A first impression is probably the most important thing as far as a band goes. If you see a band live and they suck, most likely your not going to go out and buy the bands record. But not all first impressions are bad. For example; on the first track of the first song of German indie band The Notwist’s landmark record, Neon Golden you might notice the melodies. Big deal, every album has melodies. Anyone with fingers can pick a simple melody onto their guitar or piano. Any one with a voice box can hum a note. But not like some people can. Not like The Notwist can. Rumbling bass, mellow-dramatic vocals and abstract guitar riffs are sewn together like they were today’s item at an Asian sweat shop. Paired with bold effects and fast paced danceable beats like they were never meant to be spilt up. The Notwist’s music is resemblant of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s crunchy, soft and sweet and if you had the ingredients plain it just wouldn’t be the same. Taking noticeable influences from band’s like Radiohead and Grandaddy isn’t a bad thing either. And to think they used to be a metal band…
Most people know that first impressions aren’t always right. This was only the first note after all. Who knows, maybe the rest of the album will turn out bad. Wrong.
The album’s 6th track, Solitaire begins with a strangely familiar orchestration, but something’s different, the soul of the song is absent. When the ghostly strings are paired with a spastic beat that comes in a few seconds later you know something’s special about this track. Back in olden times if a track didn’t have soul it didn’t get any appreciation, but bands like electro pioneers Kraftwerk and alt rock gods Radiohead built careers on breaking this thought. Well, The Notwist smashes it. They smash it into a million pieces. Tracks like album opener One Step Inside Doesn’t You’ll Understand build upon the unmelodic vocals of lead singer, Markus Acher over top layers of ambience and textured strings. The track keeps it’s depth with out losing the minimalism that makes it so striking. If you listen closely it’s almost like being in a different world. Every time I put in the record I find a new sound on it (specifically on One Step) that astounds me. Bongos, Mandolins and Delay effects get heavy use on certain tracks.
Heavier tracks like ‘One With the Freaks’ show off the Notwist’s impeccable guitar and bass tone, while ditching many of the effects that made their first songs so special. It’s hardly anything to complain about as the song is still one of the most enjoyable to listen to, but tracks like ‘Consequence’ are where it’s really at. For a song with so much pop appeal, ‘Consequence’ manages to keep a very electro/indie feel. Melodies that would make any pop punk band jealous, lyrics that would make the coolest bohemian cry and a sense of creative genius that rivals Thom Yorke on his greatest day.
You're the colour;
you're the movement and the spin. (Never)
Could it stay with me the whole day long?
Fail with consequence, lose with eloquence
I'm not in this movie
I'm not in this song.
Leave me paralyzed, love.
Leave me hypnotized, love.
The song is five minutes of pure pleasure. The kind that you can’t get from money, friends or religion. The kind you get from a thorough look inside yourself. One of my personal picks for ballad of the millennium.
For most people, an album that ends with three vaguely similar electronic instrumentals will not garner enough emotion to give a five. But for some reason I can’t picture giving this album any less. Pop music through the eyes of a couple of creative geniuses is probably the best way to describe the album, though it dabbles into a little bit of everything. Sounds ranging from Irish and Indian folk to heavy electronica and punk. Hearing records filled with raw emotion as well as raw music is a thing to witness, but when the album is as raw as the asphalt but as smooth as marble, like this one, it will really stick with you. It follows Radiohead’s formula as much as Beethoven’s. Conjuring images of fields of grassy green fields as well as cold lifeless places, the kind that make you long for the sun. It follows Radiohead’s unspoken promise “Sometimes the songs with the least emotion are the most heartbreaking". You can listen to your faux-emo love songs, but I choose The Notwist.
Great guitar and bass tones
Not much else