Superb 1996 album by the German legends of industrial, which takes many of the sounds from the band's past, but deploys them in pursuit of a far more melodic end product. I'm sure there are many Neubauten fans who only prefer the noisy early stuff - I just prefer the later more melodic sound with a broader sound palette.
The first two tracks are a concise summation of their sound in 1996 - the frenetic opener 'Was Ist Ist', with thrashing metallic guitars and Blixa Bargeld's strident vocals, is followed by the lush string-led 'Stella Maris', where Blixa sings a gentle two part harmony with actress Meret Becker.
Throughout the album, the songwriting is excellent, the tunes are great, and there is a palpable sense of the band being absolute masters of their sound. The percussion is superb, as always, as is the use of non-music sounds, such as a pencil writing on paper. There are some propulsive grooves, too, that hark back to their motorik musical ancestors - on 'Installation no1', and most notably the 11 minute epic that is 'NNNAAAMMM' - which is chanted both as spelt - suggesting a car passing on the motorway, as well as being the initials of 'New no new age advanced ambient motor music machine': also chanted throughout. The rhythm of this track is helped along with some kind of chugging machinery to great effect. The title track is probably my favourite: a blend of distorted vocals, industrial percussion, and dramatic, ominous strings.
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