La Duesseldorf / La Düsseldorf


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If La Düsseldorf's self-titled 1976 album began Klaus Dinger's post-NEU! career with an innovative proto-punk bang, 1980's Individuellos ended the band's run with a near-irrelevant whimper. The album's original side one aims to re-create the driving, anthemic feel that distinguished the group's debut record, but the songs pale by comparison, coming across as half-hearted, one-dimensional knockoffs. Locked into familiarly rigid rhythmic patterns, synth- and drum-propelled numbers like the title track and the sloganeering "Menschen 1" (subsequently reprised as "Menschen 2" and "Lieber Honig 1981") charge along with relentless gusto, but, in terms of ideas, Dinger seems to be running on empty. Whereas the repetitive grooves on NEU! classics like "Hallogallo" and "Für Immer" delivered a hypnotic, transcendent payoff, most of these numbers are never anything more than mundane and mechanical: boring and bombastic, they hold up a distorting mirror to NEU!'s understated minimalist glide. Dinger's anarchic, playful spirit was always an asset in his previous work, but here things just tend toward the inane and the cartoonish. Cases in point are the keyboard-centered Wendy Carlos pastiches "Dampfriemen," a garish Oompah stomp complete with an inebriated novelty singalong, and the Thomas Dinger composition "Tintarella Di...," an execrable blend of fairground queasiness and Baroque-moods-for-the-masses. Amid all this, however, there are moments of respite: "Sentimental," an ambient interlude featuring an answering machine message apparently from Dinger's grandmother, and the atmospheric collage "Flashback," which incorporates the rowing-boat and water sounds from NEU!'s "Lieber Honig" and "Im Glück." (Both also, surreptitiously, recycle "Menschen 1" again -- backwards.) Although in 1976 La Düsseldorf anticipated the punk zeitgeist and pointed the way forward, Individuellos is the sound of a creatively bereft band reaching its inglorious conclusion. [The 1997 Captain Trip reissue compensates by including "Ich Liebe Dich" and the Joy Division-esque "Koksknödel," originally released together on a posthumous 1983 single.]

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