In German, Neu! means New! And in 1971, Neu! was indeed new, as that was the year this archetypical krautrock band formed. (As its name implies, krautrock is a form of German music that developed in the late 1960s and combined elements of non-blues-based rock, psychedelic, avant-garde and ambient.) It didn't take much time for the members of Neu!--Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother from another pioneering German band called Kraftwerk--to tear their way out of the shrinkwrap that encased them and become one of the very best bands of the genre.
So, what does Neu! music sound like? Some of their tracks feature simple, repetitive, "motorik" bass and drums layered with sheets of minimal, scalding guitar textures; while others are much more mellow and bathed in euphoric deep atmosphere. Neu! was responsible for other innovations, too. For example, due to a lack of funds to complete side two of their second album, the band filled it with re-worked versions of one of their singles and unwittingly invented the re-mix. And their final album, Neu '75, even featured an atypical snarling, fiercely aggressive track that became a huge influence on the subsequent punk rock movement.
Public Impact: Although Neu! wasn't commercially successful in the '70s, their music grew by word of mouth to cast a huge influence upon numerous other musicians over the decades, including Joy Division, Ultravox, PiL, Gary Numan, Negativland, Stereolab and countless electronic artists. In fact, Neu!'s sound was so far ahead of its time that it still sounds totally modern today. And after suffering from inferior bootlegs and languishing out of print for years, all three of their albums finally got a legit re-issue in 2001 and are easily available today. So highly recommended!
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