This is another one of those albums that i have
been hearing quite a lot about. So i tracked down a copy and
plopped it into the CD player. On first listen, i guessed that
The Notwist were a pleasant Indie pop band from one of those
corn states in the middle of our country. The vocalist sings
with a slightly disaffected and bored twinge in his voice, and
that voice is slightly nasally. Very midwestern, or so it seems.....
Imagine my surprise when i go do research for this review and
learn that the singer's name is Markus Acher and he is from
Munich. And i'm not talking Munich,
North Dakota either, i mean München, Deutschland. Oh,
and The Notwist originally formed as a hardcore band in the
late 80's, yet now they make very pleasant indie pop that combines
rock, alt.country, and IDM into a fascinating fusion.
But seriously -- this is a fascinating album. The Notwist are
a four piece, and German as i have just mentioned. All four
members are quite competent at what they do, which includes
the standard rock 4-piece of drums, bass, guitar, and voice,
along with banjo, keyboards, and laptops. They blend these differing
sounds in a way which i honestly find fresh and interesting.
And they have a real knack for writing catchy melodies! That'll
take them far in my book.
This album has laptop sounds, and even if you hate that stuff
i still think you'll find something to like here. And if you
are an IDM fan and find the notion of using real instruments
to be willfully anacronistic, then there is still stuff here
for you. And if you are one of the vast majority of people that
don't like harsh and/or noisy music, then The Notwist have you
It's something for everyone.
There are 10 songs here, and 4 of them (at least) stand out
as wonderful. To begin with, One Step Inside Doesn't Mean
You'll Understand kicks the album off with a bit of laptopy
beats combined with real drums and keyboards. It's a very nice
and catchy tune, and the combination of organic instruments
with digital sounds sort of set the stage for the rest of the
In the middle of the album, however, is a two song set that
stuns me. First you have One With the Freaks, which starts
off as an amusing little IDM track with glitches and pops, and
then, halfway through, the guitar kicks in with power chords
and the drummer starts beating away at his kit. And suddenly,
just when you least expect it, The Notwist ROCK OUT. However,
there are still other little laptopy things going on in the
background behind the rock. There are so many layers to this
song that i am just amazed.
And as One With The Freaks fades out, Neon Golden
starts up, with sparse banjo and droning steel guitar. This
song sounds southern in the same way that Songs:Ohia
do -- it captures a melancholy and rural mood. This pseudo-country
meanders along for about 4 minues accompanied by brushed drumming
and Acher's sad voice. At the end, however it disintigrates
into an electronically mangled jam. I really like this juxtaposition.
And finally, the album ends with Consequence, which
is a lovely indie pop song with faint electronic undertones,
groovey druming, and melodic guitars. But Acher is the one who
shines here, singing the line "you're not in this movie, you're
not in this song". It's a great tune, with wonderful melodies
and intelligent lyrics.
Really, there is nothing not to like on this album. It's all
well-played and well conceptualized, and it bends musical genres
to suit the bands' will, rather than them being constrained
Neon Golden was officially released last year
in Germany by City Slang, however, The
Notwist's website indicates that it has been picked up by
Domino USA for a domestic release at the end of February. And
look for them to tour The States this year as well.