Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 12:00 AM
The Notwist’s Close to the Glass, is yet another courageous leap into the sky of songs. It is a catchy and unpredictable marriage of playing your heart out on an instrument and the magnetic pulse of precise programming. While the band always creates music ripe with authenticity and mood, we find them now defining their edges with no shortage of bravery or beat. As romantic as it is robotic, Close to the Glass is a bottomless collage: part pop song, part science, part band, part storytelling and all Notwist. The sturdy glue between the layers of Close to the Glass is their newfound synergy as a band, no longer co-writing parts, brothers Markus and Micha Archer alongside Martin Gretchmann have finally found their human form and in some ways, at last, have ‘become’ The Notwist. With support from Max Punktezahl and Andi Haberl, they write, re-write, and record songs as one, tapping into the energy they possess on stage, and naturally arriving at the band all their exploratory recorded music had cut out for them.
When The Notwist began in 1989, it was something entirely different. But the core of the band has always been boys from Weilheim, a small slice of German countryside, that somehow created the perfect air of inspiration and deprivation, allowing a band like this to begin itself. Markus and Micha, the founders of the band, grew up collecting records and playing jazz with their father, so naturally, the first music they would make as The Notwist was hardcore (borderline metal) with a vocal twist! Always singing in English and always experimenting, the two brothers created The Notwist, Nook & 12, three dense and progressively catchier records before finding Gretchmann (aka Console) in 1997, a daring electronic musician from the same small town, and their third half. When they melded with Martin they recorded Shrink and successfully set off on their inspiring path of playing many and any music forms at once. Then in 2001, they made Neon Golden which saw the three friends blend electronics and all forms of instrumentation for the first time, allowing their love of folk, classical, grunge, rap, rock, and electronic music to freely influence their compositions. Six years later they created The Devil, You + Me, yet another progression in their full-length efforts, but most importantly it was in the recording of and touring for this album that they became the band that would eventually record Close to the Glass.
For the core members of The Notwist, collaboration is key. Markus, Micha and Martin have founded many a band to play many a color of music; LALI PUNA, CONSOLE, Ms. JOHN SODA, 13&god, TIED & TICKLED TRIO, and VILLAGE OF SAVOONGA, to name a few. And with every record Markus, Micha and Martin grow, as does the pool of influence and talent they draw on to form Notwist material. Despite all these rewarding experiences, all is not roses and gold for The Notwist when recording a new album. Since all the members of The Notwist are perfectionists, it’s understandable that nothing about this album was perfect at first. The songs on Close to the Glass were recorded, remixed, thrown away, resurrected, and then refined. When trying to capture something completely, things must go all sorts of wrong before they can be gotten any sort of right. This record reflects and reveals this truth about The Notwist more than ever, in its collage nature, pop-music moments and unpredictable structures.
During the recording of Close to the Glass, Martin was more the mad-scientist than ever, behind a small mountain of analog modular synths, not only playing but also manipulating the performance of his bandmates as they played. The strong connection and creative trust between band members allowed for the traditional lines between roles to blur more than ever before. With everyone playing anything, the band felt they could take their music anywhere, from sheer noise to kraut-rock beat pocket to arena rock ride out. Close to the Glass is also full of vocal leaps for Markus Acher, experimenting not only with effects but also with his range, leaving the comforts of his signature style to take this album somewhere new.
“Run Run Run” is an electronic renovation of a simple blues song, every member of the band manipulating each other’s performance. This was the first song created for the album with its blend of classic approach and cutting edge execution, and it would set the tone for the rest of the recording process.
“Casino” is a perfect display of the self-sampling freedom that went into the recording of Close to the Glass. What began as an instrumental by Andi, was resampled by Martin, then sung on by Markus and played live on tour. But when they went to record it for the album, it felt off until they played it as a band in the more spare final form it has today.
“Kong,” driven by its beat and anthemic guitar chords is The Notwist’s homage to ’90s indie-pop. The lyrics are a true story about a young Markus and his family trapped in their home by a flood, dreaming as hard as he could about being saved by superheroes as the water rose around them.
Now in 2014, we find The Notwist releasing their most adventurous record yet, in the most exciting version of this band they have ever been. Proud as always to be on their long-time European label CITY SLANG, they are now over the moon to be on SUB POP in the Americas, a label that is home to dozens of their favorite bands and LPs. Here’s to one and all enjoying Close to the Glass, a record that feels as good in expensive headphones as it does in the trunk, a seamless soundtrack for that movie always going on inside you.
Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 12:00 PM
Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 5:14 AM