Ambient/Electronic/Experimental/Krautrock Germany 1970s (Tracks)
Neu! (Düsseldorf, Germany)
“Hallogallo” A1 track (opening track) included on the album “Neu!”
Released on Brain Records ( brain 1004), Metronome Records ( 1004) in 1972
Michael Rother – guitars, basses, producer
Klaus Dinger – Japanese banjo, drums, guitar, vocals, producer
Konrad “Conny” Plank – producer, engineer
Cover [Cover Von] – Neu!
Engineer [Tontechnik] – Conrad Plank
Lacquer Cut By – PF
Music By – Klaus Dinger, Michael Rother
Photography By [Fotos Von] – Fritz Müller, Thomas Dinger
Producer [Produziert Von] – Conrad Plank, Klaus Dinger, Michael Rother
Released in a gatefold cover.
First pressing: the labels have the wording ”Metronome” across.
“Jahresüberblick” or “Jahresübersicht”? The title is handwritten as “Jahresübersicht” on cover but printed on labels and later copies as “Jahresüberblick”. Obviously a mistake.Recorded in December 1971 at the Windrose Studios (Dumont-Time), Hamburg.
Mixed at Ralf Arnie’s Star-Musik Studio, Hamburg.
1. Hallogallo (10:07)
2. Sonderangebot (4:50)
3. Weissensee (6:42)
– Jahresüberblick :
4. Im Glück (6:52)
5. Negativland (9:46)
6. Lieber Honig (7:15)
Total Time: 45:42
Neu! – “Neu!” Album cover photo (front)
Neu! – “Neu!” Album photo (A’ Side)
Neu! – “Neu!” Brain Records, Album Advertisement
NEU! is a duo of Michael ROTHER (guitars, keyboards) and Klaus DINGER (bass, drums, vocals, guitar and piano). They jumped ship from KRAFTWERK at a very early juncture. The ’70s electronic band NEU! created a new kind of rhythm that bridged the gap between rock n roll’s syncopation and dance music’s four-to-the-floor beats. NEU’s music is simple, natural, creating evocative soundscapes that are stimulating rather than tranquilizing. Their melodies are balanced upon driving almost hypnotic beats. From big fans BOWIE and ENO back in the seventies to the hundreds of postrock/electronica acts that namecheck them now, NEU! are gods.
NEU! only made three studio albums during their brief existence in the 70s (another studio album was released in 1995, called “Neu! 4”), but they were uniformly excellent. It’s possible that you could discern their “style” just by listening to this one (or any one of the others), but as with CAN, FAUST and KRAFTWERK, to really get the full experience you have to hear all of them. The debut is a fascinating work of experimental Krautrock. The critical status quo qualifies “Neu! 75” as the best of three albums, simply because it is the most musically adept and holds the most studio polish. The “Hallogallo” begins the first album, and is an essential slice not only of Krautrock, but of musical history. This hypnotic album is the most like KRAFTWERK, but the emphasis is on guitars, not keyboards. “Black Forest Gateau” is a British compilation drawing entirely on the first and last LPs.
Krautrock may not be every prog fan’s favorite type of music, but there are few canons that demand as much dedication from the listener, and in the end, the trance can’t work its magic unless you’re there for the duration. I say Krautrock is great prog, and NEU! is as definitive a specimen as any.
hile little known and relatively unheralded during its brief existence, the Krautrock duo Neu! cast a large shadow over later generations of musicians and served as a major influence on artists as diverse as David Bowie, Sonic Youth, Pere Ubu, Julian Cope, and Stereolab. Neu! formed in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1971 after multi-instrumentalists Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger both split from Kraftwerk. Recorded in the space of four days with Can producer Conrad Plank, the duo’s self-titled debut appeared early in 1972 and quickly established their affection for minimalist melodies and lock-groove rhythms. While virtually ignored throughout the rest of the world, the album sold extremely well in West Germany, resulting in a tour with support from Guru Guru’s Uli Trepte and Eberhard Krahnemann.
