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erik.ivy@virgin.net (The Highlands And Islands)

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E2 E4
E2 E4
Offered by Smaller World Future
Price: £67.78

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electronica Redux, 5 April 2002
This review is from: E2 E4 (Audio CD)
Here we go again,the same old question,"What's this we're listening to? It sounds familiar but the covers weird,like a chessboard or something.When did you say it was recorded? I can't find a date on it."
So again,the same old question.What is this? Well it's kraut-rock,but not as you know it,you know it better as trance or techno or whatever the fad is this week. This is what Deep Blue chills out to after giving Kasparov yet another thrashing over the Internet. This is what will still shine when all the stars are dead.
It's 1981,I am 12 years old and listening to the same old same old. The mysteries of kraut-rock will not be revealed to me for at least another decade. But it matters not 'cos the scene is already long gone. Kraftwerk had more or less swan-songed with the quirky Computer World,the once mighty Tangerine Dream were cranking out 2 Hollywood sound-tracks a year,Can were finally out of ideas and everything else had been deleted.
Then from nowhere came E2-E4. Beamed to the Earth from the near future here was a fully formed archetype,a whole new genre of music,right here right now. Sure there were other pieces of early electronica around at the time,Jarre's highfalutin Magnetic Fields for example,but it all just paled in comparison. It either took itself far too seriously or was laughing at it's own cleverness. Even Eno and Byrnes masterly My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts,another '81 release,sounds more than a little po-faced to us know it all 21st century wolves. But E2-E4,I don't know, it's different somehow. The creative fire that could have nourished a 100 albums had been poured into just one and it's so difficult to criticise. At worst it's harmless and at best it's ground breaking electronica up there with Clusters Zuckerzeit album and Moebius and Planks Material. But influences by,or similarities to, no, there's nothing out there. Apart from maybe Steve Reich's work with Pat Metheney(remember The Orb's Little Fluffy Clouds sample?)
Gottsching had started out a guitar man but he spent a helluva lot of time hanging out with tech genius Klaus Schulze(check out his LP Black Dance) in the awesome Ash Ra Tempel. Schulze taught him well the way of machines,and on E2-E4 it shows. Some of the sequencer patterns on the album really are quite beautiful and astonishingly way ahead of their time . With every replay another sound track appears out of the mix. Listen out for that glass bottle thing dropping the smallest of octaves each time you hear it,until gradually,it begins to rise again, the perfect sine wave.
It's true genius, however, lies in the fact that it does not let up. E2-E4 pulses relentlessly for a full 60 minutes. Not fancy time changes, or themes, or any of that crap ,just one endless chess game drawn out forever over a blissfully cosmic event horizon(there is a track listing of sorts but to my dumb old ears its just one continuous unfolding )
Then there's the small matter of the guitar solo. I'm not going to tell you how long it lasts 'cos alarms bells will start ringing but what I will say is you've got to take stock of Gottsching's pedigree,specifically, his input into thee greatest rock'n'roll burn out of all time, Ash Ra Tempel's Join Inn, before you make a judgement on what you're listening to. For all the extraordinary electronica going on here the actual guitar track itself is quite unsullied and pure. No effects,or gimmicks,just a controlled and confident"I've made my mark so sod it" Muso ramblings are not my bag but i've got to hand it to Gottsching,it really does work.
10 years later Derrick May remixed this classic into Sueno Latino and finally the 'out of time' E2-E4 was back in the 90"s where it belonged,and now it had a medium,compact disc,on which it could truly shine. All the seminal electronica of the 90's,Underworlds Rez, The Chemical Brothers Music -Response,Underground Resistances' Amazon,Jaydees Plastic Dreams,all are in some way indebted to Gottschings old masterpiece.But if your buying this record for a history lesson,be prepared for a future-shock.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 3, 2013 8:10 AM BST


Neu!
Neu!

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars neu rising, 5 April 2002
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.


Neu! '75
Neu! '75

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bye Bye, 8 July 2001
This review is from: Neu! '75 (Audio CD)
Ah,the peerless Neu75,where do i start ?.. The 3rd album from the creative stable of Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger,Neu75 is essentially the culmination of all the themes,elements and styles laid down in their previous two epics Neu1 and Neu2 and allthough Neu2 maybe my personal favorite there's no doubt 75 is God's own prototype and easily the best of their work. An odd way to start a glowing review but 75s only fault is immediately apparent on the opener Isi. Overpolished and feeling lightweight for it,Isi takes the theme started with Hallogallo on 1 and perfected on Neu2s FurImmer a bridge too far.The drums never seem to elevate themselves beyond,well,crap and that that strange synth noise just seems to slow the whole thing down. But that being said,this is still a Neu thang and a wondrous widescreen thing it is too.There's a beautiful optimism about it that puts sunshine in yr stomach and those angelic aaahhhs sound like they were plucked straight otta the ether Metronomic beat,rich guitar groove,oriental cymbals all hit the spot right on,but TRACK2 Seeland's most remarkable feature is that it's cheesy guitar lead sounds so sublime.It begins almost anthemic,like a sombre rain soaked Olympic ceremony but then the lead finishes it's part and everything shimmers as it descends with distant echoes of Neu1 Weissensee.Glorious stuff. A great finish too,playing it all kinda half backwards as the rain comes down. Which leads us into TRACK3 Leb'Wohl. Mmmm Leb'Wohl,probably thee most gorgeous piece of music ever recorded and i don't even know what it means.Serene,becalmed and heartbreakingly melancholic,it leaves you yearning for things you'd never even lost.This is Rothers swansong and it's a supreme moment,beyond words,and one only the music can do justice to.My fav. Neu track period. TRACK4 is Hero,a real wake up bomb after Leb'Wohl,and the one where the band threw off their sandals,laced up their docs,Kerranked up the amps and spat in the face of side 1.Elemental metal music resonating yr skull and all it's contents,there's guitar effects goin' on here even God hadn't thought of.A benchmark and no mistake. And so we come at last to TRACK5,the criminally overlooked E-Musik. Well fit and stripped down from the start,it's all rythym up and drums drums drums.Then midway through that oh so confident strumming riff and phasing waves of drums.Then,the next ingredient is genius,a schoolhouse piano that sounds for all the world like missionaries trying to play along with an African tribal trance and actually succeeding! E-Musik,man,even the title was prophetic and allthough many dance bands cited Tangerine Dream and their mid-70s vcs3 and arp workouts as inspiration,ultimately it was tracks like E-Musik that really caught the mood and opened the doors.(see also Manuel Gottsching's E2-E4) Last up TRACK6 AfterEight and uh-oh,look out,it's Dinger again,gearing up for another punk classic.For a brief moment it's very nearly Roxy Music then whooosh, it surges away to enjoy itself as only Neupunk can. Hollerin' like whiskeyed up cowboys these are guys who are really diggin their joy- groove and it begs the question why the Brit-punks had to drop all this fun out of their music. No matter,sit back and delight in how it all could have sounded. And thats it,3 albums in 4 years, a mere 23 songs in all and Neu were through.But what a legacy.They propelled Bowie and Eno to the stars andlayed down the blue-prints for the Punk,New-Wave,Ambient,Dance and Avant-Garde Indie movements either side of the ocean.Rother and Dinger were not mere men they were magician-navigators and we all should have their names carved in our hearts.Snap up yr copies of all three albums 'cos these re-issues won't last forever.


