Friday, June 11, 2021

The A to Z of the Eighties - A Definitive Guide to the Decade (SR contributions only) - Melody Maker, December 23-30, 1989

This was great fun to do but arduous - as a staff writer, you had to do your Herculean bit for these big package features -  there's about 40 or so micro-essays from me here, super-distilled little takes on phenomena, figures, fads of the '80s - some of my favoritest scenes and sounds, and some of my least favoritest scenes and sounds. 

I'm not sure if any research as such was done - where could you go to do it in those days? There was no internet, there might have been some old magazines lying round the house, but no reference works on the '80s as such. So it mostly was all pulled from my memory, sharper then, and dealing with quite recent stuff - but still,  no doubt some errors crept in there on the factual front.  

Talking of errors - as they're non-bylined, and this is over thirty years ago, I'm like 97% certain these are all by me, but apologies if I've accidentally trawled in something by Stubbsy or the Studs. 

Of course other writers got to do things I would have liked to cover, so it's not a total Zeitgeist-scan according to Moi, but .... not that far off, actually.  

It's how I saw things precisely then - the winter of '89 - and  not always necessarily how I see them today, or indeed how I saw them within a year or two of writing.


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

all praise Vibert

or rather, all of my praise (pretty much) 


Tally Ho!


Spin 1998

In America, Luke Vibert is best known for the topsy-turvy tomfoolery of his hyperkinetic drum'n'bass alter ego Plug. But back in '95, operating as Wagon Christ, he createdThrobbing Pouch, an album that easily rivals DJ Shadow's Endtroducing  as a masterpiece of emotive, downtempo sampladelia. Tracks  such as "Scrapes" and "Phase Everyday" were labyrinthine mood-mosaics, enchanted audiomazes whose honeycomb chambers and chinese-whispery corridors teemed with scrofulous detail.

If Tally Ho! isn't quite the equal of Pouch  (on the right day, my favorite electronic long-player of the '90s), its first half displays Vibert's abilities in full, earboggling effect: his voluptuously textured

and intricately multi-tiered beats, his alchemist's flair for morphing cheesy sample-sources into bittersweet gold.  "Fly Swat" weaves  what was once probably sub-Mantovani hackwork--piano trills and easy-listening strings-- into a tremulous tapestry of fleeting poignancy. On "Crazy Disco Party,"  reverbed breakbeats sound simultaneously crisp and hazy, and snatches of vocal are fed through the digital mangler until they resemble a virtuoso performance on some yet-to-be-invented stringed instrument of the 23rd Century, or the burbling babytalk babble of a creche on an alien planet.  As the title suggests, the net effect is like the final few headspinning minutes before passing out on the dancefloor under a disco glitterball.

It's the next three tracks, though, that really show off Vibert's unusual-in-electronica talent for tugging on the heartstrings.  With its swoony cascades of tingly keyboard notes and shimmervescent production, "Tally Ho!" sounds like Prefab Sprout gone drum'n'bass, then the track goes absolutely bonkers with a wheezing and sputtering jack-in-the-box bedlam of Hanna-Barbera jungle. "Memory Towel"'s perfumed fog of exotica manages to give that over-used sample--Malcolm McLaren's echo-chamber ululation at the start of "Buffalo Gals"--an alien gravitas, closer to muezzin prayer wail than doh-si-doh. And "Shimmering Haze" is a rhapsody in sky blue: a succulent squelch-synth motif, blossom-petal billows of flute, and a bassline as tender as the most forgiving dub reggae, mesh sublimely, instilling the kind of beatific calm that comes with counting your blessings.

Although the rest of Tally Ho!  contains plenty of tantalising textures, cunning beats and sonic sleights, it  sometimes crosses the thin line between  lightheaded and lighthearted, levitation and mere levity. Like his weirdy-beardy geektronica buddies Aphex Twin, Muziq, and Squarepusher, Vibert has a weakness for wackiness, exemplified here by sniggering song titles like "My Organ In Your Face" and the puerile porno ad skit "Juicy Luke Vibert". Occasionally, the quirked-out sonic antics suggest jazz jester Spike Jones retooled as one-man-and-his-machines rather than big band leader. But overall Tally Ho!  constitutes one of 1998's most potent arguments contra the tired notion that electronic music is intrinsically cold and emotionless. At his sentimental  and melodic best, Luke Vibert is simply one of the top song writers around, it's just that he's serenading us with beats and samples rather than his vocal chords.