Rother and Dinger returned to the studio in 1973 for Neu! 2, but a shortfall of cash allowed the duo to complete only two songs, “Super” and “Neuschnee,” which they subsequently remixed at varying and disorienting speeds in order to flesh out a full-length album. After the record’s release, Rother joined Dieter Moebius and Joachim Roedelius of Cluster to form Harmonia, but Neu! officially reunited in 1975 to record Neu! 75. After its release, they again disbanded; Rother continued on as a solo performer, while Dinger and drummer Hans Lampe formed La Dusseldorf. In the mid-’80s, Rother and Dinger re-formed yet again, although the recording sessions, titled Neu! 4, did not officially surface until 1996.
The problems Klaus and I have with one another cannot be separated from our music. We have such completely different personalities. The actual mystery is how we were able to do the three albums together at all. Our opposing characters sometimes led to great friction, crazy struggles and contradictions in our music. This is what made Neu! so special.”
That is Michael Rother, one half of the legendary Neu!, discussing the first authorised CD releases of the group’s three classic albums: Neu!, Neu! 2 and Neu! 75. Along with Can, Kraftwerk and Faust, Neu! are the most iconic of that new wave of German rock groups from the late 1960s and early 1970s that goes under the disparaging but affectionate banner of Krautrock.
Neu! consisted of multi-talented musicians Klaus Dinger on drums and Rother on guitar; they first played together in a 1971 Kraftwerk line-up. In Europe in the depths of the cold war, West Germany’s economic miracle was set against the social radicalism of the post-1968 counter-culture and the avant-garde of Karlheinz Stockhausen and Joseph Beuys. Bands such as Neu!, Faust, Amon Duul II, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream explored the gap between these two polar opposites, expressing in their post-rock music the fractured ethos of the times.
At a crucial remove from the mainstream – and, largely, from each other – they were connected only by their disconnection from dominant political and musical currents, influenced as much by Stockhausen as by the Stones, the Kinks or Jimi Hendrix. Krautrock began where the early Pink Floyd and the Velvets left off, playing into an unexplored wilderness. Where they went, others – Bowie, Eno, John Lydon, the Fall, whole genres such as electronica and trance – would follow.
A recently released Japanese DVD of Kraftwerk performing on Beat Club in 1971 features the future Neu! with Florian Schneider improvising the 10-minute, trance-like Rueckstossgondoliero. This, if anything, marks the birth of the Neu! sound and ethos. But personal and musical tensions between Dinger and Schneider meant a split was inevitable. Soon afterwards, Dinger and Rother launched Neu! with the help of renowned producer Conny Plank, the Lee Perry of Krautrock.
Unlike many other groups in the “kosmische” genre, Neu! left only a tiny recorded legacy, and through the height of the Krautrock revival in the 1990s the only available copies of Neu! CDs were bootlegs, with overtures from record companies such as Mute stalled by the band members’ conflicting demands. It wasn’t until last year that tensions between the two were resolved to a point where they could finally agree on an official release of Neu!’s albums.
Both oversaw the remastering of the music, and there has even been talk of a boxed set with remixes, a book and a DVD of interviews and Neu! documents. This, however, has been delayed, perhaps indefinitely, by continuing disagreements.
The first Neu! album was recorded more or less spontaneously, from the roughest of musical sketches, over four nights at Conny Plank’s Hamburg studio in December 1971. “It was chaos,” remembers Rother, while Dinger says: “After two days we hadn’t recorded anything we could use.” Then on the third day they played the basic track of Negativland, which became the template for future operations. With Plank at the helm, Neu! turned the basics of their sound – Dinger’s insistent “motorik” drumming, Rother’s stripped-down riffing – into kosmische classics, with the mixing desk as essential a musical instrument as Dinger’s kit or Rother’s guitar.
