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The NOTWIST: 
NME 10/03/98

Ooompah! The futuristic sound of German music is ringing out across the beer garden. Ooompah! Ooompah! Markus and Michael Acher bend double across their instruments, faces contorted in the pursuit of excellence. Ooompah! Ooompah! The bridegroom blushingly kisses his bride as The Notwist help distribute vast foaming steins of lager to...

Eh?

Oh, sorry. You join us at work with The Notwist, where the brothers Acher lay down their respective guitar and bass, pick up instead the rather more traditional drums and trumpet and go and play Dixieland jazz with their father. Weddings. Parties. Quite literally anything. By night, The Notwist attempt to extend the parameters of rock'n'roll. By day, they play jazz while cousins vomit.

"It's very popular in Barvaria," explains Markus. "It's mainly for the money. I'm playing Dixie tomorrow and I'm playing Dixie on Saturday."

He continues, ruefully.

"Sometimes we make more money with Dixie than with The Notwist."

It hardly seems fair. Formed 11 fears ago in the image of American post-hardcore groups, but with an agenda to aspire to the melodiousness of The Lemonheads and Dinosaur Jr, The Notwist (completed at this stage by drummer Mecki Messerschmid) devised their nonsensical name to send up the seriousness of a local band contest which they entered with some rubbish recordings that they'd done. They didn't win.

Two years later they submitted their first album, and did. Over their four album career they have steadily moved away from hardcore, detoured into metal and then come out the other side, first with last years excellent 12 album and now with their new one, Shrink, out on Stereolab's Duphonioc label. Their line-up now completed by sample bloke Martin Gretschmann, the Notwist make a clean angular noise with bits of saxophone on it, where once they just made a clean and angular noise. Just one of the brace of excellent new German bands making a response to the possibilities of ambience, techno and even jazz opened up by the likes of Stereolab and Tortoise. The Notwist neither meander nor noodle, more kind of surge with tune.

"It's like our version of our record collection," chuckles Markus. "So it's more international than exclusively German. At The time when we did 12, there was no real German tradition of music unless the person was so old that they could get something out of the Krautrock stuff.

"It's very boring where we live," Markus continues, dissing his Weilheim home, "so there are many bands here, and many of the bands that were when we started were very influential."

Involved in other projects (Markus an his brother are in The Tied & Tickled Trio, who released a record between 12 and Shrink), the thing The Notwist strive for is something totally their own. Could be any style of music. Any kind of thing. "We're just looking to see what could fit into The Notwist," says Markus.

Maybe a beer garden. Perhaps a bridal party. Viva Dixie!


John Robinson