After a break of more than ten years, Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother entered the studio again in October 1985 to record a new album. Between times a lot had changed. The krautrock movement was at its peak in the early seventies. Back then it was underground music, but in the mid-eighties it was completely ignored and forgotten. The bands and artists that were still around like Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Amon Düül II had changed their musical style dramatically. A new generation of German bands like Einstürzende Neubauten, Die Krupps, Palais Schaumburg and Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft (D.A.F) had taken over, and this Neue Deutsche Welle - the new German wave - was more successful than its obscure predecessors. So the world - and Germany in particular - wasn't really waiting for a new album from Neu!
The clash between Dinger's and Rother's different characters is what made Neu! so interesting, but at the same time made it different for them to collaborate. Often producer Conny Plank had to mediate, but eventually it led to the break-ups in 1972 and 1975. In April 1986 the band didn't have a record company that was interested in bringing out the new material. Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother decided to give it a break and recommence the album later on, but this never happened. In 1987 Conny Plank passed away - although Plank hadn't been involved in the recordings of 1986. Klaus Dinger moved to Japan and in 1995 he released part of these recordings as Neu 4 on the Japanese Captain Trip-label. Rother was not amused about it and since they couldn't get to an agreement, Neu 4 had to be withdrawn.
In the late nineties a new generation started to (re)discover krautrock. In 1998 a Neu! tribute album was released with cover versions by, amongst others, The Legendary Pink Dots, System 7 and Download. Musician and actor Herbert Grönemeier, known from Das Boot and founder of Grönland-records, managed to strike a deal with Dinger and Rother, and in 2003 he re-released the first albums Neu! (1971), Neu! 2 (1972) and Neu! 75 (1975). Suddenly these albums, that became rare, were wide-spread again and also for the first time became officially available on CD. Neu! became well-known and even hot! Many bands claimed that they had been influenced by Neu!.
Finally in 2010, more than two years after Klaus Dinger had passed away, the 1985/86 recordings are now officially released as Neu! 86. They have been remastered by Michael Rother and have been released with the full permission of Dinger's widow. The artwork is in the same typical style as the previous albums with the word Neu! printed big, this time in yellow and pink. At first, the album was part of a special box set, but it's also available as a separate album, both on CD and coloured vinyl. Back in the early seventies Rother and Dinger still used primitive equipment such as tape recorders and early synthesizers. By 1986 they had much more sophisticated equipment and Rother even used the Fairlight music computer. The Fairlight was one of the first digital samplers. It was the state of the art instrument throughout the eighties, though better instruments not necessarily create better music.
The song La Bomba is a remake of Richie Valens La Bamba, but it sounds more like a Pet Shop Boys remake. Also Danzig seems to be an attempt to sound like D.A.F. The rest of the album is more like Neu! with Klaus Dinger's typical style of drumming and Rother's recognizable guitar playing. They used more synthesizers and samples and some drum machines as well. However, the album completely lacks the melancholy that made Neu!'75 such a classic album. Some of the pieces sound like unfinished ideas. Neu! 86 isn't a forgotten masterpiece or a long hidden treasure, but it's a good thing that the album is finally available for a normal price. It's part of the Neu! legacy.
*** Erik Gibbels (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013