The album’s first track, Hallogallo, is classic Neu!, championed early on by John Peel who played it regularly on his radio show. Trance-like, yet too barbed and unsettling a sound to become sweet, the song is a 10-minute sound sculpture that barely wavers from Dinger’s pulsing beat, and somehow seems to hold a whole world of mystery, beauty and emotion within its highly defined minimalist structure. Dinger refers to his drumming as “a feeling, like a picture, like driving down a long road or lane. It is essentially about life, how you have to keep moving, to go on and stay in motion. To be driven by the drive.” It may well be the greatest road music ever made.
During the recording of their second album in 1972, the pair ran out of money and filled the second side of Neu! 2 with scratch versions of their only single, Nueschnee/ Super, played at different speeds on a cassette player that “howled and chewed tape” and on a hand-driven turntable with a jumpy needle. Typically, Dinger called such emergency operations a “pop art solution to a pop problem”, and in retrospect the trick does have the dumb beauty of many a great conceptual idea. What was once seen as a cop-out is now hailed as an innovation, and Dinger claims it as his own. “I was very well informed about Warhol, pop art, contemporary art,” he says. “I had always been very visual in my thinking.”
Even the band’s name had a pop art dimension – it was and is the most common slogan in German advertising. And Neu!’s music comes across as a very sculptural, kinetic sound. The album covers – Neu! hand-painted in big, bold strokes, the semi-legible credits handwritten, crossed out, taped to a brilliant white background – give the whole enterprise an inscrutably gnomic, handmade quality that is an integral part of the band’s aura and legacy.
True to the spirit of Neu! integrity, the covers have been remastered for the CD release. They are a clear agitpop statement that the group’s parameters were radically different from those of other German groups, let alone those of mighty Anglo-American rock, then at its 1970s stadium apogee.
For Neu! 75, their final official release, the two musicians reconvened at Plank’s studio after working independently on solo projects. For the first, more ambient side of the album, they worked, as they had three years previously, as a duo. On side two’s abrasive proto-punk songs After Eight and Hero (a Bowie favourite and the inspiration for his own career-defining Heroes), they drafted in members of Dinger’s new group, La Düsseldorf, and Neu’s final incarnation was as a stripped-down, sand-blasted four-piece that anticipated virtually all the pathways opened up by punk a year later.
Neu!’s music is spiky, oppositional, beautiful and utterly uncompromising. Its chemistry mirrors the volatility of its makers. Every Neu! song contains the basic warring elements that made Dinger and Rother’s creative rela tionship so productive: a struggle between noise and silence, aggression and calm, pattern and disruption. Each would pursue his own path of extremes in subsequent ventures, but on their three classic albums the finely balanced magic of the Neu! sound manifests itself to perfection.
“Neu is what happens whenever Michael and I are together,” Klaus Dinger has said, and though Neu! may be their finest achievement, it is only part of their legacy. La Düsseldorf, which Dinger led until 1981, explored the glam-pop industrial wing of Neu!’s innovations, while Rother teamed up with kosmische duo Cluster to produce the two shimmering, lovely Harmonia albums.
Both projects caught the ears of Bowie and Eno during the Heroes era in Berlin. Rother was asked to play on the sessions, but he declined. “I think [Bowie’s management] wanted to see Bowie change to a rock music sound for commercial reasons,” he comments. Rother did collaborate with Eno, however. Four years ago Rykodisc released Harmonia 76’s album Tracks and Traces, recorded 20 years before in the countryside of Weserbergland, where Rother still lives. There are beautiful ambient collaborations, too, between Eno and Cluster from the same period.
Krautrock is the music of a generation at one remove from rock’s American source, as self-conscious and home-grown as the 1960s British Beat boom. On classic tracks such as Lilac Angel from Neu! 2, Dinger and Rother distil the core elements of garage rock to a pounding heart pulse, forging a hypnotic, interior sound that builds up to and even sur passes the rock’n’roll intensities of the Stooges or the Velvet Underground. The group’s industrial ambience has no match.
