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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Neu! (ger. for "New!") was a German band, probably the archetypal example of what the UK music press at the time dubbed Krautrock. The band had minimal commercial success when active, but are credited with being a huge influence on a diverse group of artists, including PiL, Joy Division, David Bowie, Stereolab, Gary Numan, Ultravox, Simple Minds as well as the current electronic music scene.

Note: the band always wrote their name NEU! in block capitals and with an exclamation mark, intending it as a pop-art slogan. Typographic conventions have meant this spelling is not used in this article.



Core members


Musical style

Probably the most cherished element of the Neu! oeuvre is what is often called the "Motorik" beat (a portmanteau combining the German words 'Motor' and 'Musik') - although the band themselves do not use this term, Dinger himself sometimes referred to it as the "Apache beat". At least one third of their recorded output is in the Motorik form. Here they deconstruct the traditional rock song format, with its verses and choruses, intros and changes, stripping it down to a single minimalist 4/4 beat, which drummer Dinger repeats continuously throughout the entire track. Although on paper this might seem a recipe for monotony, in fact Dinger's discipline and flair as a drummer generates a very powerful, focussed groove, with a great sense of continuous forward motion (the analogy is often made with motorway driving).

In terms of traditional western and rock music harmonic form, Rother would complement Dinger's rhythm by eschewing chord changes, and instead opting for a harmonic drone – a single chord, layering numerous electric guitar overdubs. Timbral change takes over from harmonic change as the main focus of interest. Conny Plank was renowned as a producer for creating a working environment where musicians could be free to explore such experiments, and also as a master of timbral texture and spatialisation. Many other Neu! tracks are very slow and gentle, sketching out traces of a song in what might be called an 'ambient' style.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Neu!" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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