After the phantasmagorical Giant Normal Dwarf, where they'd gleefully splattered the canvas with every color in the rainbow, the Nits opted for an altogether more restrained palette for this follow-up. The result was one of the most satisfying albums of their career -- one, moreover, that sounds like no other in the rock canon. On paper, the idea of foregrounding the piano to the exclusion of virtually all other instruments might sound less than radical.
But if that leads you to expect something in a similar orbit to artists like Ben Folds or Bruce Hornsby, forget it. Rather, the name of Philip Glass might spring to mind more readily, especially during the exquisite opening track, "Cars and Cars," where Robert Jan Stips' piano arpeggio is doubled by Dieuwke Kleijn's cello.
Throughout the album, digital pianos are stacked and layered there are no guitars here : they chime, cascade, and swirl, providing both melody and rhythm to magical effect. Much is made on the sleeve of the presence on Ting of a set of stones, designed by Swiss sculptor Arthur Schneiter to function as both artwork and musical instrument -- "when you hit them with a mallet they say Ting. Yet you don't need to know any of this to be seduced by the haunting title track, or cheered by the McCartney-esque "Soap Bubble Box.
Ting marked the end of a five-year period during which it seemed the Nits' creativity knew no bounds. Though there would be no precipitous decline, they would never quite scale these heights again.
Les Nuits. You won't find many more minimalist titles than those listed on the sleeve of the Nits' mini-album, Hat. Lyrics are similarly minimalist and often take the form of fragments of recollected dreams and memories in which everyday scenes and objects trigger feelings of loss and melancholy. It's perhaps surprising, then, that for such an austerely conceived project, the Nits again came up with some of their most enduring work.
Opener "The Train," whose rolling rhythm matches that of its subject matter, boasts a breezy, instantly memorable melody framed by Robert Jan Stips' exultant piccolo-synth and, at one point, samples of wheels on tracks and screeching brakes.
Hat's other undoubted masterpiece is "The Bauhaus Chair," a poignant melody, beautifully sung by Henk Hofstede though his inability to master the English "th" sound is particularly intrusive here and rounded off by a richly resonant organ passage that evokes Procol Harum in their pomp. Elsewhere, "The Dream" has a vibrant South American feel that recalls "Nescio," while "The House" is an altogether bleaker affair, with its measured, incantatory refrain of "Time slipping away.
Songs apart, what is most striking about Hat, however, is Stips' keyboard playing. In just two years he had gone from the often grotesque and alienating synth effects that blighted much of Henk to the lushly organic settings contained here. Rob Kloet had also by now arrived at a distinctively understated and highly musical technique that saw him tailor his percussion parts to the precise requirements of each individual song, rather than reaching for a ready-made beat like most rock drummers.
Giant Normal Dwarf. On first acquaintance, this beautifully packaged album might suggest that lyricist Henk Hofstede had taken an LSD-inspired trip back to the world of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and "Glass Onion": the opening track alone manages to rhyme "telephone lake" with "periscope snake.
That said, there's nothing childish about the music on this album, which is one of the most consistently satisfying of the band's career. Though occasionally the whimsy might get a little cloying for some tastes, there's no denying the sheer beauty of a song like "The Night Owl" -- which sounds like a lost Moody Blues classic -- and the delightful strangeness of the closing songs, "House of the Sleeping Beauties" and "The Infinite Shoeblack.
Check out the entry of a full choir singing "Little red roses fall" in the midst of "Radio Shoes," for instance. If that doesn't bring a smile to your face, check for a pulse.
Special mention should go to the keyboard work of Robert Jan Stips, who created a multicolored world of sound that perfectly complements Hofstede's flights of fancy, without ever fetching up in synthesizer hell. Though it remains a favorite among fans of the band, Giant Normal Dwarf nevertheless failed to match the commercial success of In the Dutch Mountains. Adieu, Sweet Bahnhof. Three tracks into Adieu, Sweet Bahnhof and it's starting to sound as though the headway made by the Nits on the previous year's Omsk and Kilo was all for naught.
Then, frustratingly, comes a triple whammy of three of their most memorable songs. Legend has it that Stars on 45 producer Jaap Eggermont pushed the band into adopting a more commercial approach on Adieu, Sweet Bahnhof, although he is only credited as engineer.
Yet that at least would explain the blitzkrieg of brittle pop pastiche that opens the album and the solid gold nuggets you have to rummage around for. The bandmembers were never happy with the recording, however, and reworked the song in a spellbinding new arrangement with the Amsterdam Saxophone Quartet for the live album Urk.
In fact, reservations about the production extend to much of the album, which sounds muddy, drowned in reverb, and heavy on the analog synths. No amount of technical shortcomings could sabotage the title track, though.
It's a delightfully wistful Parisian waltz with a refrain that still gets audiences joining in over 20 years later. Hofstede's "The Tender Trap" is the album's last classic, a widescreen vignette of romance gone wrong with a stately brass arrangement and an overarching melody.
