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This review is from: Neu! (Audio CD)
"The past isn't dead yet,the past isn't even over"
I think that was William Faulkner and how right you were baby.4 years of Mondays have flowed under the bridge since this long player first appeared,but Neu's uncanny ability to make time run backwards has made this record as 'fresh and now' as The White Stripes pulling out all the stops live in your bedroom.
I wish i could give you a few reference points for the album but it's plainly just so 'of itself'.
On it's release in '71,Neu 1 was so different,so alien,that music hacks at the time were completely baffled by it ,and had to invent new words just to review it.It wasn't progressive that was for sure,if anything it was revisionist,but it defied pidgeon-holing.
Sequestered deep in the heart of Germany,Neu had been brooding over their ideas for countless desert centuries.2 guys locked head-on in some epic,visionary,Gemini struggle,too obsessed and out there even for an early Kraftwerk,who were pretty far out there themselves.
A pair of natural originals,geographically removed and seemingly utterly indifferent to the early 70's music scene outside their own heads,so it was that Neu unleashed their masterpiece on an unsuspecting world.
1st up Track 1,Hallogallo,and to explain it's magic i'll have to conjure up the past..
Years ago i was playing this this song in the car and my passenger commented that it sounded creepy,cold and lifeless.Sure,it's deeply unfamiliar,and has a strange re-animated feel to it,but the Hallogallo groove is flawless, a Teutonic Sly Stone,and to this day thee most singular track i've ever heard.It has no musical precedents,none.The guitar leads are beautiful,almost organic,evoking great,extinct beasts calling out to each other over empty plains.Some of the rythym layers are so compressed and messed about with they start sounding for all the world like wah wah arm-pit farting!But Klaus Dinger's drumming never sounded better,tight as hell all the way to the end.
With Track 2,Sonderangebot,your lost in metal pipes underground,a theremin playing somewhere in all that steel. Not much to it really and basically a link piece to take us into ..... Weissiensee which from the outset immediately suffers from a regimental snare drumn that makes a slow march of it all. But give it time and it starts to work. Those organic guitars return,dreaming up ancient beasts again,coursing in endless plodding lines into the distant dust. Track 4 Im Gluck starts with a weird under-water recorded sculling of oars,and just doesn't stop. Sometimes it sounds like someone washing the dishes, other times they're just rowing round 'n' round in circles,seagulls wheeling overhead. A guitar refrain from Weissensee makes a guest appearance and thats it. A chill out track that either hits the spot or not. Track 5 Negativland. Bloody hell yeah, Negativland. Evil dentists wielding road drills,anguished moans,Nuremburgesque chanting,sweet mercy,what's going on here? The rawness, the power ,that relentless bouncing bass line. Did the Stooges ever here this? Cinematic is the only word that springs to mind,and rightly so because up until this point,only movies had been able to create the sheer shock of Negativland. It's a sound-track to a very unsophisticated torture. All that's missing are the screams but your mind is probably doing enough of that for you. Some days it's just too much but you've got to pay homage to this piece of cosmic punk madness. It may have been a trip too far for the hippies,but John Cage would have loved it. Last up is Lieber Honig and what a charmer. From the very first note you're entranced,and willingly your'e led back through the years to your lost childhood. Only two other pieces of music can do this for me,the Bagpuss theme tune and Julian Cope's classic, Search Party (from the lp Fried). Exactly what is going on here is difficult to say, the plantive,breaking,almost autistic voice,the long cello like drones,but what ever it is it's clearly unique,memories flickering through every note. Oh and remember that passenger in my car,the one who found Hallogallo so cold and lifeless? Well as Leiber Honig faded out to the gentle sculling of oars I can still see,clear as day, her eyes film over with tears,you know,the ones that don't fall out? Yeah,even the gods get sad listening to Leiber Honig. The 20th century created many moments of wonder, Neu 1 was one of those moments. A deeply telepathic record, buy it, buy it, buy it.