Not the Pazz and Jop 1972 – #20

Neu! – Neu!

And so we end 1972 with more Krautrock. I knew early on there would be many surprises along the way – my sixth piece was about a band I’d never heard of before, after all – but did not expect things to be so international this quickly. Fantastic music was coming out of Brazil and Germany, and I don’t know if it was recognized as such in its time, but I feel fortunate that it found its place in the canon before I got around to discovering it in 2021.

This is primarily an instrumental record, with the only singing – and it is very, very generous to call it that – found on the last track. Some of this is just noise, and nothing that anyone but the most generous listeners would call a song. Highly experimental, with industrial and nature sounds, mumbled dialogue, odd tempo shifts, and droning backgrounds. In the end, this is all just a bit too weird for me in parts, but there are some tunes that I will happily revisit.

“Hallogallo”, easily my favourite track, first made me think of early New Order (but maybe it’s more Joy Division), then that Christmas song that Fallon, Sanz, Kattan and Morgan did on “Saturday Night Live”. The title is a play on a German slang term for “wild partying”, and it’s the one track here that is truly uptempo, with an incessant motorik drumbeat that gets under your skin and starts your feet tapping and hips swaying.

Highlight #2 is “Negativland”, with more motorik and a propulsive bass line over a screeching squall. The tempo speeds up a few times, then drops back to the more at-ease pace, before an all-out dash to the end over the last minute and a half or so.

“Weissensee” (or “White Lake”) is a hypnotic soundscape with gentle drums and smooth guitar licks, with an abiding sense of melancholy. “Im Gluck” (“Lucky”) is similarly mellow, and has what my Maritimer ears could not miss as the sounds of water lapping against a dock (soon confirmed when seagulls or some similar water fowl turned up). It’s incredibly comforting, and a nice way to end my travels through 1972’s best music.