Neu! 2


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Neu! 2 Review

by Thom Jurek

After the considerable success of their self-titled debut album, Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother set out ambitiously to record a follow-up. Virtually everything went wrong. The first of the artistic and personal differences that existed between them not only began to surface, but to flourish in the face of a nearly impossible studio deadline and overly tight budget. While the basic Neu! sound was not an issue, how to augment it was. As both a guitarist and a composer, Rother had already begun moving in the direction he would end up in with Moebius and Rodelius in Harmonia, and on his later solo recordings: a more unified, melodic, airy, and soaring sound that was full of light and yearning. Dinger, on the other hand, was looking for more anarchy, more chaos, and rock & roll dynamics. He wanted a music that was as dramatic and confrontational as he was. It's amazing this album turned out as well as it did. On top of all this, Neu! ran out of money in the middle of the project. Their plight was met by total indifference from the record company, who wouldn't advance them another mark. So they did what any normal self-respecting band would do: they simply re-edited and remixed two singles off the album and put them on side two to fill up the time. The end result is a perverse and controversial album, one that gives the middle finger to the label, and perhaps to the record-buying public as well. That said, the disc is a very worthy one as a whole; it's a beautiful bridge between the start repetition of the debut and the lush melodic textures of 75. The disc opens with one of the band's greatest tracks, the stunning "Forever." Guitar, feedback, pulse, and distortion equals motorik, the brand name for Neu! music. Rother's playing huge chords here, spun out of effects boxes and feedback squalls, and Dinger's drumming adds a tom-tom to the metronome of snare and hi-hat. The chords are darker, minor key flourishes added to a one-note bass throb. From here it gets abstract; nocturnal ambient soundscapes with no discernable instrumentation except for a warped drum palette to keep the big swathes of white noise company ("Spitzenqualitat" & "Gedenkminute") A guitar joins the sonic investigation on "Lilac Angel" as well as a pounded out drumbeat and a growled Dinger vocal. This must have been Neu!'s idea of a hard rock single. But side two is where things get strange. Having exhausted their budge they turned to re-releasing material in manipulated fashion. Needles dropping on records, playback roughs, backwards tape manipulation sped up or slowed down interminably, all with the unmistakable Neu! sound as a base. "Super" and "Neueschnee" are played back at various speeds. There is another track that concludes with a cassette tape being eaten by a player. This is one of the more out-there sides in the history of recorded music -- the dark side of the optimism presented by Pink Floyd's Meddle...without half the effort! Over time, this great big middle finger to the music biz has weathered the storm very well. In fact, it now sounds as if it were recorded this way based on aesthetics rather than anger. But at the time it merely showed a duo that had worn each other out and had been dissed by their record company. A fine and disturbing listen, it should be sought out by anyone possessing Neu! discs on either end of this one. This is essential Krautrock.

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