There is a curious timelessness and internationality about Neu!, a common beat that spans east and west. They and the other great Krautrock groups were social, political and musical trailblazers, defining their contexts at one extreme in the utopianism of the commune and at the other in the Baader-Meinhof mindset of confrontation and action. Both represent the idealism and terror of the times, the deep heat of the cold war at the heart of a divided Europe. Neu! and their Krautrock peers simply planted their own suspect devices, throwing their noise bombs into music’s country without borders.
Formed by guitarist Michael Rother and percussionist Klaus Dinger, both veterans of Kraftwerk, Neu (102)Neu! (1972 – Gronland, 2005) pushed to the limit the technique of iterative patterns and the impressionistic approach that were popular among contemporary cosmic musicians. Pieces such as Negativland are essentially continuums of rhythmic impulses propelled by Dinger’s legendary “motorik beat” and by obsessive repetition of ferocious percussive patterns (occasionally bordering on jack-hammer noise). It was tribal drumming applied to the devastating neurosis of the post-industriale era. Fur Immer, on their second album, 2 (1973 – Gronland, 2005), offered the last glimpse into their personal and public hell. Neu! 75 (1975 – Gronland, 2005) was a much quieter and softer affair, downplaying the rhythmic element and incorporating a stronger melodic element. Neu’s anti-romantic futurism and anguished hyper-realism of Wagner-ian intensity would be highly influential.Full bio.
(Translated from the Italian by Troy Sherman)
Following their departure from Kraftwerk, Michael Rother (guitar and keyboards) and Klaus Dinger (drums) began Neu!, one of the most significant happenings in the history of rock music. Although they created only three albums (1972, 1974, 1975), they exerted a huge influence on the music of later generations. Even so, it took a quarter of a century before their insights were absorbed by the rest of rock music.
Neu! (Brain, 1972), their first album, was produced,as the next, by Conrad Plank (the same person who had produced the first Kraftwerk record). It brought to rock music the concepts of iteration and impressionism, which had already been mildly toyed with in the works of other cosmic musicians of those years. The songs are essentially a continuum of rhythmic impulses, based solely on percussion and an incessant repetition of a fierce percussive pattern. In practice, the songs become rituals of the deconstruction of sound: the relentless, obsessive beat favors the emergence of details. The method is also used to enhance the neurosis of each piece. Fusing the “dark” tribalism of Kraftwerk and the romantic futurism of Popol Vuh, Neu! contains songs with a certain hyper-realism and an anguished intensity reminiscent of Wagner. The album contains six purely instrumental suites. They are the degenerated, dilated daughters of psychedelia (the reserved guitar playing and coy and slow pulse of Weissensee); this music brings an absurd sound to arrhythmia (Sonderangebot is an exercise on noise in a cosmic void, and Lieber Honig is a voiceless essay created by hand in an equally spooky atmosphere of random sounds). The supersonic vortex of Hallogallois a pure percussive soundscape of drum machines and guitars, barely disturbed by agreements of minimalism and cacophonous noise. The ten minutes of Negativland contain a blend of expressionism and demonic tribalism, predating heavy metal; this song is an orgy of evil instincts, a whirlwind of daily, psychoanalytic noises (jackhammers, furious guitar distortions, and an ultrasonic syncope). With this austere and hypnotic masterpiece, the Teutonic tradition (that of the desperate Gothic) is combined with psychological tensions of modern times in a demonic ritual. With this record, Neu! invented the “motorik beat;” a propulsive beat and steady pace, which turns the artists’ anguish into a sonic trance.
Neu! 2 (Brain, 1973) is more fragmented than the first record (the duo could not find the money to complete the recording), and it incorporated keyboards. The key song is Fur Immer, which consumes ten minutes in a neurotic seizure similar to that of Negativland. This song, however, is closer to minimalism (the insistent piano pattern) and Sister Ray by the Velvet Underground (the obsessive and inexhaustible drumming). The songs live in the same eerie paranoia and extremely narrow range of expression as the previous records: the theme is always furious, percussive, and atonal, quartered by excruciating bouts of distorted guitar, which concedes nothing to the melody and sensationalism. Through the tribalism of Lila Engel, the shrill carousel of Neuschnee 78, and the crawling gait of Super 16, which was a child of the raucous Super (the two tracks, and Super 78, were the same song recorded at different speeds, as the titles suggest), their repertoire is proven to be a catalog of horrifying technological cadences. Among other things, this second album contains several versions of songs that Neu! had already created played at different speeds. Although these altered tracks were created partially because the band ran out of money, they were nevertheless some of the first cases of “remixes.”
