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november, 26th
 
 
The NOTWIST: 12
Alivewired

Perhaps the most interesting development in rock music over the last several years has been the increasing emphasis on a collage aesthetic. This ostensibly postmodern approach to music making is the logical answer to the question "what do you do when all of the new ideas have been used up?" When posed with such a query, folkster Beck answered with a funkified, sample heavy booty call. Ani Difranco, ill-content straddling indie, "women's music," and punk fences, used elements of all of those camps to frame a fortified, three-way bastard child of said genres. Call it a sign of the times, but artists are best making sense of postmodern living by producing material that is borrowed, bought, anachronistic and gleefully rife with often bizarre juxtapositions. Germany's The Notwist, then, are just the latest contenders in the race for rock impurity. Comprised of Markus Acher on vocals and guitar, brother Micha on bass and Martin Messerschmidt on drums, the core of The Notwist is augmented by a number of other instruments and guest players including banjos, tape loops, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Smog's Cynthia Dall.

So, at a time when American and British music is finally displaying tangible signs of Krautrock's influence, what makes The Notwist, a German band with heavy U.S. and British influences so interesting? Maybe it's just that this German combo seems to have conjured something much greater than the sum of its parts - Gestalt rock?

On its oddly configured (one nine song "album" CD and one remix and rarities CD) American debut, The Notwist uses mid-period Sonic Youth as a sort of home base from which industrial, indie pop and metal trajectories shoot forth. This is no grab bag, however, as many of these approaches are incorporated into each song on these two CDs.

Though 12 has some truly exhilarating and challenging moments, its unevenness keeps it from being "great." Considering The Notwist's musical philosophy, however, technical perfection is probably far from what the band intends. The Notwist appears this Wednesday the 19th at Bernie's.


by Kevin Wolfe