NEU!, NEU! 75

David Stubbs

By David Stubbs

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

NEU! 75


Despite the sleek, mobile serenity of their sound, Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger, the German duo who comprised Neu!, endured a fractious and turbulent relationship. Their temperamental differences are writ clear on their third album. The first half of Neu! 75 is given over to the gentler Rother. “Isi” sets out in the group's trademark “motorik” manner — no verses, no chorus, just a sustained 4/4 beat bowling along a rich highway of opulent musical scenery. Like Kraftwerk's Autobahn, recorded the same year, it ironically reflects a sense of post-war West German prosperity, the sound of a nation at ease with itself. “Seeland” and “Leb 'Wohl” are slower, almost absurdly luxuriant, ambient affairs, all distant, crashing synths and lapping waters.

The Krautrock duo’s final album.

Drummer Klaus Dinger is in the driving seat for the second half of the album and, while sticking to the continuous 4/4 principle, immediately strikes a more pugnacious chord. On “Hero” and “After Eight,” it's as if he's hanging his head out of the car window and screaming incoherently at passersby, in an uncanny prototype of the yet-to-come punk sneer. But it's on the prolonged “E-Musik” that he provides the high point of the album, driven by his silvery, studio-treated percussion, careering across the lanes on a delirious, picaresque journey that links Krautrock with later post-punk aficionadoes like Joy Division, the Associates and PiL.