Neu! 75 (Brain, 1975) is a rather different album, much quieter and softer. The album downplays the rhythmic element and incorporates a stronger melodic element. The resulting atmosphere is almost pastoral, by their standards. Neu! used to be the dark side of cosmic music, but here they explore a lighter side of cosmic music. Isi is angelic music for piano, locomotive beat and Terry Riley-ain electronic dervishes. The trance in Seeland is due to both the minimalistic beat and the guitar’s middle-eastern line, and the mixture sounds like the missing link between early Pink Floyd and early Brian Eno. The “motorik beat” returns in E-Musik, but, again, the guitar and the keyboards dance on it with a gentle, melodic elegance. Neu! even speaks (or, better, whispers) in Leb Wohl, a delicate sonata lulled by ocean waves that sounds like a slow-motion replay of a romantic ballad and abandons their trademark massive rhythms. Hero is a rock song, and an anthemic one, with strong echoes of the Stooges and the Rolling Stones. So is After Eight. And they both predate punk-rock. Overall the album is a lot less experimental than the previous two, but it may have helped insinuate Neu! into the mainstream.
Rock on Brain (Brain, 1980) is an anthology. Neu! 4 (1995) is a reunion album. Live in Dusseldorf (Captain Trip, 1996) documents a 1972 performance.
After the dissolution of Neu!, Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger pursued separate careers.
After the break-up, Michael Rother created the supergroup Harmonia, which was comprised of him and most of Cluster. After Harmonia, Rother then embarked on a solo career more in line with the sound of Neu! 75. Flammende Herzen (Sky, 1976 – Water, 2008) recovers the dark, obsessive, demonic, trend of the other Neu! albums, with rhythmic lines repeated until the neurotic sound becomes claustrophobic. He either soaks these claustrophobic numbers in melodic contexts (the titular suite), leaves them to drift in minimalist progressions (Zyklodrom),or both at the same time (Karussell). A hellish pace infects Feuerland, seemingly a left-over black-magic ritual of Walpurgis Night. On this first solo record, Rother plays guitars, bass, piano, organ and synthesizer, assisted only by Jaki Liebezeit on drums. Sterntaler (Sky, 1977 – Water, 2007), again with only Liebezeit, already begins showing much less originality than Rother’s previous works. The subsequent discs, Katzenmusik (Sky, 1979 – Water, 2008), Fernwärme (Random, 1981 – Water, 2007),Lust (Random, 1983), Sussherz Und Tiefen Scharfe (Random, 1985), Traumreisen (Random, 1987), would only repeat the deteriorating formula. Each, though, was saved by some rare melodic idea that saved it from mediocrity. After many years of silence, Rother returned with Esperanza (Random, 1996).
Post-Neu!, Klaus Dinger formed LA Dusseldorf, in which he played guitar and keyboards, accompanied by Hans Lampe on drums, Thomas Dinger on percussion and vocals, Harald Konietzko on bass, and Nicolas van Rhein on keyboards. La Dusseldorf(Nova, 1976 – Warner, 2005 – 4 Men With Beards, 2008) is a hybrid of many things, but seldom recalled Neu!; if anything, it harked to Amon Duul and Can. Their masterpiece, Dusseldorf, was one of the greatest manifestos of Teutonic electronics; it combines the spaciousness of Kraftwerk and physicality of Neu. It is at the same time a tribal dance and a journey into the subconscious. The relentless beat of the drums and synthesizer overlap in myriad sound events, which includes spells, wheezing hallucinogens, guitar distortions, solfeggi mantras, and spatial organs, which all lead into the growing chorus. Even more stunning is the concise anthem La Dusseldorf, a tour de force of grotesque and manic spiritualism grotesque. Silver Cloud (their first single) is a song of appealing spaciousness.Compared to the violent, terrible expressionistic cataclysms of Neu!, LA Dusseldorf’s suites are more lyrical, melodic, and impressionist, although at the pace of savage and heavy industry. The hallucinogenic soundscapes are hymns to human existence, blasphemous orgies of spirits rising in sacred and solemn spirals, leaving behind the desolation of industrial noise.
