After Neu! 2, Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger went their separate ways, with Rother going on to collaborate with Cluster and forming Harmonia with them. Neu! reconvened to make Neu! 75, half a lament for what might have been for the band, and half an attempt to go out with all guns blazing.
The first half of Neu! 75 plays like sad, nostalgic cinema. “Isi” packs as much melody into its five minutes as almost all of the previous two Neu! albums. It’s a fond look back in time. “Seeland,” all dry cymbal crashes and lonely fuzztone guitars playing into a void, is where the nostalgia turns to pain. The meditative “Leb’ Wohl” (meaning “bye bye”) follows, lulling you to some place near sleep. For a few minutes, Neu! 75 doesn’t seem to be too far out of step with the modern taste for chillout CDs programmed for comfort, until “Hero” rears its punky head. In a way, it’s a necessary antidote to the sadness that threatens to envelop the album.
“E-Musik” sees Neu!‘s pop art sense of irony at work again, the title being a German abbreviation for “serious music.” Amid the sound effects that close the track are excerpts of “Seeland” and “Leb’ Wohl,” the melancholy of the first half of the album lurking below. “After Eight” closes the album on an ambiguous note — the preceding collage doesn’t set the scene for the song, and the punkish backing track sits oddly with the vulnerable lyrics (“Help me through the night”). If it was intended as some triumphant send-off, it misses the mark.
Like both the albums that preceded it, Neu! 75 offers what are at times, frustrating glimpses of possibilities. In its switch from sulky to punky is a suggestion of some unwillingness to admit defeat, but the album is never better than in its sadder moments.
Written by Damian McVeigh.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.