im Glueck' only dive deeper into psyched morass of Planet OM.

The highlight surely has to be the outstanding 'Negativland' which offers all of the band's forays into weirdness sorted out and forced to perform in this exotic circus of sounds that extends towards the ten minute mark. While opening with the bleak harshness of industrial grade noise, the motorik drum and bass fall into a groove while the bulbul tarang aka Japanese banjo slinks and slides all over the place with an abrasive noisy guitar dueling out. This early noise rock appears to be one of the primary references for later successful bands such as Radiohead, Sonic Youth as well as the artier side of the post-punk bands that emerged several years later. While hypnotically groovy, the track picks up steam towards the middle and generates a more frenetic mix of the motorik groove accompanied by the 'spiraling-out-of-control' antics of the industrial sounds. Contrasts between silent parts and the bombastic is quite effective.

The album ends about as left field as possible from where it began. While 'Hallogallo' generated an instantly addictive warm and fuzzy rhythmic groove, 'Lieber Honig' provides the sole vocal performances with drugged out nonsensical utterances leading a rather angular chord progression of a guitar into who knows where. NEU!'s debut album has gone down in history as one of the most dynamic displays of indie outlandishness as each track delivers a stark contrast to the previous and found several unique ways to create hitherto unheard sounds. Unfortunately NEU! experienced little success although this debut album did manage to sell 30,000 albums in the underground album which gave the green light for a couple more albums.

While it may come off as a bunch of blathering idiots making undisciplined noise upon first listen, this 1972 landmark album is in reality a goldmine of tightly woven sounds sprawled out into one of the coolest musical tapestries of the Krautrock scene. Perhaps not quite the masterpiece that many make it out to be due to the inconsistent nature of the tracks that devolve into freeform freakery at various points, however this influential slice of experimental mix of rock, noise and electronica has really grown on me over the years and is just what the doctor ordered when i want to experience an album that runs the gamut of easily digestible entrees laced with a smorgasbord of lysergic side dishes. Much more interesting than the rather ho-hum album cover conveys.

 Neu! by NEU! album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.05 | 365 ratings

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Neu!
Neu! Krautrock

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

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.

 Super by NEU! album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1972
3.04 | 4 ratings

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Super
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
2.95 | 131 ratings

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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
4.05 | 365 ratings

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Neu!
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
2.95 | 131 ratings

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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.

//LinusW

 Neu! '86 by NEU! album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.17 | 16 ratings

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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

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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.

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

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