Melody Maker, 1996 

     Cornwall born-and-bred and buddy of the Aphex Twin, Luke Vibert emerged in '95 as a major purveyor of barely classifiable, semi-danceable weird-shit.  After the glacial ambience of his Wagon Christ 1994 debut "Phat Lab Nightmare", Vibert veered off into cheesy-but-deranged trip hop with "Throbbing Pouch" and its attendant EP's "Rissalecki" and "Redone".  Better still are Vibert's mindboggling peculiar forays into drum & bass as Plug.  The two Plug EP's so far--"Visible Crater Funk" and "Rebuilt Kev"--take breakbeat-science and bass-mutation to levels of grotesque convolution rivalled only by artcore maestros like Droppin' Science. Warning: your limbs will get tied in knots if you're fool enough to dance. Needless to say, the reaction from the junglist community has been muted, to put it mildly.

    "One of my mates did try to play a Plug track in a club," says the well-spoken 22 year old Vibert. "He got into a huge row, this guy kept saying 'this ain't jungle'.  I think the guy was right, actually!"

     In Wagon Christ, Plug, and his numerous remixes, Vibert has an alchemist's approach to sampling. It's all about "getting good sounds out of absolute shit. I listen to piles of cheesy records. For some reason I tend to only sample stuff I don't like! One friend thought 'A Polished Solid', my EP on Mo Wax, was about that: me polishing up a turd!  Actually I got the title from a ripped up packet of Rizlas.  There was an offer for 'a polished solid brass lighter', but the only words left were 'a polished solid'."

     Wacky titles are one of the many charms of Vibert's output, from the saucy "Throbbing Pouch" to the daftly-monikered Plug EP's. "Visible Crater Funk", "Rebuilt Kev" and the forthcoming "Versatile Crib Funk"  are all anagrams of 'Luke Francis Vibert'.  "I'm running out of variations now," laments Luke. "There's some really rude ones, like Fuck Arse Brain, but nothing nice!"

     Vibert's ability to ooze his way through the barriers between genres is a prime example of the 'perimeter' theory of: an omni-genre where tekno, ambient, trip hop, jungle etc are all being jumbled up. Not being tied to a particular scene or community = freedom to drift.

     "All the people I know make music in their bedrooms, and it's more personal 'cos you're not thinking about clubs. When I go to a studio, at Rising High or Mo' Wax, I see people working with the specific intention to make people dance. But working in your bedroom, it's more like art."

     Out there on the perimeter, they're all stoned immaculate. Vibert once told an interviewer that drugs were his greatest influence: "they're my best mate, they changed the way I heard everything".

     "Actually, I said 'hash is my best mate'!", says Luke.  "That's not true anymore, but originally it did open my mind to different sorts of music. Cos I was a bit narrow-minded.  Smoking went hand in hand with getting into dub and funk".

     Dope is one reason Vibert's work is so disorientating.  Another is the queasy fluctuation of pitch he often employs, making the Wagon Christ stuff sound like a cross between Schoenberg and jazz-funk. Luke explains that there's a feature on his sampler that allows him to modulate pitch and explore fractions of a tone. This 'microtonality' is shared by lots of avant-garde composers and non-Western musics (e.g.  Indian ragas), which sound weird to our ears because they break with the clear pitch intervals that govern Western classical and pop alike.  Hip hop often has that dissonant quality too, because, Luke explains, "when you put samples together, they're usually not going to be in tune.  If you get them synched up time-wise, they're almost always off-key.  And that's a wicked effect--the samples sort of gnaw at each other!".


Visible Crater Funk


Rebuilt Kev

(both Rising High, import--no catalogue numbers!)

Alternative Press, 1996

    Nobody's s'posed to know, but Plug is Wagon Christ's Luke Vibert in junglistic mode. This pair of EP's confirms an emergent trend wherein the most daring drum & bass forays are being mounted by figures outside the jungle milieu, e.g. Boymerang (Bark Psychosis' Graham Sutton), Link (Reload/Global Communications), Mouse On Mars. "Visible Crater Funk" consists of the most grotesquely contorted and convoluted polyrhythms this side of art-core maestros Dillinja and Droppin' Science.  Over four untitled tracks, Plug 1's tumblin' breaks and w-w-w-wobbly bass make for a groove-science so topsy-turvy and torsion-inducing that your limbs will be tied in knots if you're fool enough to dance.

