La Düsseldorf

La Düsseldorf

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After Neu! broke up in 1975, Klaus Dinger formed La Düsseldorf with his brother Thomas and Hans Lampe, who had both contributed percussion on Neu!'s swan song album. Neu! always displayed a split personality, rooted in the conflicting temperaments and sensibilities of Dinger and guitarist Michael Rother, differences that were dramatized on the duo's final record, where Rother's mellower, melodic atmospherics contrasted with Dinger's anarchic, noisier inclinations. Recorded in 1975, La Düsseldorf's self-titled debut effects something of a compromise between those two aesthetics. Built on driving beats and fleshed out with expansive synth coloring, the 13-minute "Düsseldorf" is a grand, pop-friendly homage to Dinger's hometown. Although its repetitive glide recalls Neu!'s signature Motorik groove, there's something more playful and joyous about Dinger's approach here, especially at the moments when the vocals venture briefly into mock operatics and a glammy piano hammers away. The title track involves similar sonic ingredients but puts them to more concise and aggressive use. As with Neu!'s "Hero" and "After Eight," Dinger injects this song with a speedy, sloganeering rush that anticipates punk; at the same time, though, its incorporation of a soccer-crowd chant seems almost a prescient parody of the brainless variant of punk that would later turn the movement into self-caricature. Indeed, while Dinger was punk avant la lettre, he already had a foot in the post-punk era, something that's most evident on "Silver Cloud" and "Time." These tracks are more minimalist, looking forward to the pared-down, monochromatic austerity that would follow punk's color-cartoon demise. On "Time," an oceanic ebb and flow and somber church-organ sounds eventually yield to a hypnotic, nodding pulse. The album's standout, the mesmerizing instrumental "Silver Cloud," sees prominent synths and mechanical rhythms impart a cool electronic aura that certainly resonated with Bowie and made its presence felt on his Berlin recordings.

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