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Neulander - Sex, God & Money

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Artist: Neulander

Album: Sex, God & Money

Label: Ochre

Review date: Sep. 9, 2003

Hurried Slabs of Motorik Pop

Comprised of a duo of European expatriates, Adam Peters and Korinna Knoll, Neulander have arrived to bring the sleek sound of Euro sheen to the gritty streets of New York City. Their debut release on the fine UK label, Ochre Records, provides a taste of their particular variety of sweets: a dash of psych, sprinkle of Kraut, a pinch of electro, all wrapped in a retro-fried crust.

Formerly the leader of psychedelic lounge-rockers, Family Of God, Brit Adam Peters also has spent time as a member of Echo & The Bunnymen (playing keyboards on their 1997 Evergreen comeback album). Peters’ chosen moniker of Neulander suggests that he shares fellow Bunnyman Will Sergeant’s taste for Krautrock (check Will’s solo album, La Via Luonge, also on Ochre Records, for further proof). All four tracks on Sex, God & Money are swamped in various Kraut influences, but before making the assumption that female vox + kraut-inspired indie rock = ten years too late for the Too Pure train, think of Conny Plank’s production on early Eurythmics and DAF tracks rather than Neu! or Can.

The title track wraps Knoll’s heavily accented vocals in a stark electro bop that takes on warm synth lines for comfort. Before boredom creeps up, random noise patterns break into the track midway through and wrap up with the help of a splendidly haunting theremin jam. The peculiar spattering rhythm that envelops the playful vocals of “If You Could” yields to a monster motorik beat, as feedback and lofty tones clash to increase the intensity of the track tenfold. Knoll’s vocals soon swarm with emotion, her “yeah yeah’s” etc., bringing visions of abstract surf harmonies to the fore. When the slow DAF-derived electro beat sets up “Just There”, the simple melancholy synth pattern and somber vox seem naked in comparison to the sonic density of their previous tracks. Teutonic influence rears its head once again for “Schauspieler”, as the combination of industrial backbeats, spooky electronics and spoken/sung German vox appear transplanted from an Ata Tak or Zick Zack platter circa 1981. This unusual vision quickly blurs as Neulander flex their motorik chops midsong with a bit of Kraftwerkian noodling to set in motion the final drum machine blowout finale and fadeout.

Neulander barely succeed in taking Kraut-inspired electronics to unfamiliar grounds. By sticking with a strict pop song formula (all tracks are 3-4 minutes a piece), they fail to stretch the tracks out, and as a result each song feels hurried and abrupt. All four tracks would have benefited immensely from longer and more thought-out instrumental work. Peters and Knoll do work well together and have marked potential, they need only slow down a bit and soak in the landscape.

By Everett Jang Perdue

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