The Notwist Neon Golden

[City Slang; 2002]

Styles: electronica, indie rock, metal
Others: Autechre, Shantel, Oval, Sonic Youth

I feel the same way about Neon Golden as I do Mac computers. When flicking
through random magazines and reading features on them, I am always impressed by
their sleek new designs, not to mention their increasingly enviable user
friendliness and overall quality. Whether you are a Mac hater or lover, Neon
Golden
is still a valuable asset to anyone's collection, and perhaps one of the
better releases of this year.

Martin Gretschmann's marked influence on the band as official electronica whiz
has seen them move in appeal from their early metal crowd to a bunch of long
haired introspective indie kids with the weighty grandeur of Shrink. The
hypnotic, pulsating rhythms that ebb and flow throughout its entirety may
account for this following. Or, perhaps it could be the attraction of the Acher
brothers' complex dark pop. Many a time I've remarked that metal bands come out
with the odd melodic track that surpasses any of their other material. For
example, Black Sabbath and "Changes," which is truly awe inspiring and
thankfully it appears that The Notwist have decided to stay on that high.

"Pick up the Phone" is the first single off the album. It's like a signpost for
everything else to come. Hazy wind instruments are the perfect backdrop to a
veritable electronic feast of throbbing beats and rhythmic ticking. Markus
Archer's voice descends on it, honey drenched with heart rending sweetness. It
feels like a saccharine, yet unfamiliar Japanese flower, lush in colour and
texture with an almost mind numbing effect. "This Room" outshines the other tracks in pop excellence. A floaty and spacious
exercise in deft keyboard tinkering complemented by pounding drums (courtesy of
Martin Messerschimid). Rain-like riffs not unlike those of Tortoise are
sprinkled lightly in a mesmerizing amalgamation of instruments. "Trashing Days" is possibly the most exciting piece of music I have heard in
some time. Light saxophone drifts over soulful chorus lines and soothing loops
of crackles, much like the old record player in Grandpa's shed. Tapping sticks
and unobtrusive percussion make for a somber yet intensely beautiful experience.

Admittedly the almost facile subject matter may not be as impressive, but
somehow it gets lost in the beauty and expertness of production and playing.
It's more of a melancholy listening album than a sing-along "Happy Days" one.
For the ten years that The Notwist have been together, their adventures in
minimalist music have come to fruition. It's a journey one should feel
privileged taking, heightened in the form of Neon Golden. It will make you cry,
make you feel introspective, or just make you want to play the banjo.

1. One Step Inside Doesn't Mean You Don't Understand
2. Pilot
3. Pick Up the Phone
4. Thrashing Days
5. This Room
6. Solitaire
7. One with the Freaks
8. Neon Golden
9. Off the Rail
10. Consequence.

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