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  • Neu!
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 10 September 2010
I only heard Neu! for the first time a year or two ago and am still listening avidly to their music. You never know what's coming up next when you hear one of their albums for the first time. One constant, however, is that the first track on all of their 1970s albums features that lean, relentless beat that became their trademark, around which are wrapped subtle changes. As a result, 'Hallogallo' immerses the listener in a journey without any seeming end. It isn't surprising that they bombed as a live act; audiences, meagre as they were, probably thought Neu!'s music didn't go anywhere. The slower 'Weisensee', however, is the only other track which relies primarily on its beat. 'Sonderangebot' is much stranger, like a slow-motion scythe. 'Negativland' is a shock to the senses, opening with pneumatic drills, peppered with effects, ultimately to a regular beat, but like some clanking, industrial monster. The two tracks either side of this almost overshoot the avant garde approach, so quiet in places as to be imperceptible, 'Lieber Honig' being nigh on shambolic, but the album as a whole is still compelling.
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on 5 April 2002
"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.
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VINE VOICEon 29 June 2011
I was encouraged to buy this due to Neu being an influence of Loop, Wooden Shjips and other bands I have a lot of time for.

It's a very good album, but not always easy on the ear, and a couple of the more 'out-there' tracks, 'Lieber Honig' and `Sonderangebot', I just couldn't get on with, but the other four more than make up for it, and I agree with another reviewer that anyone's musical life would be poorer for not hearing 'Hallogallo', a really great number that I just can't wait to listen to on the motorway (/autobahn...)
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on 3 March 2014
Every popmusic lover should have one.This album album also influenced Steven Wilson. He recorded his version of Hallogallo on Signify
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on 25 October 2009
I listen to this and I hear precursors to so much music I love. Negativland could easily have been done by Warsaw or early Joy Division, for instance.

Neu! aren't always that listenable, at least to my unstoned modern ear, but there's some great music to enjoy and admire in this album, especially the wonderfully hypnotic Hallogallo and Negativland.

Neu! are/were a massive influence on a lot of Anglophone bands.
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on 11 March 2003
Other Neu albums are generally better reviewed, but for me this is the real thing and a defining moment in music history. I bought it on vinyl back in 72 or thereabouts and it's been a firm favourite ever since. Some krautrock classics (Can, Kraftwerk, Amon Duul) can sound dated, and even Neu's later recordings did little more than rework the same basic ideas, but this still comes up fresh as a daisy after more than three decades. As UK DJ John Peel said at the time -- "now that's REALLY alternative". Buy this, then buy everything Faust ever did.
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on 24 August 2013
Frightening how long ago this was recorded.
I hadn't heard it for years, but it is still fresh.
You can hear so many influences that have emerged through the generations.
Absolutely worth a listen.
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on 25 June 2011
It's one of those rare, perfect records that touches you deeply, and that simply can't be bettered. The effective simplicity of it is astounding.
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on 7 April 2014
A landmark in music. Even after over 40 years it is most certainly one of the most enjoyable and stimulating of musical experiences of all time.
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on 29 March 2008
Neu!'s debut is considered by many to be the best Neu! album. I can't really say it is (yet) because I'm still after a copy of Neu! 2. First... a short history lesson:

In the late 60s Michael Rother was in a band called "Spirits of Sound" based in dusseldorf and as far as I can tell they didn't release a single single (ha ha ha) or album. Also in the group was Wolfgang Flur (later in Kraftwerk) and others. Meanwhile, Klaus Dinger was making a name for himself and in 1970 was vacuumed up by Kraftwerk (then the duo of Hutter and Schneider), who's previous drummer had left leaving them with an album B-Side that needed recording. This was Kraftwerk's self-titled debut (didn't sell well outside of Germany and has never been legally reissued). After the album's release, for some reason, Ralf Hutter left the group. Florian Schneider was now left with no guitarist. Local man, Michael Rother was roped in. Rother, Dinger and Schneider (all end in "er", like Hutter. Conspiracy!) worked on their next album, and can be seen playing material from it on German TVs "Beat club" show in 1970. After 6 months however, Hutter returned. The material the trio had been working on was scrapped and a new album started (Kraftwerk 2) Rother and Dinger weren't very pleased about this and Rother was leaving anyway because the band didn't need to guitarists. Dinger followed him and set up Neu!

Neu! used the same theory (and possibly some of the same tracks) as the scrapped Kraftwerk album.

