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Eine kleine klassik
on 24 July 2009
I'm no expert on so-called 'krautrock', but I've heard albums by Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Cluster, Klaus Schulze and Can and this beats them all. Though less experimental and more mainstream, the passion in Neu's music makes Can sound rather stuffy. Yet to say it's more mainstream is perhaps misleading. It just seems that way now. The first two tracks reveal pointers as to where Ultravox and a host of other subsequent bands got their sound from. 'Isi' is one of three tracks featuring some hard driving percussion (played, not programmed), minimalist electric guitar and atmospheric electronic background. Though solid, insistent rhythms are the foundation of Neu's music, they can knock out some decent melodies too. 'See Land', a slower track, is a beautifully crafted example. 'Leb Wohl', the most languid item, sounds like the sort of stuff you hear nowadays on relaxation CDs, with its surf wash sound effect and murmured vocal.
The highlight, though, is 'Hero'. Was Bowie listening? Were the future ranks of British new wave? From the opening salvo of guitar to the sneering vocal and crunching collision of all elements, this is hard driving, angry rock. 'E-Musik' provides a slower, lengthy, insidious interlude, topped off with wind tunnel and backwards effects, before 'After Eight' reprises 'Hero' with a more incendiary guitar sound.
This is the most accessible album I've heard in the genre and, in my opinion, a good place to start.