On Plug 2, "Military Jazz", "Pitch Bender" and "Cheesy" are tinged with the mellow fusion-flava of Wagon Christ's "Throbbing Pouch", but the breaks and B-lines skid and tremble underfoot as treacherously as the fiercest ragga-jungle.  Luke Vibert: jack of all trades, master of.... every last one of 'em!


Village Voice, 1999 i think

Acolytes acronym it IDM, short for Intelligent Dance Music---a contentious term for electronica that refuses the dancefloor's frenzy in favor of stay-at-home contemplation. Weird, then, to see the IDM massive at the Bowery Ballroom collectively shaking booty to their dream-team double bill of Mike 'μ-Ziq' Paradinas and Luke 'Wagon Christ/Plug' Vibert.

It's a so-where-now? kind of moment for IDM's first wave. With Mike and Luke's mutual friends Richard James and Squarepusher missing in action, the genre's sole contender for "that next shit" is "glitch"--snap-crackle-popping noisescapes assembled from digital distortion. Taking the scene's anti-pop impulse to its logical extension, glitch dispenses not just with the groove but with melody too. And melody--chipper, wistful, glum--has always been IDM's saving grace, what seduced the Smog and GBV fans.  Luke Vibert doesn't seem too worried about IDM's impasse, though. Trading shy smiles with his new jam buddy B. J. Cole, toking on a long spliff and sporting a beard resinous enough to keep Cypress Hill happy for a weekend, Luke looks quite the mellow muso. Stop The Panic, the first fruit of their partnership, initially feels a bit diffuse, but rapidly reveals itself to be "different and holding" (copyright: NYT's movies-on-TV reviewer), achieving a mood of sacred whimsy not far behind Wagon Christ's sublime Throbbing Pouch. Live, it's even more enchanting. Alternately recalling KingSunny Ade and an Hawaian Jerry Garcia, Cole's plays his steel guitar like he's embroidering with light, deftly weaving its lustrous filigree through Vibert's it's-as-if-ambient-jungle-never-died breakbeats.  

Like IDM itself, Mike Paradinas's gift and curse is melody. Unlike laidback Luke, though, he's reacted violently against the prettiness of his own back catalogue. Tonight there's a few excursions into densely orchestrated synth-symphonics, but mostly Mr. μ-Ziq rampages thrillingly across the spectrum of hardcore barbarianism: acrid Ram Trilogy-style drum'n'bass, mash-ups of 1992-style rave and turntablism (slightly disconcerting to hear with no decks onstage), even 250 bpm gabber blitzkriegs. The crowd goes apeshit, goaded by Paradinas's exhortations "tear up tha club, thugz!". If it's a suspiciously well-made insanity, a marauding monster of sound without a hair or hi-hat out of place, well, you can hardly expect a doyen of IDM to fully jettison his head.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Invisible Postpunkbox / six Ripituprelated tunes

Wilson Neate, author of  Read & Burn: A Book About Wire, interviewed me an aeon ago for Perfect Sound Forever about Rip It Up and Start Again - during which he also did an Invisible Jukebox style test of me using five postpunk records. He recently reblogged the quiz, which originally appeared in Pop Culture Press magazine in 2006

“Careering” – PiL (Metal Box, 1979)

This is one of two songs on what’s perhaps the best side of postpunk ever, although this is lost today because it’s on CD and not in its original format of three 45 rpm 12-inch records. In the US it was released as Second Edition. “Careering” is the second of two songs on the third side – side one of the second record. The first track is “Poptones,” an amazing trance-like, almost psychedelic song, with a looping, gyrating guitar riff and this incredible Jah Wobble bassline. Rotten is singing from the point of view of being abducted and you can’t work out if he’s been murdered or not, or if he’s just lying in the woods, cowering in the foliage, with all his body heat going. And the next track is “Careering,” which has no guitar in it; instead, Keith Levene uses a synthesizer in a really abstract way and the sounds swoop over your head. The song is obliquely about Northern Ireland, at a time when the conflict must have been at its worst and there were people on hunger strike. Lydon talks about people going over the border, bringing weapons and bombs. It’s very oblique but it’s definitely about civil strife in Northern Ireland. It’s Public Image at the peak of their inventiveness. Metal Box is PiL’s masterpiece and this is their best side; this two-song sequence is a real killer.