Stips' masterful keyboard work is missing, and the songs suffer from the lack of his brilliant aural arrangements. Hofstede and Kloet certainly make the best of what they've got, and the album is certainly not a disappointment -- at first. Using keyboards, percussion, samples, and plenty of vocal overdubs, the Nits create a musical world that is uniquely their own. Robinson" i.
If the album had only ten tracks, then it would be advisable for you to grab this right away. Unfortunately, there are three more songs tracks that are disposable at best. Certainly not the band's best album, but even a mediocre Nits album beats almost anything else, hands down.
Doing The Dishes. For Nits fans, the Dutch band has continued to remain relevant, unique and utterly original. For casual music fans not familiar with their history, their 30 year career could be a little frustrating.
Advanced Search. Release Date March 25, Track Listing. Because We Can. I'm with You. What About Now. Pictures of You. That's What the Water Made Me. What's Left of Me. Army of One. Thick as Thieves. Beautiful World. Room at the End of the World. So he just recorded them live in this club called the King King. You can hear the whole atmosphere of the club. As for the band, Lester Butler was just one of the greatest ever harmonica players.
He sings into a bullet mic while playing. In fact the whole band were amazing players. Cardinal was the perfect partnership of the supreme song writing of Australian Richard Davies and the lush voice and arrangements of Californian Eric Matthews.
Together they were untouchable — Davies had the most instinctive song writing skills and killer melodies since David Bowie, and Matthews had a truly unique soulful voice and the arranging skills of Burt Bacharach. When I put it on, it was like being totally woken up, because it hits you like the fucking Beastie Boys or something. It really takes your head off! The Pretty Things were really out there. They were pushing it just as hard as The Beatles but in a different direction.
They recorded it at Abbey Road. The whole album is consistently brilliant. An arsenal of post-MDMA, post-post-punk, anti-love songs. It launched a thousand stage invasions across East Lancashire and North Lincolnshire; each song is like a Bukowski short story, upended and restaged in Grimsby, set to the sound of a dodgy amp and out tune Squire Telecaster.
The die hard few who decided they were not content with the rubbish took these songs to their hearts. We went to the same High School. He was a really fucked-up kid.
This was in the late Seventies. I was at school in Toronto when the LA punk thing happened. It sounded too much like English punk. The album began as a concept which became progressively more difficult to achieve. They wanted it to be an actual radio station, one far left of the dial, and you could just tune into it and they would constantly be creating new music.
Whenever you would tune it would either be them having a conversation, or jamming, or writing a song, and it would only happen at night. The idea was of tuning into a spiritual frequency. They made this hip-hop record, which was smart, political, funny and nasty. As a songwriter, my earliest inspiration came from hip-hop. And the fact that it was from the west coast. Chick Corea was an early supporter of Scientology. They kickstarted a lot of that French dance movement.
This album came out in and it never succeeded as it should have. It just seems to be quite psychologically powerful. At one of them, they handed out a mix, and the first track on that was LFO.
From that I wanted to investigate more. This is the first techno album that I bought, and can still listen to as an album, rather than just enjoying one or two songs off it. The Dancing Did were a short-lived four-piece from Evesham, Worcestershire, who spanned post-punk, punk, goth, psychobilly and folk-rock in the freakiest, most flawless way.
For all the melodrama and vast range of influences, they never sound like anything but classic English eccentrics. But at the same time, they have really amazing pop songs.
I really got into Eater cos they had Dee Generate Strummer on guitar who was about 14, and I was pretty young at the time so I thought that was pretty cool they thought the Pistols were too old.
Did this record shock me? I had spiky hair, then I went skin for a while, then I went kinda Nick Cave. Sweeping through its many voices, sounds, moods, landscapes it is as much a lost experience as a lost album. John Cale is most famous for The Velvet Underground. He is less famous for almost everything else: for being Welsh, his classical music sophistication, and his prolific thirty-plus album solo and producing career. This album was such an incredibly exciting record for a year-old.
It was fraught, angry, strange and threatening. One of the strangest memories I have is that with it being vinyl you were supposed to play it at 45rpm. But because it was an album, I played it at 33rpm. So for the first few months I was playing it at the wrong speed. It sounded like some bizarre death metal record. The singer, Michael Ryan, had bee-stung lips and a perfect fringe — there was something going on there.
This album, its ambition, drew me and Nicky and Ritchey and Sean in. It was on the brink of collapse all the time, but they managed to harness it in the music.
So when I read that Jeffrey Lee Pierce was doing a solo album and that it was a bit of a production number, I was intrigued. And then I listened, and I just thought it was one of the most perfect meldings of pop sensibility and rock, which is the hardest thing to do.
I just want to do this once in my life. But this album is utterly embroiled in Neu! They never, ever get the credit for being one of the most inventive British bands ever.
And the way that so many bands can splinter into each other — from Neu!
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