The short review: Michael Rother, Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley and Aaron Mullan from Tall Firs and Glass Rock come on, play pounding, metronomic motorik music for around 70-odd minutes and then leave. You either like this or not. Personally, it’s great.

The longer, more considered review: Looking around before the band come on it’s clear just what a mixed bag of an audience the music of Neu! attracts. Along with the half-expected beardy engineering students there are quite a few women too and one rather dazed and confused looking man in a suit and tie who is wandering up and down doing a bit of air-drumming along to Can’s ‘Mushroom’ which is playing over the PA.

Visually, there’s nothing much too it, a basic set-up of lights illuminate a black stage and the trio for the most part just stay stock still. But the trio don’t really need flashy visual effects to hold your attention. And throughout the set songs like ‘Hallogallo’, ‘Deluxe’ and on to the encore ‘Negativland’ the motorik propulsion is relentless. Shelley is upfront pounding out the repetitive rhythm, Rother lets rip with computer FX and feedback while Mullan keeps up a steady pace but is rather lost in the mix (but more of that later). And so it goes on with that für immer aesthetic. The band lock into a repetitive groove and carry it on, setting down the blueprint for many a band like Stereolab, the Fall and many a drone rock proponent to follow.

And the relentless drive that formed the backbone of Neu! and Harmonia is very much to the fore. The drums are very much centre stage, losing some of the subtlety of the originals. At times this can trample over just about everything else and the bass is largely lost in the mix but the sheer force moves everything along. Rother has gone for a heavy sound, jettisoning any subtlety. Still it works though and this style is highlighted most on ‘Negitivland’ with its jackhammer rhythm. Harmonia’s ‘Deluxe’ though loses something in translation, the delicate melody is subsumed and while still present, rather lost.

Still, you can’t help be swept along by it all. That teutonic motorik drive will get you in the end.











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Commenting On: Barbican, London, 27/10/2010 - Hallogallo








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