“Lions After Slumber” – Scritti Politti (Songs to Remember, 1982)

This was originally the B-side of “The Sweetest Girl,” which is when Scritti Politti reinvented themselves as a pop band. “The Sweetest Girl” is – as its title suggests – a very “sweet,” almost cloying pop-reggae song. It’s a beautiful love song, but the sort of love song that actually questions the idea of love songs and problematizes notions of love and possession. And then, on the other side, “Lions After Slumber” is a very strange track. It’s a list song – a list song through the lens of Green’s narcissism. It’s a list of things to do with him: “my languor,” “my greed,” “my elbow,” “my indecision,” “my sex,” “my white chocolate” and so on, all these states of mind, bodily dispositions, little moments, fragments of time, things he owns, his stance. It’s obviously very influenced by post-structuralism and the idea of the self not as a unitary entity, but as a plurality or as a multiplicity, and the idea of there being no essence to someone – just these moments and interactions with things or with people. Despite the fact that it’s about the fragmented self, coming through it all is this very strong, almost feline narcissism. The way Green sings it, you feel he’s like a cat basking in himself, arching his back, really in love with himself. It comes through in this sort of falsetto he sings in. So there’s an interesting tension there between the fragmented self and this absolute self-love conveyed by the vocals. It ties in with the band’s failing really: Scritti Politti ultimately wanted to be a pop group but none of their songs ever really got beyond Green’s psyche. I imagine people bought Scritti’s records and found meanings in them for themselves but it’s all so tied up with Green and his particular anguishes and doubts.

“Houses in Motion” – Talking Heads (Remain in Light, 1980)

This is an interesting song. It was a single in England but it wasn’t a hit. It followed “Once in a Lifetime,” which was a big hit in the UK but not in America. “Houses in Motion” was sequenced on Remain in Light to follow “Once in a Lifetime,” which is about someone who’s suddenly estranged from his routine, his life, his possessions, his family, his wife. He’s estranged from it and it all seems absurd, yet that realization hits him with this sort of a cosmic force. It’s almost like a blinding, mystical epiphany: the idea that you cruise through everything without connecting with reality. And then, immediately, it goes into “Houses in Motion,” which is back inside alienation. It’s based in the same musical ideas as “Once in a Lifetime” but whereas “Once in a Lifetime” is a kind of mystical, oceanic funk, “House in Motion” is a sort of eerie, neurotic funk. The protagonist in the song is back inside neurosis. The key line is: “He’s digging his own grave.” He’s trapped in routine, going round and round, just working for these goals and missing life. So it’s almost as if the two songs are sister songs. In the first one, the guy sees through everything and grasps the oneness of existence, in an almost mystical way. In the second song he’s like a prisoner. He’s blinkered. He’s working for ambition and goals, digging his own grave, going nowhere.

“Sketch for Summer” – The Durutti Column (The Return of the Durutti Column, 1980)

Durutti Column are interesting because, a lot of the time, people think of postpunk as this sort of angular, abrasive music but a lot of lovely, ethereal music was made during that period. I would think of Cocteau Twins as a postpunk group in some ways and Young Marble Giants, for instance, made very pretty, intricate, atmospheric, low-key music.And Durutti Column are a case in point. There’s this intricate, spider web filigree of guitar-playing that’s almost too exquisite at times. I almost feel it’s vulgar how exquisite it is – all these arpeggios. It’s very delicate. There’s nothing abrasive about it. It’s a dream music, a music of reverie, of drift, of fleeting prismatic perceptions. Vini Reilly was a very delicate figure. He was anorexic. He was almost wasting away and so there’s a sense in which you almost feel that the music is an expression of his body, of his fleeting, weak grip on the world. It’s almost as if he’s going to drift away, like his music.

“We Are All Prostitutes” – The Pop Group (Single, 1979)

The Pop Group started out as quite Romantic. They were into the Beat poets and their lyrics were very abstract and imagistic. They were political but in the sense of “impossible politics”: they were into the Situationists, whose famous slogan was “Be Reasonable: Demand the Impossible.” It was that very Romantic idea of politics. Everything was politics, mysticism, poetry; it was all indivisible. Somewhere along the line, though, they got more didactic, a lot more like protest singers, and “We Are All Prostitutes” is the turning point. It’s still a very exciting song today. The music is a burning punk-funk sound. The lyrics are guilt-wracked. It captures a certain aspect of postpunk: the idea that everything’s corrupt and we’re part of a system where everything we do is connected to something evil. The Pop Group agonized over the fact that they were signed to Radar, which was part of a bigger label owned by a conglomerate involved in arms-dealing. That tortured them and they left and formed their own indie label. So that was all part of it – the feeling of being unclean and wanting to be pure. “We Are All Prostitutes” was an almost hysterical rant about consumerism and capitalism as a barbaric religion. It imagines the future when our children will be ashamed of us, stone us, disown us and feel that we’re totally corrupt. It turned a lot of people off, fans who liked the early Romantic, Byronic stuff. The Pop Group were a bit like the Romantic poets, like Blake, Shelley and Byron who were also political. Shelley and Byron were involved in liberation struggles. Byron was involved in the attempt to free Greece from Turkish rule. The Pop Group were into all those guys. But they lost a bit of their Romanticism and became very guilt-haunted. They were flagellating themselves, so guilty and tortured by living in this corrupt Western society. People found that a very black-and-white view of the world, very blinkered and a big turn off. The album For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? was very lecturing. The lyrics were almost like pamphlets given out by some left-winger outside the Tube station. It was very guilt-tripping and they lost a lot of their support but “We Are All Prostitutes” is still a powerful piece of music. In some ways, it’s more focused than their early stuff because their early Romantic phase is quite chaotic musically. But as they got more militant, they actually got more focused and hard-hitting sonically. 


