[midlife 150] #127: the notwist “pick up the phone”

May 23, 2010

Album cover for Neon Golden by The Notwist

#127 Pick Up The Phone by The Notwist, taken from Neon Golden, 2002 [buy from City Slang]

Germany has a rich heritage in musicians that expertly – organically even – blend digital and analogue, synthesised and real, traditionell and neu(!). At least one strain of Krautrock was founded on the possibilities this alchemy creates.

It took three or four albums for The Notwist to shake off their indie/punk/metal roots and make their own distinctive contribution to elektronische musik. Their 1998 release Shrink hinted at the band’s gift for mixing emotive melody with intelligent electronic and rock instrumentation. But it was their next album, Neon Golden, that perfected their evolving glitch-pop sound (captured on film in the excellent documentary On/Off The Record).

Pick Up The Phone is one of a number of songs on the album that could have made this list – Pilot, One With The Freaks, Off The Rails, Consequence, Neon Golden or One Step Inside could have filled the position just as well. It pips them to the post because it perhaps best showcases the existential pathos (a pleasing oxymoron) the group can evoke.

Between them the members of The Notwist have become an German experimental music movement in themselves, forming and collaborating on a number of side projects, all of which are worth exploring. The Acher brothers, Markus and Micha, compose and perform as the lynchpin of jazz/dub/experimental outfit Tied & Tickled Trio and formed an avant hip hop group called 13 & God with Californian rapper Doseone. Markus is also a member of Lali Puna, while Micha writes for Ms. John Soda. Third key member Martin Gretschmann (composer of Pick Up The Phone) is responsible for a small body of superlative ambient techno work under his alter ego Console.

This review is part of close to 94 ‘s [midlife 150] series, which counts down favourite music 1970-2009.

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