Viva (Teldec, 1978 – Warner, 2005 – 4 Men With Beards, 2008) saw them approaching the mystical atmosphere of the utopian hippie. This record goes through a series of songs imbued with humanitarian pathos (the song Viva, the boogie White Overalls, the poignant and epic instrumental Rheinita, and the apotheosis of Geld). The Caribbean-futuristic Cha Cha 2000 rambles along for nearly 20 minutes to sublimate the solemn tones of the euphoric disk, and even of the entire era. Individuellos (Teldec, 1980 – Water, 2008) is a simple collection of “songs,” worthy of the synth-pop era (Dampfriemen, Individuellos). For a few years after this last album, Dinger was silent. Then he resurfaced with Neondian(Teldec, 1985), which is credited to Klaus Dinger and Rheinita Bella Dusseldorf. In actuality, this was a supergroup of Dinger on guitar, Nikolaus Rhein on keyboards, Jaki Liebezeit on percussion, etc). Again, several years of silence followed, until Die Engel des Herrn (1992), Dinger’s first true solo album.
Dinger’s next project was an ideal fusion of the two bands, appropriately named La! Neu?. Dusseldorf(Captain Trip, 1996) contains the 22-minute Hero ’96and the 33-minute D.-12.22.95, which is a wild psychedelic jam. But it would become one of those prolific, low-quality indie-rock projects of the 1990s, flooding the market with collections of rather mediocre (studio and live) music that crossed acid-rock, motorik sound and ambient electronica.Zeeland (1997) documented a 1997 live performance; Rembrandt (Captain Trip, 1997) is actually a collaboration with fellow La! Neu? member Lensink; Year Of The Tiger (Captain Trip, 1998) contains two half-hour exaggerations; Gold Regen (Captain Trip, 1998); the double CD Cha Cha 2000 (Captain Trip, 1998), which documents a 1996 Japanese tour, which was followed by Live In Tokyo 1996 Vol 2 (1999); Blue (Captain Trip, 1999), which collects unreleased material by Dinger; Live At Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (2002).
Dinger died in 2008.
Neu! are often touted as one of the most influential bands of the last thirty years; they’ve been praised by Julian Cope and imitated by the likes of Stereolab, yet it’s only now their three albums have made it to CD after years of legal wrangles and poor bootleg releases. In fact, for a long time it’s been easier to get a Neu ! T-shirt than any of their records.
Neu!,their 1971 debut is arguably the strongest record the duo of Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger made; its stunningly reductionist stuff, rock stripped down to its essentials of pulse and texture, arguably predating techno and the whole post-rock movement by a good fifteen years. It’s music with no narrative structure, not much in the way of dynamics – it just is.
The opening “Hallogallo” is the classic Neu! sound in a nutshell – Dinger’s crisp, insistent tribal drums underpin Rother’s yearning guitar figures and the whole thing spends 10 minutes going nowhere beautifully.
Elsewhere, “Sonderangebot” is an illbient dronescape of processed cymbals, “Negativland” is a wholseome slice of proto punk squeal featuring Dinger’s infamous Japan banjo, while “Weisensee” recalls Meddle era Floyd without the pomposity. All three albums are essential, but if you’re (ahem) new to Neu!, this is the place to start.
Neu! – “Hallogallo” Video file link on YouTube
Neu! – “Neu!” Full Album Video file link on YouTube
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