Here's a similar - written this time, not spoken - thing I did in 2006 for Largehearted Boy around Rip It Up, this time the number is six.... 

1/ Sex Pistols, “Bodies” (Never Mind the Bollocks, 1977)

Well, without punk, there’d be no postpunk, right? And it was the Sex Pistols (specifically this song and “Anarchy in the UK”) that first snagged me off whatever path I was on aged fourteen and into the world of taking-music-too-seriously. Mainly, because I’d never heard anything that sounded so deadly serious before. Not so much anti-abortion as a protest against life, “Bodies” is a song that reminds you that a big part of punk’s appeal was its pure wanton evil--destruction for destruction’s sake. Almost orchestral in its grandeur (those huge backing vocal chants), “Bodies” sounds appalling and glorious. In Rip It Up and Start Again, part of my rhetorical pitch is challenging punk’s inflated historical status and bigging up “the aftermath”. This involved criticizing punk rock as a backward step, a return to basic rock’n’roll. Which is true for much of it, but the best punk was actually the distillation of rock into something that hadn’t, actually, been heard before. You go back a few years before Buzzcocks and X-Ray Spex, and really there’s nothing that has that monolithic blam-blam-blam-blam feel, even the heaviest metal or hardest-pounding Stooges had more swing to it. Still, there was a sense in which, once punk had staged this reductionist process, it couldn’t be taken anywhere, it could only be repeated with diminishing returns. Hence postpunk’s drive to expand and experiment.

2/ Public Image Ltd, “Death Disco” (single, 1979)

A protest against death: John Lydon singing (although that word seems inaccurate and inadequate for the harrowing noise unleashed here) about watching the light go out in his mother eyes. As much as the sound of the single, which made the Top 20 in Britain, what was life-changing for many, me included, was the matter/anti-matter collision of “death” and “disco” in the title. Disco, subverted by content too heavy and dark for the brightly lit celebration of the dancefloor; “death” (rock’s seriousness, its grappling with “the human condition”) subverted by disco’s hedonism and levity. Ian Dury & The Blockheads--another of my favorites back then--did something similar, albeit in a more accessible and conventionally musical way: “My Old Man” (on New Boots and Panties) was a poignant reminiscence of Dury’s own dead dad over taut funk, while “Dance of the Screamers” (from Do It Yourself) turned disco into primal scream therapy for the interpersonally challenged.

3/ Talking Heads, “Seen and Not Seen” (Remain In Light, 1980)

I got PiL’s Metal Box for Christmas 1979, and Remain In Light for Xmas the following year. I remember spending Christmas morning lying on the carpet in our living room as close to the speakers as I could get, lost in its jungle of glittering texture-rhythm. “Seen and Not Seen,” the least groove-oriented track, is actually my favorite song on the record, though. Although I didn’t realize this at the time, it’s one that bears a really heavy Eno imprint in terms of its near-ambient atmosphere, the way the synths glint and waver like heat-haze rising over a sun-baked highway. It’s similar to the “4th World” music Eno was making around this time with Jon Hassell. I love the lyric--the story of a man who learns how to change his facial appearance by gradual exercise of will, only to realise that he’s made a terrible mistake halfway through the metamorphosis--and the hesitant cadences of Byrne’s spoken delivery. People typically have a fairly limited idea of what postpunk was about--angular, stark, punk-funk, angsty--but there was a whole other side to the music that was ethereal, dreamy-drifty, and gorgeously textured, and “Seen and Not Seen” is an exquisite example. I wanted to get the track for the Rip It Up compilation, which is coming out this spring and showcases the atmospheric, blissy-eerie side of postpunk, but we couldn’t get the rights.

