Neu! :: Tribute Album

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Neu! :: Tribute Album

In 1972, Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother found themselves roiled by the commercialism of the music industry and fatigued by the monotony of blues-based rock & roll. Teaming as NEU!, they set their ambitions on electronic soundscapes that existed beyond the comforts of consonance. To celebrate five decades, the album was recently reissued alongside the duo’s entire discography in a deluxe package with a hardcover book. The set offers a complete immersion in these revolutionary sounds, sharp and driven by Dinger’s insistent, propulsive rhythms, but also a demonstration of NEU!’s continued influence in the form of Tribute, a collection of covers, remixes, and interpretations from artists like The National, Mogwai, Idles, Guerilla Toss, and more.

The best material on Tribute is that which grasps the fearlessness of the source material. Digging into the revelatory thesis statement “Hallogallow,” Stephen Morris of New Order and Gabe Gurnsey hardly coddle the track. Their remix transforms the 10-minute crescendo into a punchier, would be dance hall hit that nevertheless maintains the metallic flourishes that contour the space age feel of the original. Fink’s take on “Weissensee” reflects the song’s watery expanse, but lays down crunchier rhythmic lines. “Im Glück” as realized by The National conjures up a similar dint, intensifying the original’s marshy synths with terse drum machines and a mechanical timbre. They Hate Change take to Dinger’s loose vocals with gusto on their cover of “After Eight,” from NEU! 75, yelping and growling in a fashion the wild drummer and occasional singer might’ve appreciated.

A a collection of remixes and covers, NEU! Tribute operates in a different way than many traditional tribute collections, which allows for interesting side detours.Of special interest is DFA combo Guerilla Toss’ “Zum Herz,” an original song that draws on NEU!’s core concepts—motorik drums, cresting electric guitars, and endless propulsion—while engaging in overt and ecstatic pop melodies, generating a compression chamber of fuzzed-out synth. 50 years on, NEU! continues to define the standards of artistic fearlessness. | a liversidge

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