Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lesser Spotted Tuesday: Neu!, 'Seeland'

Neu! were formed when drummer Klaus Dinger and guitarist Michael Rother split from an early, less synthetic version of Kraftwerk in early 1970s Düsseldorf. Though they were basically ignored commercially during their existence, Neu! is now considered one of the formative Krautrock artists but more importantly progenitors of a lost genre, obsessively minimalistic pop music.

The band dealt in ‘Motorik’, a term coined to describe the single minimalist 4/4 beat, which Dinger repeats continuously throughout most tracks. Although on paper this might seem a recipe for head scratching monotony, Dinger's virtuosity as a drummer generates a free-flowing groove, with a great sense of continuous forward motion designed to replicate the feeling of Autobahn driving.By the time of Neu! '75, Rother and bandmate Dinger had somewhat diverged in their musical intentions for the band, Dinger preferring a more aggressive, rock-influenced style, something akin to early punk music, while Rother quested after his own ambient predilections.

‘Seeland’ is the perfect example of the more ambient style of playing, the song is notable for its uses of samples, using natural sounds to create a futuristic headspace. Rother really shines, weaving intricate layers of delicate guitar and bass with the odd burst of soothing feedback. The band plays on, though it seems they’ve half forgotten the melody, the whole experience feels like being sucked through a black hole backwards. The enormity of the track is frankly immense, producer Conny Plank proves himself to be a master of texture, allowing his charges to blossom in the vast chasms of space.

Where to find: Neu!'75 (1975)

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