Neu 2
Neu 2

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Difficult Second Album ....., 10 Jun. 2001
This review is from: Neu 2 (Audio CD)
Reviewing Neu 2,Gawd, what a prospect, and without invoking all the usual buzzwords (kraut-rock,hippy-punk,motorik)probably a hopeless task.Certainly,navigating this album is not easy,and of the 3 Neu made it's usually the one people shy away from.But persevere and the rewards are great. TRACK 1 Fur Immer starts it all off and immediately it all sounds far too edgy,all that tinny drumming and muddy mixing sooo 70's. And yr thinking what's all the fuss about .But maybe after a few minutes,when you've given up and yr mind has begun to wander and you've forgotten who or what yr listening to,maybe then it begins to slowly wash over you.Those hypnotic guitar riffs and strangely evocative pulsing drones.The drums fade into the distance and return softened with phasing and yr drawn in,compelled,ancient horns calling you.Yr thinking what is this? It is the soundtrack to every adventure you ever had in field flood and forest as a kid.What is this?It's 11 minutes long and over too soon.What is this?It's 30 years old and it's brand spanking New.TRACKS 2 and 3 kick off with screaming frequencies and waves upon a beach and end in airs and shy whispers, a drumming riot that slows and cools into thee most doleful big ben chimes you've ever heard. Much has been said 'bout the range of Neu's music and sure yer regular rock album will give you the fast groove 'n' slow ballad but no one outwith the classical world can give you the vast panoramic sweeps of mood that Neu do. TRACK 4 Put simply Lila Engel is the sound of Pan going electric.Great ku-chunks of chiming guitar,another pulsing looping drone,insane mantric chanting,it,s utter unbridled madness. You get halfway thru it and yr caught up in the agression of it all or yr worrying 'bout the neighbours,but either way you know it can't get any higher ,right? Wrong ! The drums suddenly aquire a power that's quite awesome ,yet another screaming layer of guitars shifts it all up a gear and they're OFF!! machine gunning any unhappy mortals who happen to get in their way.Too late you discover that these lunatics are summoning up some indescribable terror from an H.P. Lovecraft novel. It's truly shocking,it exhausts you in a way even The Stooges would struggle to do. TRACK 5 Neuschnee 78 kinda makes you giggle in a helium high sorta way until you realise that maybe the jokes on you.The story goes goes that they ran out of time and sorta started slowing and speeding up existing tracks to fill up the 2'nd side of the album. I dunno ,but i do know this speed-freak is interesting and dissapointing. Then ,just to confound you, the same technique is applied to the next track with sublime results. TRACK 6 Super 16 was born to played at this speed. It lumbers in,a half-speed lurching beast of a track,loaded with menace,an absolute horror classic.With the arrival of TRACK 7 Neuschnee we're back in the car again and cruising down the tree lined sun dappled country lanes of yr fondest chilhood memories. It's oboe like noises exude such a naive charm you're ready to forgive any faults you can think to give it.TRACK 8 Cassetto is another song that even at half-speed still describes itself perfectly. TRACK 9 Super 78 is an absolute hoot and does what Neuschnee 78 doesn't. It's screaming chipmunk voices,the speed stop starting and the way it finally all ends,man what a gas! Who says high art has to be serious. TRACK 10 Hallo Excentrico defies review and just is. Which leads us on to the last and ,for British punk,probably the most important number. TRACK 11 Super starts up with the deadly Teutonic confirmation of whose product you're actually listening to,a snippet of nervy drumming then klang!!! they're away!! Uptight 'n' edgy but utterly loose ,controlled and chaotic,sheathed in steel and mercilessly German,it defined punks direction years before it happened. After this masterpiece these guys split and went on to separately record albums that would sound more like Neu than Neu did (check out Harmonia and La Dusseldorf) and in the middle of all this they would somehow manage to re-merge long enough to record the Neu album that would out-Neu them all, 75. Most of us missed this band first time around, lets not make the same mistake again .


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