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Close To The Glass by The Notwist
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9/10 Brian 21 February 2014

The Notwist's 'Close To The Glass' is another nice surprise this week, the seventh from this progressive and hugely admired German experimental outfit. Their post-millennial breakthrough 'Neon Golden' was a populist benchmark for them, a slick and moving collection that still sounds great today.

This first album in six years is quite a schizoid beast as it initially appears to be a very electronic-orientated record. Apparently Martin Gretchmann, their head boffin, heavily manipulated the bands grooves through banks of modular synths to create something quite startling and alien sounding. The first couple of tracks are heavily laden with ponderous bloops, elasticated rhythms and stunning effects quietly recalling the more out-there solo material from Hood's Chris Adams Bracken alias or the dislocated electronica of Mouse on Mars.

By the time we reach number three, a melodic beauty called 'Kong' we're plunged head-first into a galloping, lightweight and hugely catchy indie pop tune that sounds almost Scandinavian in its heartfelt euphoria. Some place between The Postal Service, Stereolab, Granddaddy, later period Cure and The Radio Dept. It's a cracking joyous motorik hit-in-waiting that gets more demented as it races towards its conclusion. I totally love it!

This is often a big-hearted and accessible album but also one of a subtly experimental, ambitious and brave nature, a diverse baby that mischievously straddles the wide gaps between tender downbeat acoustic-laced pop such as 'Casino', the shambling lo-fi shoegaze of '7 Hour Drive' and all the exhilarating random electronic wilderness between.

Often tender and reflective, consistently engaging, there is nothing predictable about 'CTTG' - every song has a unique and interesting personality and given the eclectic nature of the treats on offer here, it's a surprisingly coherent listen hinging on great melodies and that lovely dreamy voice that always lends The Notwist a real air of tender romance and real class. The most diverse and interesting set I've encountered from this long-running cult band. You can really feel their influence on much of our Western experimental pop and on the fourth hearing I can confidently state this is one of their finest outings to date!


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