Michael Rother in the
process of transferring tapes, combing through unreleased material, even
mulling over making the back catalog available for download.
By Fred Mills
Word arrives today that a box set of Krautrock pioneers NEU!
is being prepped for release by guitarist Michael Rother. Rother of course
co-founded the band in 1971 with drummer Klaus Dinger following the pair’s
departure from an early incarnation of Kraftwerk; with producer Conny Plank
overseeing the recordings. NEU! issued a trio of albums (plus several posthumous releases) now considered seminal
artifacts of the ‘70s German rock scene, subsequently influencing several
generations’ worth of fans, among them David Bowie, Johnny Rotten, Stereolab
and Radiohead. (Wikipedia page on the band is here.)
The NEU! tale is a long and tangled one, of course, and with
Dinger’s passing in March of 2008 that tale effectively came to a close.
However, in a recent interview with BLURT’s Wilson Neate, Rother disclosed the
news about the forthcoming box set.
“I’m working on a NEU! vinyl box set, which will include an
LP-sized booklet with text about NEU! and some as-yet unpublished photos,”
explains Rother. “I’m still in the middle of the project. So far, the idea is
to release NEU!, NEU! 2, NEU! ’75 and a
re-worked version of NEU! 4 (which I
think will be called NEU! ’86 like
we’d originally intended) including some material from 1985-86 that is as-yet
unknown to the public. Plus — possibly — excerpts of Live ’72 (the recording of a rehearsal).
“When I’ve finished editing NEU! ’86, I’ll check those live recordings and edit the highlights.
I’m in the process of reliving that project with Klaus. When we separated, we
weren’t finished with the project and Klaus decided to do that behind my back
because I think he was just paranoid and needed the money, etc. — well, he’ll
explain later when we meet again. But now I’m reliving that project and I will
do my best also to present what we did in the ’80s in what I think now is the
Rother adds that the box is slated for the Grönland label (which is also reissuing the Harmonia-Brian Eno collaboration Tracks & Traces next month; Harmonia
was a team-up between Rother and the members of Cluster), and that they “hope
to release it later this year, but it could well end up being next year. It
would be best to have the box set ready before Christmas for all the fans.
We’ll see. It depends on how quickly I can find my way around the material.”
Among other NEU!-related tidbits Rother outlined:
* “Sometime after the vinyl box set, if everything goes OK,
we also plan to release a new CD version of NEU!
4/NEU! ’86 and to make available
all of NEU!’s recordings for download.”
* “I was in the studio today editing one track and I’ve been
transferring music from all the analog tapes to the computer. I also stumbled
across some old NEU! music that I’d forgotten because Klaus and I split the
tapes and he didn’t have all the material in Düsseldorf when he released that
version of NEU! 4. This is all quite
interesting and another piece of work for the archivist.”
We’ll be posting the entire, massive (nearly 10,000 words) Neate-Rother
interview at BLURT very soon, so keep your eyes peeled. (For more
Rother-related news, go to his official site.)