4/ Scritti Politti, “PAs” (from 4 A Sides EP, 1979)

There was just something really mysterious and intriguing about Scritti Politti. Somehow I’d got wind of the idea of them as this fabulously uncompromising outfit skulking in the margins of the UK postpunk scene and operating at some outer limit of politics-in-pop. I guess that was their reputation, their image, their glamour in a way, and it made them both attractive and vaguely intimidating, like a challenge that you ought to put yourself through. And then when I actually heard Scritti for the first time--it would have been “Bibbly-O-Tek,” also from 4 A Sides, on John Peel’s radio show--I was struck both by how unusual it was (the fractured song-structures, the odd chord-changes) but also how instantly beguiling the song was (the sweetness of Green’s voice, the sheer melodic beauty--which came, I realized many years later, from his childhood love of the Beatles). There was a loveliness that I completely had not expected. And when I got 4 A Sides, and the two other early EPs, I gradually became convinced Green was a pop genius. All this was well before he’d made his big turnabout and decided to go “pop” with “The ‘Sweetest Girl’”. I was such a fan that I nearly wrote him a letter telling him that he should just forget all the Scritti ideology about avoiding musical conventions and just go for it, that pop stardom was his destiny. It was “PAs,” this fantastic funk groove with a gorgeously insinuating and serpentile melody, that really sold me on this idea. This would have been the summer of 1980, when Green actually was holed up in a Welsh cottage ruminating over his musical future. But as much as it was great when he did go pop, first with the lover’s rock reggae of “Sweetest Girl” and then with the electrofunk hits like “Wood Beez,” “Absolute” and “Perfect Way”, part of me wishes he stuck with his original band and just kept on making things like “PAs” for ever.

5/ Tenor Saw, “Ring the Alarm”, 1985

I wanted to include something to register the extent to which postpunk depended for its very being on the amazing black music of the late Seventies and early Eighties--funk and disco, reggae and electro. This tune is from just outside the period Rip It Up covers, but, well, I’ve been listening to it a lot this week, and it seems as good an emblem as any for the massive effect Jamaican music had on UK postpunk. I played it yesterday and had one of those moments. It’s a midtempo skank, sweetly sung, but it hit me with the impact of The Stooges; the tension in the rhythm suddenly had this quality of tectonic violence. The line in this song that always slays me, makes my head spin, is “sweet reggae music ‘pon the attack”. If you think about what the song is actually about, it’s grim--the market struggle of sound system against sound system (“ring the alarm, another sound is dying”). It’s pitiless, Hobbesian, and yet there is such exultation in the song, same as in “War in A Babylon” by Max Romeo, another tune I’ve been playing recently.

6/ La Dusseldorf, “Dusseldorf” (La Dusseldorf, 1976)

Not strictly postpunk; indeed this album--the brainchild of Klaus Dinger of Neu!-- was recorded in 1975, making it pre-punk. But I’m including it A/ because I’ve been listening to it incessantly, and B/ David Bowie cited this album, along with Neu 75, as a huge influence on Low, which in turn was a massive LP for the postpunk bands. La Dusseldorf could therefore be seen as the Source in terms of the Neu Europa vibe that swept through so much postpunk, from Simple Minds’ Empires and Dance to The Associates (“White Car in Germany,” etc). There’s this clear-headed atmosphere of nobility and splendor to “Dusseldorf”, panoramic vistas reeling by as you head at speed into a world that’s cleansed and newborn. You get a tiny foretaste too of the glisten and uplift of early U2 and Echo & The Bunnymen, the postpunk breed of bands I call “glory boys” in Rip It Up. In Neu!, Dinger was one of the great rock drummers, he invented the motorik beat, this amazing combination of caveman primitivism and ever-shifting subtlety, a white version of Amiri Baraka’s “changing same.” One of the cool things about La Dusseldorf is that, in what seems like an act of supreme perversity, Dinger handed over the drum kit to his brother Thomas, who then proved to be just as good as Klaus. The latter, meanwhile, took up guitar and almost out-dazzled Neu! guitarist Michael Rother. I think he was trying to prove a point, that he was the real mastermind in Neu! Lyrically, “Dusseldorf” is wonderfully inane, just a chant of the city’s name, a one-word anthem of civic patriotism; sonically it’s 13 minutes of rolling motorik majesty, something I could happily listen to for fives times that length.