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Neu!

+ {La! Neu?}

Encompassing repetitive trance-rock and avant-garde improvisation, NEU! mined similar territory to early KRAFTWERK, AMON DUUL II or HAWKWIND (DAVE BROCK was a big fan). Along with the likes of CAN and FAUST, Messrs Dinger and Rother are held in high esteem by krautrock connoisseurs; compare PiL, JOY DIVISION, NEGATIVLAND and STEREOLAB records for example.
Formed in Dusseldorf, Germany, in autumn 1971 by breakaway/off-shoot KRAFTWERK musicians Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother, the former had also been part of 60s combos The No and The Smash (as drummer), the latter with underground act The Spirits Of Sound. Their brief stint at KRAFTWERK (to fill the imbalance caused when Ralf Hutter left temporarily) resulted in several live appearances and Dinger performing on `Vom Himmel Hoch’, from their 1970 eponymous debut.
When said Ralf reunited with KRAFTWERK’s Florian Schneider, the NEU! pair decided to cut their losses and an album, while the legendary knob-twiddler Konrad “Conny” Plank was available for four days; note that live gigs were augmented at the time by GURU GURU’s Eberhard Krahnemann, who’d also guested for their previous outfit.
NEU! (1972) {*8} was as much noisy and industrial as it was electronic and “road-worthy” improv. Via an apocalyptic junction to hell, the route (or roots) of “Autobahn” by way of `Negativland’ and opener `Hallogallo’ filled 20 glorious minutes, while for many other krautrock acolytes, the dreamy, PINK FLOYD-ian `Weissensee’ was the ace in the pack. If gurgling magma was your bag, then `Im Glueck’ continued the recurring dream, while rocking you to sleep was the fragile and fragmented conclusion, `Lieber Honig’ – someone there was truly plugged-in by some “whispering grass”.
United Artists (Brain Records in Germany) were also behind 1973’s seminal sophomore set, NEU! 2 {*7}. Multi-layered by the multi-musicianship of both “warring” parties Rother and Dinger (the latter again saving the day with his koto – a Japanese banjo), the perennial `Fur Immer’ (“forever”) was its light, as much as the `Neuschnee’ takes (`…78’, `Super 16’, `Cassetto’, et al) were its foreboding shadow; Dinger later admitted to running out of cash for side two, hence the prototype of the multiple remixes now characterised in most of today’s pop/rock singles market.
After a 2-year break in which Rother teamed up with CLUSTER buddies Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Mobius (as HARMONIA) for 1974’s “Musik von Harmonia”; “Deluxe” was recorded a year and a half later, NEU! reunited for what was to have been their swansong set, NEU! ’75 {*9}. As with the duo’s fractious concepts, side one was awash with Rother’s rock-to-ambient motifs (`Isi’, `Seeland’ and `Leb’ Wohl’ all sublime), while Dinger switched to vocals and guitar (plus two drummers: brother Thomas Dinger and Hans Lampe) on proto-punk `Hero’; plus the kaleidoscopic krautrock of `E-Musik’ and `After Eight’.
Resting NEU! indefinitely, Dinger duly re-enlisted his aforementioned sticksmen and formed La DUSSELDORF, while MICHAEL ROTHER was soon to release his first of many solo sets (`Flammende Herzen’) in 1977.
In demand since their abrupt separation before the advent of punk-rock, a re-grouped NEU! found time between October ’85 and April ’85 to record a set which they could not complete. Although left in the can until 1996, NEU! 4 {*5} was in line with overproduced 80s electro-pop records; tracks `Danzing’, `Crazy’, `Good Life’ the best of the batch.
In the midst of this regenerative period for the group, Klaus Dinger partly resurrected the name as LA! NEU? and enlisted a number of revolving-door musicians (including Andreas Reihse and vocalist Victoria “Wicki” Wehrmeister) to help him release two retro-krautrock sets DUSSELDORF (1996) {*6} and ZEELAND (1998) {*5}. Subsequently complemented by other musicians, the Japanese imprint Captain Trip also delivered further sets REMBRANDT: GOD STRIKES BACK (1998) {*5}, GOLD REGEN (1999) {*4}, YEAR OF THE TIGER (1999) {*6}, BLUE (1999) {*6}, and other out of sync sets. Sadly, Klaus Dinger died of heart failure at his Zeeland home on 21 March 2008. Rother, meanwhile, issued a single (`Blinkgurtel’) in 2010 by his live band Hallogallo 2010.
© MC Strong 1997-2002/GRD // rev-up MCS May2015

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