2008-04-03

Ende/NEU! In Memoriam Klaus Dinger

German electronic-music pioneer Klaus Dinger has died of heart failure a few days before his 62nd birthday on March 21.

Klaus Dinger was an original member of Kraftwerk together with Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider and Michael Rother. He played drums on their first LP in 1971 but soon left to form Neu! with Michael Rother.

In Germany Neu! were always standing in the shadow of Kraftwerk, who perfected their polished robotic music with a clean, futuristic pop glimmer and a distinct teutonic image.

Neu! and their angular, metronomic rhythmic excursions which were often full of dub-like sound experiments were mostly regarded as drug music by the mainstream German media.

At the time, long-haired artists who came up with radical new sounds and ideas, breaking away from any convention were scaring the shit out of the post-war generation who eventually saw them as the same radicals that would soon terrorize the country by throwing bombs and killing industrialists.

A curious international audience marvelled at the sudden emergence of these children of the war survivors. What were they up to now? Was this the new sound of German efficiency? Or was it the bored protest of bohemian kids who were still born in ruined cities but who were now cutting the cord to the past, while profiteering from the Wirtschaftswunder-years? And why was their music so groovy and detached?

Understandably the musicians were not too happy with the Krautrock-label that was bestowed on them. They preferred to call their music "Kosmische Musik", or they were simply filed under Jazz and Rock.

After three albums Neu! split in 1975. Michael Rother decided to start a solo career in which he explored a more ambient sound.

Klaus Dinger went on to form La Düsseldorf, who were active until 1981. With "Rheinita" they even scored a varitable hit.

The euphoric, driving rhythm of Dingers drums and the electronic touches fit in quite well with Disco and New Wave. During this time the huge influence Neu! must have had on the new british music scene became obvious: John Foxx, Ultravox, OMD (who named a song "4 Neu!" as a hommage), Human League, they all cited Neu! as an inspiration.

Some of them would go on and hire Neu! producer Conny Planck to record in his legendary Conny Planck Studios.
The studio, which I was happy to have seen from the inside several times, was located in a transformed pigsty and cinema in a small village outside of Cologne, is one of those legends of the 70s and early 80s. If you were a big name band during this time you would record there or at Compass Point on the Bahamas. Go figure!

In 1985 Dinger and Rother reunited for a fourth Neu! album, which was released a decade later in 1995. Until today there is a quarrel about copy- and publishing rights which made re-issues a complicated affair.

"Isi" from their "Neu! 75" album is one of my favourites. It´s almost computerized rhythm, underlined with the simple piano motive and the subtle, celestial voices creates a wonderful, euphoric mood.
Avoiding the kitsch-trap by this much, it is a soundtrack for something that accelerates endlessly, going further and further and higher and higher...

1 comment:

Seamus said...

Thanks for the tips over at Jockohomo's place. Great blog you have here.

Sorry to hear about Klaus. I've always loved Neu! and Kraftwerk.
RIP Klaus.

Peace