Neu!, by Neu!
Suggested by Bryan Connolly!
Neu! like exclamation marks!
The band name has one! Each of their three albums has one! Their first, called Neu!, was released in 1972! Their second, the imaginatively-titled Neu! 2, followed sharply in 1973! Their third, from 1975, was called Neu! 75. Much like Alien, Aliens and Alien 3, they abandoned conventional numbering, striking out in a fresh naming direction! I’m sorry, but the only thing that releasing Neu! 75 after Neu! 2 achieves is confusion regarding the omission of Neu!’s three through seventy-four!
And the exclamation marks! I hate them! I regard them with suspicion in general use, never mind in the singular use that’s championed by the band! As for overuse, as I’m doing here?! That’s the realm of the certifiably insane! At least they didn’t resort to the use of multiple exclamation marks on a single sentence!! That should be punishable by actual death!!! Or if you find that a bit harsh, then at least by trebuchet or similar medieval instrument of siege warfare!!!!
Exclamation marks signify a number of things! They are used after interjections to indicate strong feelings or high volume, or to show emphasis! They add drama to the text, and are generally considered fun! So, is Neu!, by Neu!, a fun album?!
No, it is not.
Much like the above exclamation-marked paragraphs, this album is a tricky at best and intensely irritating at worst. The band are heralded as pioneers of the so-called Motorik beat, a forward-flowing 4/4 beat with a moderate pace that forms the backbone to their sound. They are also the Grand Viziers of the experimental Krautrock sound, spawning prestigious bands such as Kraftwerk.
The album opens with the ten-minute Hallogallo, which is my standout track. In fact, I’d go a full step further and suggest it’s the only track worth an ounce of your time, and I’d even measure the ounce you do give it very carefully indeed. The Motorik drumming is in full effect, from minute one to minute ten, over which the band play a driven and largely unmodulated bassline and some low-key and wandering guitars. It’s moderately listenable, in a formless jazz-trance way, but ten minutes of it feels like a masterful troll, and by the end of it you’re happy for a change.
As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for.
The second track, Sonderagebot, is merely ambient sounds, and echo chamber in a diving bell in a flotation tank, into which someone slowly cascades a bag of ball bearings. The third, Weissensee, is a laid-back and shuffling exhalation of psychedelia that nearly sent me to sleep, and the fourth, Im Glueck, showcases some almost Aboriginal treated guitar work that’s topped and tailed by a fat man farting through a snorkel. The fifth, Negativland, returns to the Motorik beat, this time overplayed with a twanging repetitive bassline and some industrial buzz-saw guitars, while the final flourish, Lieber Honig, is nothing more than intensely minimal twanging strings accompanied by a high-pitched, tremulous, whispering gibbon.
Neu!, by Neu!, gets a lacklustre 4/10, entirely on the dubious “strength” of the first track. It’s impenetrable, repetitive, and too clever by half. For an album called Neu!, it gets old very quickly.