Starting from the top, Hallogallo (German for Hallmark) is the opener. For some reason, everybody thinks that Hallogallo is amazing and wish it could go on for longer. I'm indifferent. Hallogallo isn't that great but it's OK. To explain its sound; the first thing you hear is this weird clucking noise, like a chicken, and although I know it is part of a drum kit I can't tell which. This is accompanied by a solid base line, da da da daa da daa da d d da, and a motorik beat. This is quite good, then the treated guitar comes in, this is the part I don't like. All it is is single chords at a time.

After Hallogallo's 10 minutes are up, Sonderengabot starts. Sonderengabot means Special Offer in German, a theme that seems to run through both this and Neu! 2 (the second track in Neu! 2 is Spitzenqualitat, meaning "Special Quality). This is perhaps the most worthless piece of music I own. I don't know how they made that sound but it didn't take a lot of effort. At the start there is a crescendo of what I can only call a treated version of the sound of symbols being rubbed together. For most of the 4 minutes there is very near silence only punctuated by almost operatic vocals (?) if that's what it is. I doubt it as it is obvious from Neu! 75 that neither are good singers.

Sonderengabot merges into the next track: Weissensee (White Sea or White Lake). Weissensee is one of only three really good tracks. The drumbeat is almost Motorik, but very slow. In the background there is an almost ambient drone accompanied by some wah-wah guitar and the drum beat which is followed by the bass. AMAZING!

After this, on the old LP you'de have turned over. You are greeted by Im Gluck (In Luck). What Im Gluck is is a version of Weissensee with all that was good stripped off of it. Gone is the drums, gone is the bass, gone is the wah-wah guitar. All you're left with is the semi-ambient backing. And it doesn't even begin like that. The theme that runs through the B-Side is water. Im Gluck starts with a wierd watery sound, like Sonderengabot I can't tell you how they made it. It eventually fades into the ebbing and flowing of the ambient backing. It is obviously modelled on the sound of waves lapping on the shore but I find it extreamly boring. Don't write off that comment as the veiw of a person who only listens to main stream pop and shouldn't have bought this cd, because I listen to Cluster, Brian Eno, Harmonia, Faust and, yes, some mainstream stuff, but I bet everyone does.

After Im Gluck fades out with the same watery sound it started with, Negativland hits you. Before Im Gluck has had a propper chance to fade, the sound of a neumatic drill (?) arrives. The first time I heard this I actually jumped out of my skin. It is designed to come as a shock after the gentle shimmering of Im Gluck. This is followed on by what I perceive as the dying groans of a walruss. Weird, yeah. Negativland finally straightens out into a weird treated guitar line, like the wind gone mad. The drums (Motorik) and the bass kick in. It sounds really good on bass booster (if your stereo has that). Negativland is by far the best track on the record. But that isn't the end of it. Half way through the bass and drums cut out and its sounds like the wind goes faster, in a mechanical way, like a turbine being turned on. It is suddenly very clear that Rother has been playing the guitar, but slowed it down. The bass and drums cone back in at a faster pace before cutting out a while later and going back to the slower version. It speeds up one last time, and sounds like it's getting very manic, then everything cuts out without warning. OH MY GOD I LOVE NEGATIVLAND!

Negativland posseses the same threatening quality as Super 16 and Hero. It's no lullaby.

Leiber Honig (Love Honey) is the last track. It is kicked off by a very naiive, plucked guitar line, like a nursery rhyme, and then the vocals. It is the only vocal track on the whole album and the vocals are aweful. I don't know whether Klaus Dinger lost his voice on the day of the recording or it was another "pop art gesture". The vocals are probably in German but I can't tell. I think a German would have trouble decifering the asthmatic croaks emmitted by Dinger.

At the end of Leiber honig, both the vocals and the guitar fade out. The watery soun from Im Gluck returns and it fades into an even more ambient ebb and flow. For some reason I quite like this. Not bad at all. The record fades slowly away and Neu! is finished.

To me the album has 3 good tracks and 3 bad. Hallogallo, Weissensee and Negativland are good; Sonderengabot, Im Gluck and Leiber Honig [at the start] are bad.

If you're into Hard Rock, buy Neu! 2 first.
If you're into Techno, buy this first.
If you're into pop, buy Neu! '75 first.

Easy Peasy.

PS. The reason I gave it 4 stars is because the really good tracks balence out the bad ones.
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