The Notwist, (new EP)......DIGI, Skeek - U2 Feedback

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Old 01-27-2004, 09:37 AM   #1
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The Notwist, (new EP)......DIGI, Skeek

http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/record...d-trains.shtml

It's been over two years now since the original release of The Notwist's landmark Neon Golden, an album whose idiosyncratic blend of hypnotic acoustic texturing, skittering lap-pop glitches and fractured English translated to the most widespread success, critically or commercially, this Weilheim, Germany-based collective had ever seen. It only makes sense that they'd finally be ready to release a new EP at the start of 2004, if for no other reason than to keep themselves fresh in the public hivemind. After all, their audience is surely growing restless by now-- surely, Different Cars and Trains would tide them over until the next LP.

Well, it would-- assuming it had the decency to offer new songs, which it doesn't. Rather, Different Cars and Trains-- as hinted at by the title, pulled from the lyrics of Neon Golden's "Pilot"-- is a too-convenient stateside gathering of scattered remixes (and one B-side) lazily culled from the band's import-only singles (Pick Up the Phone, Pilot and Trashing Days), which have been available on P2P networks since shortly after Neon Golden's release. This, in itself, is fair, since not all of us are file-trading degenerates, and even fewer of us have access to (or can afford) costly imports; the real problem lies in that none of these tracks recapture the affecting solitude that haunted Neon Golden's best moments, and instead offer cold plates of commonplace, textbook IDM.

The EP starts with two surprising remixes from Console, the primary alias of The Notwist's programming guru Martin Gretschmann. I say "surprising" because it seemed obvious enough to me that few people would be interested in hearing a proto-house remix version of Neon Golden's bluesy, banjo-laced title track. Gretschmann, apparently, felt otherwise, and situated the song's lonesome Wurlitzer chords and confessional banjo motif atop a jarring dance pulse; hearing frontman Markus Acher pleading "don't leave me here" over this incessant disco thump decimates the song's humanity. Console's "Pilot" remix (one of two reworkings of the song included) fares only slightly better. The same throbbing pulse is again employed, but is greeted here by obligatory reversed vocal snippets and languid rhythmic flourishes that only succeed in overwhelming the tasteful minimalism of the original version.

The Console remixes are followed by the sole new submission on Different Cars and Trains, the instrumental "Red Room". Organic flute loops serve as an introduction, followed by percussion lines that roll by on the usual hi-hat cymbals and clicks, while standard electronic pings are added to the mix. Acher's coolly detached vocal melodies and uniquely identifiable guitar work are both sorely missed here, particularly given that they're such a defining element of the group's most recent sound.

Fortunately, Different Cars and Trains' two closing tracks swiftly rescue the disc from total insignificance. Four Tet's Kieran Hebden and Manitoba's Dan Snaith offer a first-time, dream-team collaboration in their remix of "This Room". Over a driving funk break, the duo cooks up an ode to all things reversed: tunnels of backwards vocals, slide guitars, percussion and god knows what else swarm past in blurs, while washes of the original version's Rhodes keyboards constitute the pastoral chill evident in both artists' solo work. Interestingly, you can really hear who's responsible for what here, as the programmed jazz breaks echo those of Four Tet's Rounds and the dense wave of glassy chimes and looped vocals and instrumentation sound ripped from the same hard drive that produced Up in Flames. The closing remix of "Pilot", retitled "Different Cars and Trains", is also worth putting down money for. A contribution from Loopspool, a member of the Notwist-affiliated jazz project Tied & Tickled Trio, the rendition cleverly transforms the thirty-second dub-break of the Notwist original into a blissful five-minute space-out of hazy atmospherics and pungent basslines.

These two closing tracks offer a glimpse at what might have been, had the band thought to outsource their remixes to artists (like, say, ones that aren't in the band) who might have had fresher and more varied takes on the Notwist sound. Instead, Different Cars and Trains stands as a disappointing, and rather uneventful, diehards-only affair-- a cheap tease to keep you on the edge of your seat in dutiful anticipation of whatever Germany's experimental pop heroes decide to do next.
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Old 01-27-2004, 05:48 PM   #2
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I read about this the other day, but I realize that I had all the songs on it already.. downloaded the regular single version though. Still very cool. Can't wait to hear some new stuff.

Which reminds me.. they're touring and I'm seeing them in about 10 days!!!
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Old 01-28-2004, 09:17 AM   #3
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very nice, do you happen to have thier tour schedule?
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Old 01-28-2004, 03:18 PM   #4
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Yup! Should've posted it before... according to the fork:

02-03 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
02-04 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
02-05 Cambridge, MA - Middle East
02-06 Montreal, Quebec - Caberet Du Plateau
02-07 Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace
02-12 Vancouver, British Columbia - Richards On Richards
02-13 Seattle, WA - Chop Suey
02-14 Portland, OR - Dante's
02-16 San Francisco, CA - Slim's
02-17 Los Angeles, CA - El Rey
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